Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet
by Dan Vogel
Samuel and Nephi, Heralds of Christ’s Coming
About 6 B.C., Samuel, a righteous Lamanite, arrives in the land of Zarahemla and preaches repentance to the Nephites in light of the impending destruction he has foreseen. The relationship between the Nephite and Lamanite nations has become reversed, the Lamanites now being more righteous than the Nephites. The irony of this serves to highlight Smith’s intention: through the Book of Mormon, Indians will call Jacksonian America to repentance. One thinks of Tecumseh’s brother, Tenskwatawa, also known as “the prophet,” who following an 1805 vision reformed himself and called his people to reject the white man’s culture as sinful. Meanwhile, Tecumseh tried to unite Indian forces to resist American expansion.
Rejected by the Nephites, Samuel returns home only to receive a revelation instructing him to go back to the city of Zarahemla. This time, we are told, the prophet stands high atop the city’s walls to deliver his message beyond the reach of rocks and arrows. How Samuel is heard at such a distance is not explained, but he begins by reiterating Alma’s prediction concerning the Nephites’ destruction: “Four hundred years pass not away save the sword of justice falleth upon this people” (Hel. 13:5; cf. Alma 45:10-11). He reveals the manner in which the Nephites will be destroyed: “Thus saith the Lord: Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent … I will withdraw my spirit from them, and … I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them. … Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction” (vv. 8, 10).
Some of the phrases in this message appeared previously in a revelation that Joseph Smith dictated in March 1829. After declaring that Jacksonian America was “not far from the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrah,” God similarly warned that “the sword of justice hangeth over their heads, and if they persist in the hardness of their hearts, the time cometh that it must fall upon them” (Book of Commandments 4:6; hereafter BofC). The revelation’s mention of Sodom and Gomorrah reflects Samuel’s warning: “Wo unto this great city of Zarahemla; for behold, it is because of those who are righteous that it is saved; … if it were not for the righteous who are in this great city, behold, I would cause that fire should come down out of heaven and destroy it” (13:12, 13). Samuel alludes to Sodom’s destruction by a heavenly fire and Abraham’s attempt to save the city on the condition that he find one righteous man within it (Gen. 18:23-33).
Samuel continues with the theme, recently alluded to by Mormon, of lost treasure: “And behold, a curse shall come upon the land, saith the Lord of Hosts, … that whoso shall hide up treasures in the earth shall find them again no more, because of the great curse of the land, save he be a righteous man and shall hide it up unto the Lord” (13:17, 18). Considering the treasure-seeking context of Smith’s 1826 encounter with the law, it can be no accident that Nephi also confronts corrupt judges (Hel. 8-9),1 followed immediately by an account of Samuel’s prophecy regarding cursed, slippery treasures. Through Samuel, Smith revisits his failure as a treasure seeker and his success at getting the gold plates. As far as Smith is concerned, he had been the victim of a gross injustice: his stone worked, but the treasures had been unobtainable because of God’s curse on them; the gold plates, on the other hand, had been hidden up “unto the Lord.” Thus, Smith would not renounce his treasure-seeing activities as fraudulent or delusional, only as futile.
In naming Samuel the Lamanite, Smith may have been thinking of fellow treasure seer Samuel Lawrence.2 Through Samuel the Lamanite, Smith attacks those who honor the ancient prophets while rejecting the living ones and who feel themselves safe from God’s punishment (13:24-28). Among Smith’s former treasure-seeking associates, Martin Harris, Joseph Smith Sr., and Joseph Knight Sr. were Universalists. The idiosyncratic coincidences that converge within this narrative indicate that it is being constructed, either consciously or unconsciously, from Smith’s own life experiences.
The existence of “slippery treasures,” according to Samuel, means that the end is near: “And behold, the time cometh that [God] curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them. And in the days of your poverty ye shall cry unto the Lord; and in vain shall ye cry, for your desolation is already come upon you, and your destruction is made sure; and then shall ye weep and howl in that day saith the Lord of Hosts” (13:31-32). Nearly 400 years later, Mormon records the fulfillment of Samuel’s prediction regarding cursed, slippery treasure as a prelude to Nephite destruction (Morm. 1:18). That the treasure seekers had confronted cursed, slippery treasures, and that Smith was experiencing difficulty in protecting the gold plates from his former treasure-seeking colleagues, all became generalized as a sign of the end of time.
Samuel mocks his audience, saying that when they have been destroyed, they will cry out: “O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. … O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them. … Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone. … Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land. … Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls” (13:31-35, 37). If this lamentation is intended to be directed toward Smith’s former treasure-seeking friends in Palmyra, Manchester, South Bainbridge, and Colesville, he draws a comparison between himself as a true seer who successfully obtained the gold plates and their continued frustration because of enchanted treasures; and this because Smith’s rivals placed the pursuit of money above the sanctity of the endeavor. Smith is the true prophet and they are false prophets.
Samuel switches to more immediate prophecy. Declaring that Jesus will be born in five years, he predicts that “there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day” (14:3). Here Smith sidesteps the issue of altering the movement of either the sun or the earth: “For ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; … nevertheless the night shall not be darkened” (v. 4). He may have had in mind something like the northern lights—familiar to him—but on a grander scale.
Samuel predicts the appearance of “a new star” (14:5). Smith evidently accepted the traditional account of this. However, the star is mentioned only in Matthew where the Magi see the star in the east, which disappears, then reappears and hovers above the home of Jesus’ parents (Matt. 2:2, 7, 9, 10). The star was therefore a literary device that signified the importance of Jesus’ birth and drew both on Jewish tradition about the births of Abraham, Isaac, and Moses and on pagan traditions about the births of Adonis, Aion, Antiochus, Asclepius, Attis, Bacchus, Dionysus, Osiris, and Mithras, all of whom were the offspring of a god through a human virgin.
Smith also draws on Matthew in describing other signs accompanying Jesus’ death. In common with Mark and Luke, Matthew claimed that for three hours prior to Jesus’ death on the cross, a darkness came “over all the land” (Matt. 27:45; cf. Mark 15:33, 38; Luke 23:44, 45), but it is Matthew who mentions that the earth quaked and the graves of the saints opened (Matt. 27:51-53). Smith expands these three hours of darkness to three days, and follows Matthew’s lead in having Samuel predict that the earthquake will be followed by mass resurrections (Hel. 14:20-27). Using similar language as Matthew (cf. Matt. 27:51-53), Samuel declares: “And many graves shall be opened, and shall yield up many of their dead; and many saints shall appear unto many” (Hel. 14:25).
Samuel borrows Matthew’s phrase “rent in twain” and applies it to rocks rather than to the veil of the temple (Matt. 27:51). He also amplifies the effects of the earthquake beyond Matthew’s description: “There shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Hel. 14:22, 23). Smith alludes here to Isaiah 40:4, which usually accompanies predictions of Jesus’ second advent (see Doctrine and Covenants 49:23; 109:74; 133:19-25; hereafter D&C). However, consistent with Matthew’s apocalyptism, Smith is able to bring the narrative closer to latter-day readers. As with the new star, he assumed that a literary device was actual history. As early as the eighteenth century, historian Edward Gibbon noted the lack of historical support for the phenomena described by Matthew.3 Luke specifically said the darkness was caused by an eclipse, but an eclipse is “astronomically impossible during paschal full moon.”4
Samuel reiterates Abinadi’s teaching that Jesus is the “Father of heaven and earth” (14:12), that there is no salvation, either physical or spiritual, without him, and that those who fail to repent must be destroyed and suffer the “second death” (vv. 15-19). Despite Mormon’s statements about human depravity (12:4-8), Samuel declares that humankind is capable of choosing good over evil: “God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death” (14:30-31). In light of the mass destruction about to take place in his narrative, Smith’s adoption of Arminian free agency is less optimistic than what was espoused by many of his contemporaries. Rather than endowing humans with virtue, Smith is more concerned about releasing God from responsibility. Samuel declares: “If they are condemned they bring upon themselves their own condemnation” (v. 29).
Samuel draws on yet another passage in Matthew when he says: “Yea, except ye repent, your women shall have great cause to mourn in the day that they shall give suck” (15:2; cf. Matt. 24:19; see also Luke 23:29). Samuel explains the prophecy as follows: “And wo unto them which are with child, for they shall be heavy and cannot flee; therefore, they shall be trodden down and shall be left to perish” (v. 2). This draws from Jesus’ prediction about the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) to describe the coming destruction in America.
In closing, Samuel predicts that the despised Lamanites will receive God’s mercy while the Nephites, God’s “chosen people,” will be destroyed (15:3-17). The Lamanites sin because of the false traditions of their fathers, but the Nephites sin against the light. Therefore, “it shall be better for them than for you except ye repent” (v. 14). This derives from Jesus’ words about cities that remain unrepentant despite the miracles performed in them: “I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (Matt. 11:24). Continuing this theme, Samuel echos Jesus’ words:
Had the mighty works been shown unto [the Lamanites] which have been shown unto you, yea, unto them who have dwindled in unbelief because of the traditions of their fathers, ye can see of yourselves that they never would again have dwindled in unbelief. (Hel. 15:15; emphasis added)
And thou, Capernaum, which are exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (Matt. 11:23; emphasis added)
The application of a New Testament concept to the Nephites is questionable because, in the aftermath of Jesus’ visit to America, everyone—Nephite and Lamanite alike—will be equally subject to the terms of this oath. All will see the miracle of Jesus’ appearance. But the point of the narrative is to draw attention, not to the Nephites and Lamanites, but to the American Indian for whom it would be more tolerable at the time of judgement than it would be for Jacksonian America, the latter having sinned against the light. The modern Indian languishes in unbelief because of the false traditions of their fathers, according to the Book of Mormon. If Americans remain unrepentant, Native Americans will rise up and destroy them from the face of the earth, just as with the Lamanites and Nephites.
Despite the scattered condition of the Indian in the “latter times,” the Lord will deal with them mercifully (15:12). Smith evidently anticipated a mass conversion of Native Americans where Samuel refers to an ancient prophet he calls Zenos who predicts “the restoration of our brethren, the Lamanites, again to the knowledge of the truth” (v. 11). Paraphrasing Zenos, Samuel declares: “They shall be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, and be numbered among his sheep” (v. 13). Then the Lord states, apparently through a direct revelation to Samuel, that “if they will not repent, and observe to do my will, I will utterly destroy them” (v. 17).
Samuel’s preaching divides the city’s inhabitants, half being converted and seeking baptism from Nephi, half seeking Samuel’s life (16:1-2). When those in the crowd see that they cannot hit Samuel with their arrows or stones, they rush forward to take him. But he flees Zarahemla and escapes into Lamanite territory (vv. 6-8).
About 2 B.C., “great signs … and wonders” appear in fulfillment of prophecy (16:13). Also in this year, “angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy” (v. 14). This combines Luke’s account of the angel appearing to shepherds to declare “good tidings of great joy” on the night of Jesus’ birth and Matthew’s account of “wise men” coming from the east about two years after Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8-14; Matt. 2:1).
Despite the signs, unbelievers dismiss them as coincidence, saying that “some things they may have guessed right, among so many” (v. 16). This reflects the reasoning of skeptics who are unaffected by believers who point to earthquakes, wars, epidemics, famine, and any unusual event or catastrophe as a sign of Jesus’ impending return (cf. Matt. 24). The Book of Helaman ends on a disappointing note: “And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land” (v. 23). Smith lived at a time when rationalists, skeptics, deists, and some Unitarian-Universalists denied the existence of miracles. Also, many of the mainstream Protestants, including some Campbellites, believed that miracles had ended with the ancient apostles.
It was still early May when Smith concluded his dictation of the Book of Helaman and began the record of Nephi, later designated as “Third Nephi.” Its introductory passage reveals nothing of what its content will be, merely tracing Nephi’s lineage back to Lehi, who came out of Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, the king of Judah.
About 1 B.C.—“six hundred years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem” (3 Ne. 1:1)—Nephi II, son of Helaman, departs from the land and leaves his oldest son, Nephi III, in charge of the records (v. 2). Smith implies that the elder Nephi, like Alma, was translated into heaven, for the record states: “He departed out of the land, and whither he went, no man knoweth” (1:3; cf. 2:9).
The next year, five years having elapsed since Samuel the Lamanite uttered his prophecy, “greater signs” begin to appear, but not the new star nor the day without a night (1:4). Unbelievers begin to say: “Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain” (v. 6). This parallels the biblical prediction that scoffers in the last days will say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Pet. 3:3-4; see also Matt. 24:48).
In a dramatic showdown, unbelievers set a day on which believers will be executed if the signs fail to appear (1:9). Nephi prays on behalf of the believers and receives a revelation in which God declares, “On this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world” (v. 13). That the pre-mortal Jesus speaks with Nephi the day before his birth is remarkable. Perhaps Smith’s modalistic theology did not allow God to spend time in the womb. Consistent with modalism, Jesus tells Nephi that he is to come into the world “to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son—of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh” (v. 14). In other words, Jesus as a pre-mortal spirit is the Father but, through birth, becomes the Son.
As promised, when the sun sets, it does not become dark but remains “as though it was mid-day” (1:19). Unbelievers in the land north and the land south become so astonished that they fall to the earth as if dead (vv. 15-17). When the sun sets the following day as predicted, a new star appears (v. 21). Despite this dramatic fulfillment of prophecy, Satan succeeds in hardening the people’s hearts with unspecified lies and deceivings (v. 22). Nevertheless, Nephi manages to baptize many and there is “a great remission of sins” (v. 23).
About A.D. 4, “the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen” (2:1). Unbelievers are said to offer counter explanations: the signs were “wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people” (v. 2). In the age of reason, Smith was familiar with the explanations of skeptics who dismissed biblical miracles. It was the same unbelief that made his operations in Manchester, South Bainbridge, Colesville, and Harmony so difficult.
The narrative jumps ahead five years to the 100th year of the reign of the judges—609 years since Lehi left Jerusalem—at which time, Mormon informs readers, the Nephites have changed their method of reckoning time: “The Nephites began to reckon their time from this period when the sign was given, or from the coming of Christ; therefore, nine years had passed away” (2:8). Oddly, Mormon waits until nine years elapse in his narrative before he mentions the change in dating. There is nothing especially significant about A.D. 9 other than the fact that exactly 100 years have passed since the beginning of the reign of the judges.
About A.D. 13, responding to ten years of infiltration and terrorism, the Nephites and Lamanites unite against the Gadianton bands (2:11-12). Lamanites who join with the Nephites in this war have the “curse” lifted and “their skin became white like unto the Nephites” (vv. 14-15). Through Nephi, Smith offers this same promise to modern Indians, although this will happen gradually, perhaps through inter-racial marriage or some other naturalistic cause, rather than a miracle (2 Ne. 30:6). Meanwhile, the war against the robber bands becomes so fierce that the Nephites are threatened with “utter destruction” (v. 13). However, in the following year, the Nephites manage to drive the robbers back into their mountain retreats (v.17).
About A.D. 16, Chief Judge Lachoneus receives an epistle from Giddianhi, leader of the Gadianton band, threatening the Nephites’ extinction unless they yield up the government (3:1-10). At this time, the land northward is considered undesirable “because of the great curse” (v. 24), whatever that might be, so the Nephites make their stand against the rebels in the south. They do this by gathering to one place, presumably Zarahemla, and by building fortifications (vv. 11-15).
About A.D. 19, the Gadianton band comes against the Nephites (4:1-6). Mormon’s description of the robbers contains an interesting twist on Masonry’s identifying symbols. Mormon says that “they were girded about after the manner of robbers; and they had a lamb-skin about their loins, and they were dyed in blood” (v. 7). The wearing of a “lambskin or white apron” was an “emblem of innocence” in Masonic ceremonies—the very “badge of a Mason.”5 In giving the Gadianton warriors bloody lambskin aprons, Smith reverses the claim of innocence.
The battle produces the greatest slaughter ever among the Nephites (4:11). Nevertheless, they drive the robbers into the wilderness, while at the same time they kill the Gadianton leader, Giddianhi (vv. 12-15). More than a year later (A.D. 21), the robbers return with a new leader, Zemnarihah, and lay siege to the Nephites (vv. 16-17). Under the command of Gidgiddoni, the Nephites capture the robbers, execute their leader, and sentence the remaining unrepentant Gadiantons to death (vv. 18-33; 5:1-7). The robbers finally eliminated, the Nephites praise God for their deliverance, for “they knew it was because of their repentance and their humility that they had been delivered from an everlasting destruction” (4:33). This, too, was Jacksonian America’s chance for survival.
Mormon interrupts at this point to introduce himself to future readers and to explain his method of record keeping (5:8-17). He states that his record from A.D. 1 to 25 “cannot contain even a hundredth part of what was done among so many people in the space of twenty and five years” (v. 8) and that, although there are many records covering this period of Nephite history, he has taken his account from the plates of Nephi and recorded it on his own plates, made with his own hands (vv. 8-11). Introducing himself for the first time, he writes:
And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people [Mosiah 18]. … Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life. And it hath become expedient that I, according to the will of God, … should make a record of these things which have been done—Yea, a small record of that which hath taken place from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem, even down until the present time. … I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi. (3 Ne. 5:12-15, 20)
Why Mormon introduces himself so late in the narrative is puzzling. One assumes that he introduced himself at the beginning of his record in the portion lost by Harris. This reintroduction may signal that Smith had decided to replace the lost introduction with another record. Indeed, Mormon opens the door to a possible solution to Smith’s translation crisis, explaining that while there are other “records which do contain all the proceedings of this people, … a shorter but true account was given by Nephi. Therefore I have made my record of these things according to the record of Nephi, which was engraven on the plates of Nephi” (5:9; emphasis added). In referring to the personal record of Nephi III as a “shorter” account than other unspecified records with complete histories, Mormon reveals that his record is an abridgement of an abridgement. This is important because a revelation Smith receives about this time instructs him to translate directly from Nephi I’s plates (D&C 10), a task that will be easier now that the scope of Nephi’s record has been reduced.6
The May 1829 revelation excusing Smith from retranslating the Book of Lehi—the portion that was lost by Martin Harris—warns Smith that his enemies had altered the manuscript. If Smith attempted to reproduce what he had done before, his enemies would produce the altered manuscript as evidence of his deception. Of course, it is difficult to imagine how someone could alter a manuscript written in ink in the handwriting of Smith’s wife and his friend Martin Harris; nevertheless, the revelation shifted blame for not reproducing the Book of Lehi from Smith to an unidentified enemy. Clearly, the implication was that if Smith had retranslated the lost manuscript or “brought forth the same words again” (Preface, 1830 ed.; D&C 10:17, 31), the differences would have been in those places where his enemies had altered the words. This challenges the apologetic assumption regarding biblical anachronisms and what Alexander Campbell called “Smithisms” in the Book of Mormon as products of a loose and conceptualized translation.7 What the episode suggests is that Smith’s dictation was spontaneous and not reproducible.
Rather than retranslate Mormon’s abridgement of the Book of Lehi, Smith is to translate directly from the plates of Nephi:
And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi is more particular concerning the things which, in my wisdom, I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account—Therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained; And behold, you shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. (D&C 10:40-42; emphasis added)
This may mean either that Smith was to translate from the same plates of Nephi that Mormon had used to make his abridgment8 or from what would later be called the “small” plates of Nephi, a second record created by the first Nephi that dealt only with religious matters (1 Ne. 9:1-6; 19:1-6).9 Either way, a problem remains. If reference is made to the “large” plates, Smith did not anticipate an additional set of plates for Nephi; but if it refers to the “small” plates, Smith did not foresee the small plates ending with King Benjamin (Omni 1:30). The instruction to translate from the plates of Nephi “down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained” (D&C 10:41) implies that the record continued beyond the reign of Benjamin. This is also true of the remark in the same revelation that Smith’s enemies “have only got a part, or an abridgment of the account of Nephi” (v. 44), as well as the directive to “translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi” (v. 45).
The material that would appear later in the replacement text is anticipated in the revelation of May 1829. The revelation states that “all the remainder of this work does contain all those parts of my gospel which my holy prophets, yea, and also my disciples, desired in their prayers should come forth unto this people. And I said unto them, that it should be granted unto them according to their faith in their prayers” (D&C 10:46-47), which happens in Enos 1:11-18. The same sentiment is reflected in Mormon’s comment in 3 Nephi 5:14, that he made his record “that the prayers of those who have gone hence, who were the holy ones, should be fulfilled according to their faith” (cf. Morm. 8:25)—perhaps indicating the proximity of Mormon’s comment to the reception of section 10 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
The revelation contains material that Smith would later incorporate into his narrative of Jesus’ visit to America (D&C 10:54//3 Ne. 10:6; D&C 10:57-58//3 Ne. 9:15, 16; D&C 10:59-60//3 Ne. 15:21-22; D&C 10:63//3 Ne. 11:28-29, 31; D&C 10:67-68//3 Ne. 11:32, 33-34, 39-40). Smith was thinking about Jesus’ visit to America after he dictated Alma 7:8 and 16:20 about mid-April, and the parallels indicate that his thoughts were becoming more detailed as he neared the dictation of this story.
The relationship between Doctrine and Covenants 10 and 3 Nephi is intricate. The revelation picks up a theme from another one dictated to Martin Harris the previous March: “And for this cause have I said: If this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them” (D&C 10:53). More accurately, the original revelation promised that “if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, … and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old” (BofC 4:5).10 Jesus’ words to the Nephites are similar: “But if they [the American Gentiles] will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them” (3 Ne. 21:22).
Also, Doctrine and Covenants 10 is consistent with the theme of “reformation” mentioned in the March revelation. Both revelations speak of a church without baptism, whereas 3 Nephi adds the element of baptism as a prerequisite for salvation. When D&C 10 and 3 Nephi are compared, the addition of baptism in 3 Nephi is striking.
Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church. And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. (D&C 10:67-68)
And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me. …And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. …Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock… (3 Ne. 11:32, 33-34, 39-40)
Note that the revelation speaks of the church in the present tense even though Joseph Smith would not organize a church until a year later. In discussing the nature of additional instructions which were still to come, the Lord states that he will “bring this part of my gospel to the knowledge of the people” and that “I do not bring it to destroy that which they have [already] received, but to build it up” (D&C 10:52). Again, the theme in March 1829 is reformation rather than a complete overthrow of existing churches. The text continues:
Now I do not say this to destroy my church, but I say this to build up my church. Therefore, whosoever belongeth to my church need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments but build up churches unto themselves to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil—yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center. (D&C 10:54-56)
The revelation reflects a Seeker assumption that although the temporal church was in the wilderness of apostasy, the invisible church, though few in number, remained—spiritual Israel scattered among the apostate churches. This would include people like Joseph’s mother, his brothers Hyrum and Samuel, and sister Sophronia who, although members of the corrupted Presbyterian church, were what the Puritans called the invisible saints.11 This concept of church would include the independence of Joseph Sr. for whom his son now had good reason to be optimistic (D&C 4).
Before Mormon continues with his abridgement, he repeats Samuel’s prediction that the Lamanites in the last days would be restored to a knowledge of the truth (Hel. 15). This time the restoration of Native Americans is linked with the Old Testament prophecy regarding the restoration of Israel: “Surely [God] hath blessed the house of Jacob, and hath been merciful unto the seed of Joseph. … Yea, and surely shall he again bring a remnant of the seed of Joseph to the knowledge of the Lord their God. And as surely as the Lord liveth, will he gather in from the four quarters of the earth all the remnant of the seed of Jacob, who are scattered abroad upon all the face of the earth” (5:21, 23-24). Unlike his Puritan forebears, Smith was not content to simply evangelize the Indian. As “a remnant of the seed of Joseph,” God’s covenants with Israel applied to them. Therefore, the Indians would learn of God’s covenant, discover that Jesus is their redeemer, and gather to their own lands (vv. 25-26). This aspect of Smith’s message will not be welcomed by Jacksonians who are interested only in pushing Native Americans farther west.
At the conclusion of their six-year struggle with the robber bands (about A.D. 26), the Nephites return to their cities and begin to prosper again (6:1-3). About A.D. 28, the Nephites launch a building project to repair old buildings and construct new highways (6:4-9). While Americans were in general agreement about the need to improve the country’s infrastructure, especially in the area of transportation, they were divided as to how to fund such projects. Beginning with Alexander Hamilton, federalists argued that tax money should be dispersed for such purposes through a National Bank, while opponents such as Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Andrew Jackson held that each state should fund its own improvements. Development of a market economy required that internal improvements be made despite the disagreements. In 1817 New York governor DeWitt Clinton convinced his state’s legislature to begin construction of a 363-mile canal from Albany to Buffalo, and New York transportation became the envy of other states. Under the urging of President John Quincy Adams, the federal government in 1827 released 2 million acres to several states to build roads and canals; the following year, grants were given for another million acres. After a section of the Erie Canal was completed between Rochester and Utica in 1822, Palmyra became a boomtown of commercial activity.12 Smith may allude to the change he observed in Palmyra after the Erie Canal opened, although the context is a description of the social and political inequality which prevailed among the Nephites about A.D. 29:
There began to be some disputings among the people; and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceeding great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions; for there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers. And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning, yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches. … And thus there became a great inequality in all the land. (6:10-12, 14)
Joseph felt the effects of being part of the underprivileged class, complaining in 1832 that poverty had “deprived [him] of the benefit of an education.”13 By 1830, there was a movement in New York politics for free, tax-supported schools.14 A contemporary, Thomas Hamilton, reported the ideology of the movement: “It is false, they say, to maintain that there is at present no privilege order, no practical aristocracy, in a country where distinctions of education are permitted.”15 Despite Governor Clinton’s attempt to improve education in New York in early 1828, educational opportunities continued to be a distinction between classes.16
Things take a turn for the worse in the Book of Mormon after a family-based secret society is formed about A.D. 30 to protect corrupt judges (6:19-30). When Lachoneus II has these judges brought before the authorities and tried for their crimes, he finds it impossible to bring them to justice since “almost all the lawyers and the high priests” belonged to the secret combination. Mormon editorializes: “Therefore they did combine against the people of the Lord, and enter into a covenant to destroy them, and to deliver those who were guilty of murder from the grasp of justice, which was about to be administered according to the law. And they did set at defiance the law and the rights of their country” (6:29-30).
Mormon’s account must have again reminded New Yorkers of William Morgan’s murder and of Governor Clinton’s frustrated efforts to bring the Masonic conspirators to justice. In 1827 Clinton began investigating the situation for the purpose of a hearing, but he had little success.17 It was reported in 1829 that those responsible for Morgan’s disappearance were protected by “masonic witnesses” and that “grand juries, a majority of whom were masons, have omitted to find bills of indictment when there was proof before them of outrages.”18 An 1830 anti-Masonic convention claimed: “When intimations were thrown out that appeal would be made to the laws, more than one freemason has been heard to say, that the judges were masons, the sheriffs were masons, and the jurymen would be masons, and set at defiance the requirements of justice.”19 Nevertheless, as one historian noted in 1842, some accused Clinton of duplicity since the he himself was a Mason.20
Not content with murdering the prophets, this secret society conspires to murder the chief judge and set up a king (6:30; 7:1). When Lachoneus is assassinated, the Nephites divide into tribes, and “every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them. … And the regulations of the government were destroyed, because of the secret combination of the friends and kindreds of those who murdered the prophets” (7:3, 6).
After fragmenting the nation, the secret society steps forward and crowns a king, Jacob, one of the chief persecutors of the prophets (7:9-10). Even though there is otherwise no centralized government, the tribal factions nevertheless unite against Jacob’s “secret combination,” causing him to retreat with his band into “the northernmost part of the land” (vv. 11-12). From this newly established headquarters in a city called Jacobugath, King Jacob begins to reach out to other Nephites (v. 12, 9:9). Gaining strength, he is soon able to contend with the tribes that have resisted his rule (7:12), and the threat of destruction looms large over those areas of the country.
In naming the character Jacob, Smith perhaps made a connection with the Jacobins, the radical revolutionaries who met in closed meetings, had influence in some parts of the world, and unofficially oversaw the French Revolution. The Jacobins became known for their cruelty and barbarity during the Reign of Terror (1793-94) which culminated in the “great purification.” Anti-Masons believed that the Jacobins were Freemasons with ties to the Illuminati, an exclusive group of Bavarian Masons who had organized, it was believed, in order to overthrow the world’s governments and destroy Christianity. In constructing various scenarios for the Gadianton bands, Smith may have been partly inspired by these anti-Mason interpretations of the French Revolution.
Religious conservatives in late eighteenth-century New England such as the Reverend Jedidiah Morse feared that the Illuminati were in America and aided by the liberal Jeffersonian Republicans.21 In a sermon delivered in 1798, he declared: “There is great reason to believe that the French revolution was kindled by the Illuminati. … The successes of the French armies, many of them, can be traced to the influence and the treacheries of different branches of this society. There are too many evidences that this Order has had its branches established, in some form or other, and its emissaries secretly at work in this country, for several years past.”22 After associating the Jacobins with the Illuminati, Morse further announced: “It is not improbable that the affiliated Jacobin Societies in this country were instituted to propagate here the principles of the illuminated mother club in France.”23
In many ways, the political anti-Masonry of the late 1820s and early 1830s was a revival of the previous agitation in New England over the Illuminati. The Wayne Sentinel for 26 September 1828 alleged that “Freemasons have been the cause of all the ‘seditions, privy conspiracies, and rebellions,’ which, for the last thirty years, have afflicted Europe. … The Free-masons are, therefore, radically and essentially, demagogues, jacobins, conspirators, assassins, infidels, traitors, and atheists. … Their secret is the watch-word of sedition and rebellion—their object is anarchy and plunder. … Unless they are suppressed, there will soon be neither religion, morals, literature, nor civilized society left!”
Resurrecting images of the Illuminati scare in the early republic, the Reverend Lebbeus Armstrong declared in 1830:
And ere the Commonwealth was apprized of the imposture, or discovered omens of danger, the chains of masonic despotism were forging and preparations fast making to bind the nation in its power. … After all this preparation, suppose a plot had been formed to overthrow our dearbought Republican Government, to erect a throne in this western world, and place on it a Grand, Sublime, Royal, Ten Times Thrice Illustrious, and Absolutely Sovereign Masonic King. … Under such circumstances, what could have prevented the total overthrow of our national government, and the establishment of an absolute Masonic Monarchy? If the government of France was revolutionized in three days, might not the government of these United States have been changed to Monarchy in one day by the Mystic Power of Masonic Stratagem? Nothing could have prevented such a revolution, but the interposition of that Divine Providence. … The God of Israel has interposed. Glory be to his name; the Lord of Hosts has hitherto prevented our national ruin.24
Switching his concern to the contemporary threat, Armstrong expressed fear that the situation in America could at any moment erupt into “civil war,” include Jacobin-like purges upon the anti-Masons, and culminate in the establishment of a Masonic monarchy. He warned: “Let masonry prevail and prosper, and the deplorable results may be looked for, of a Masonic Monarchy for our form of government; a masonic established religion; a masonic church; a masonic way to a masonic heaven; and blood and massacre, and destruction to all who subscribe not to support the Monarch, who sways the energies, and rewards the services of the works of darkness. Then might be written with tears and blood, America is fallen!”25 In this context, the Book of Mormon’s repeated anti-monarchical stance becomes less a reflection of the early American sentiment against the English form of government and more of a warning against the establishment of a Masonic king in America (e.g., Mosiah 29:5-39). Thus, in speaking of latter-day America, Nephi’s brother Jacob proclaims: “This land, said God, … shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land. … For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish. … Wherefore, for this cause, … I must needs destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murders, and of abominations” (2 Ne. 10:10, 11, 14, 15).
Given the anti-Masonic concerns about the establishment of a Masonic monarchy by force,26 the Book of Mormon character Jacob is likely based on Jackson. Similar to the Book of Mormon’s portrayal of Jacob, the political opponents of Jackson, especially in New York, focused on four issues: his Masonic membership, particularly his rank of “grand king” in the order; his intention to decentralize the federal government in support of states’ rights; his promotion of the concept of a secular government, which opponents interpreted as an attempt to demoralize America and weaken the church; and his potential to use military force.
The Book of Mormon twice associates factionalism and the collapse of the central government with “secret combinations”(Hel. 10:18-19; 11:1; 3 Ne. 7:3, 6). The Wayne Sentinel reported on 11 July 1828 that the opponents of Jackson worried that his election would result in “the dissolution of the Union.” Indeed, anti-Masons and other political conservatives feared that Jackson would decentralize and weaken the federal government. Martin Van Buren and his supporters in New York had taken up the states’ rights cause and openly opposed President John Quincy Adams’s nationalizing policies and therefore aligned with Jackson in 1828. Historian Lee Benson writes: “Whatever principles and policies the Jackson Party may have adopted in other states, … it was emphatically a ‘state rights’ party in New York. As its Address to the voters made clear, it wanted the election to turn on the issue of state rights.”27 According to this Address, the 1828 election represented a “mighty political conflict, which like its memorable predecessor in 1800, tests the spirit, the strength and the wisdom of our happy constitution. The great question of power between the states and the federal government is again to be decided.”28
The Book of Mormon repeatedly links “secret combinations” with religious persecution (Alma 37:30; 3 Ne. 6:23; Ether 8:25). Similarly, anti-Masons and evangelical Protestants were opposed to the Jacksonian insistence on the complete separation of church and state, or the theory of religious nonintervention. Jacksonians refused to support national fast and prayer days or to participate in special congressional prayer meetings and actively opposed the Sabbatarians petitioning Congress for the discontinuance of Sunday mail.29 Anti-Masons, on the other hand, generally supported the Federalist-Whig theory of “national religion” and eventually joined with the movement inspired by Presbyterian minister Ezra Stiles Ely’s 1827 call for believers to form “a Christian party in politics.”30 By 1830, observed historian Leslie Griffen, “the Antimasons felt that they had translated Ely’s dream into reality.”31 The Albany Argus complained in 1830 that anti-Masons wanted “to inquire into every man’s religious opinions, and to reduce all to a particular creed,” and the Working Man’s Advocate charged in 1830 that “political Anti-Masonry is neither more nor less than a Church and State intrigue.”32
The possible analogous association of Jackson with the Jacobins would have been reinforced in the minds of the first readers of the Book of Mormon because of Jackson’s harsh, decisive actions as a military general that were exploited by political opponents during the 1828 election. Recalling the days prior to Jackson’s election, Martin Van Buren, who was elected governor of New York in 1828, said that many who would otherwise support Jackson’s election were kept by his political opponents “in constant apprehension that he would, through passion or ill advisement commit some rash act,” and confessed that before becoming better acquainted with Jackson after the election, he too shared “not a little of the same feeling.” Van Buren reported that his friend Thomas Richie of the Richmond (Virginia) Enquirer “scarcely ever went to bed in those exciting times without apprehension that he would wake up to hear of some coup d’etat by the General … and his letters to me were filled with remonstrances and cautions upon the subject.”33 If the politicos were unable to separate rhetoric from reality, those on small rural farms had little reason to curb their imaginations.
Returning to the Book of Mormon’s narrative—while King Jacob gathers strength in his northern headquarters, the prophet Nephi begins a three-year ministry to warn the Nephites of the impending destruction that will occur at Jesus’ crucifixion. The brevity of Nephi’s ministry may reflect Smith’s own sense of urgency. Much like Smith, Nephi had been “visited by angels and also the voice of the Lord” (3 Ne. 7:15) and had a dead brother whom Nephi brings back to life (v. 19), something Smith perhaps wished he could have done. Despite his faith and the power of his preaching, Nephi is unable to influence the masses, and as the text says, he “grieved for the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds” (7:15-16). Many become angry with Nephi because in performing miracles, he demonstrates that “he had greater power than they” (v. 18). Nevertheless, he enjoys a measure of success, baptizing and ordaining some to the “ministry,” who are then permitted to baptize like Nephi (v. 25).
In the thirty-fourth year after the appearance of the new star, the people begin to anticipate the three days of darkness that Samuel predicted would accompany Jesus’ death (8:2-3). Samuel had said nothing about the timing of the event, so one wonders how the Nephites would know that this was the year to look for a sign. “And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land” (8:5). While the Book of Mormon, like the Quakers of Smith’s day, followed the Old Testament practice of numbering the months, these numbers do not correspond to 4 January A.D. 34. Rather, because the Nephites restarted their calendar with the sign of Jesus’ birth, the Book of Mormon implies that he died the same month he was born.
The timing of the sign of Jesus’ death in the “thirty and fourth year” is also problematic since Jesus is generally believed to have been crucified at age thirty-three, not thirty-four plus four days. Realizing a potential chronological difficulty, Smith has Mormon hedge: “And now it came to pass, if there was no mistake made by this man [Nephi III] in the reckoning of our time,” he says, then “the thirty and third year had passed away” (8:2).
For about three hours, the western hemisphere experiences storms, earthquakes, and convulsions of unbelievable magnitude. Cities in the land southward are destroyed. The great city Zarahemla is burned, the city Moroni sinks into the sea, and the city Moronihah is buried under a great mountain (8:6-11). The land northward receives the greatest destruction (v. 12), the upheaval being so great that “the face of the whole earth became deformed” (v. 17). The implication is that this three-hour destruction coincides with the three hours of darkness said to have accompanied Jesus’ crucifixion, as related in the Gospels (e.g., Matt. 27:45). But in the Gospels the earthquake does not occur until after the three hours of darkness, whereas in 3 Nephi there are three hours of earthquake followed by three days of darkness.
The three days of darkness were particularly unusual in that no fire could be lit, even though humans continued to be able to breathe. It is a tangible darkness: “thick darkness,” a “vapor of darkness,” “mists of darkness” (8:20, 22).34 One cannot read 3 Nephi’s account of this without thinking of the three days of darkness Moses called down on Egypt, also described as a “thick darkness” and a “darkness which may be felt” (Exod. 10:21, 22). One thinks of Moses ascending into Sinai amid thundering, lightning, and a cloud of smoke, when he draws “near unto the thick darkness where God was” (Exod. 20:18, 21; cf. Deut. 4:11; 5:22; 1 Kings 8:12; 2 Chron. 6:1). More importantly, the magnitude of the destruction leads one to think of Jesus’ second coming, especially the words of the Old Testament prophet Joel, whom Smith and many contemporaries believed foresaw the end of the world where he says that “the day of the Lord … is near at hand,” which will be “a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness” (Joel 2:1-2; cf. Zeph. 1:14-15). When quoting this passage in 1839, Smith said that the prediction “cannot be now of a long time lingering.”35 Clearly, his aim was to allow his first readers, especially those who were already anticipating Jesus’ imminent return, to more easily identify with the Nephite situation.
In the darkness, the survivors howl and mourn, expressing remorse for having rejected the prophets and for not having repented before the day of their destruction (8:23-25). Finally a voice from above is heard describing the extensive destruction, city by city (9:1-12). Jacobugath, headquarters of King Jacob and his secret combination, is singled out as “above all the wickedness of the whole earth” and therefore deserving of a fiery annihilation. “It was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land,” the voice declares, “therefore I did cause them to be burned, to destroy them from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up unto me any more against them” (v. 9).
Then the voice announces itself to be that of “Jesus Christ the Son of God” (9:15). In the theological language of the Gospel of John, composed near the end of the first century A.D., Jesus declares:
I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name. I came unto my own, and my own received me not. … And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God. … I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. (3 Ne. 9:15-16//John 1:1-4, 11-12; 17:21; Rev. 21:6; cf. D&C 10:57-58)
The voice of Jesus gives commands to discontinue animal sacrifice, because the law of Moses is fulfilled in him (9:17, 19). What is now required for an offering is “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” in preparation for a baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost (v. 20). Reflecting Matthew 1:21, Jesus declares: “Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin” (v. 21; emphasis added)—reminding one of Alma’s and Amulek’s debate with the Ammonihan Universalists (Alma 11:36; 21:17; cf. Hel. 5:10). Then he continues: “Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved” (v. 22; cf. Matt. 18:4). Consistent with Doctrine and Covenants 10:67, water baptism is again missing as a requirement for salvation.
In the darkness, the astonished inhabitants wait many hours in complete silence (10:1-2). Then the voice of Jesus comes again, declaring in words borrowed from Jesus’ lamentation over Jerusalem in the Gospel of Matthew (cf. Matt. 23:37):
O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you. … O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not. (3 Ne. 10:4)
This New Testament passage has deep meaning to Smith, for it played a key role in Solomon Mack’s conversion. Each time Solomon thought back on his stubbornness and lifelong refusal to repent, Jesus’ lamentation over Jerusalem came into his mind.36 Interestingly, the lamentation also appeared in Smith’s May 1829 revelation regarding the missing manuscript, providing another indication that Smith was thinking about the content that his dictation would subsequently include (D&C 10:65).
After hearing the voice for the third time, the Nephite people begin again to weep and howl (10:8). At the end of the third day, the convulsions cease and the darkness dissipates (v. 9). The survivors, who constitute the “more righteous part of the people” (v. 12), can now see the vast destruction and verify how completely the words of the prophets have been fulfilled. The world as the Nephites knew it has ended and a new era is about to commence with the appearance of the resurrected Jesus.
2. One thinks also of the Old Testament prophet Samuel since, as becomes apparent from the discussion below, Samuel the Lamanite preaches at a time when a secret society is seeking to establish a king among the Nephites, something the Israelite prophet opposed (1 Sam. 8, 12).
5. William Morgan, Illustrations of Masonry (Rochester, NY: David C. Miller, 1827), 24. In arguing against an anti-Masonic interpretation of 3 Nephi 4:7, Thomas seems to confuse the Gadiantons’ “lamb-skin” aprons with the unspecified animal skins the Lamanites wore into battle (Alma 43:20; 49:6). See Mark D. Thomas, Digging in Cumorah: Reclaiming Book of Mormon Narratives (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999), 213-14.
6. In dating Doctrine and Covenants 10 (hereafter D&C) to May 1829, I follow both the 1833 Book of Commandments and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. An exact date is difficult to determine, but it was apparently dictated before Smith reached the account of Jesus’ American ministry beginning in 3 Nephi 11 for reasons I discuss below.
7. See B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1907), 1:278, 307; see also Edward H. Ashment, “The Book of Mormon—A Literal Translation?” Sunstone, Mar.-Apr. 1980, 10-14.
11. See Dan Vogel, Religious Seekers and the Advent of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1988), 49-66, 132; Edmund S. Morgan, Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1963). This concept was expressed by Hyrum Smith when he recorded in his journal on 29 November 1832 and 20 January 1833 respectively: “baptized two into the visible kingdom of God” and “baptized two into the visible church of Christ” (Hyrum Smith Papers, Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, UT).
14. See J. R. Commons et al., History of Labour in the United States, 4 vols. (New York, 1918), 1:181; W. O. Bourne, History of the Public School Society of the City of New York (New York, 1873), 76-123; and Working Man’s Advocate, 1 May 1830.
25. Ibid., 24. In his 1827 book, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Tendency of Speculative Free-masonry, 3rd ed. (Utica, NY, 1827), John G. Stearns “led the way in expounding the theory that Masonry was a state within a state and that one day Masons would overthrow the democratic government of the United States and would crown one of their ‘grand kings’ as ruler of this nation” (William Preston Vaughn, The Antimasonic Party in the United States, 1826-1843 [Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1983], 20).
26. In addition to the possible establishment of a Masonic king, anti-Masons were not pleased that some Masonic officials were already designated Kings and Grand Kings. The New England Anti-Masonic Almanac for 1831, for instance, worried that “there are as many as five hundred Masonic Kings in the United States … [and] many subordinate Kings in each state” (32).
27. Lee Benson, The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961), 30. Concerning Jackson’s policies as president, historian Robert V. Remini writes: “During the first years of his presidency, Jackson’s own thinking about issues and policies tended to be neo-Jeffersonian and conservative, leaning toward States’ rights and the economics of laissez faire, but fundamentally pragmatic in concept, and suffused with a strong sense of popular need. Later in his administration he edged closer to the notion of a strong central government, but as he moved he was invariably motivated by sheer political necessity” (Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson [New York: Harper and Row, 1966], 126).
29. See Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1945), 350-60; Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 185-189; and Richard R. John, Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 169-205. Pro-Jacksonian newspaperman James Gordon Bennett believed that “Mormonism … is the genuine fruit of the same seeds which produced the Sunday Mail movement” (“Mormon Religion,” Morning Courier and Enquirer [NY], 1 Sept. 1831 [EMD 3:288]). The courthouse in Montrose, Pennsylvania, has an anti-Sabbatarian petition signed by fifty residents of Harmony, including Isaac Hale’s sons, Alva and Reuben, affirming religious separation (Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, PA).
30. Ezra Stiles Ely, The Duty of Christian Freemen to Elect Christian Rulers (Philadelphia, 1828). See also Joseph L. Blau, “‘The Christian Party in Politics,’” Review of Religion 11 (Nov. 1946): 22-35.
31. Leslie Griffen, “The Antimasonic Persuasion” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1951), 238-39, n. 55; see also Michael F. Holt, “The Antimasonic and Know Nothing Parties,” in History of U.S. Political Parties, ed. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., 4 vols. (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1973), 1:587; Kathleen Smith Kutolowski, “Antimasonry Reexamined: Social Bases of the Grass-Roots Party,” Journal of American History 71 (Sept. 1984): 289-90; Anthony F. C. Wallace, Rockdale: The Growth of an American Village in the Early Industrial Revolution (New York: Knopf, 1978), 337-47.
33. Martin Van Buren, Inquiry into the Origin and Course of Political Parties in the United States (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1867), 322-23. For attempts by Jackson’s supporters to mitigate such fears, see Address of the Republican General Committee of Young Men of the City and County of New-York, Friendly to the Election of Gen. Andrew Jackson to the Presidency, to the Republican Electors of the State of New-York (New York: [General Committee of Young Men], 1828), 13; and “The Fear of Military Chieftainism,” Wayne Sentinel, 26 Sept. 1828.
34. I disagree with Kowallis’s suggestion that both the massive destruction and subsequent three days of darkness were the result of volcanic eruption. See Bart J. Kowallis, “In the Thirty and Fourth Year: A Geologist’s View of the Great Destruction in 3 Nephi,” BYU Studies 37 (1997-98): 136-90. True enough that the limited Tehuantepec theory places Book of Mormon events within a limited region of significant volcanic activity, but the Book of Mormon makes no reference to volcanos either here or elsewhere, which would be unusual given the presumed frequency of eruptions in Mesoamerica. While Kowallis provided no evidence that such wide-scale eruptions occurred in Mesoamerica in A.D. 33/34, Benjamin R. Jordan recently surveyed the data from ice cores and admitted that evidence for the volcanic hypothesis is “far from conclusive.” The difficulty, Jordan observes, stems from the fact that “Mesoamerica is dominated by volcanic deposits … [because] it is the second most volcanically active region on the earth” and the dating of deposits can be approximated only to plus or minus ten years (see Benjamin R. Jordan, “Volcanic Destruction in the Book of Mormon: Possible Evidence from Ice Cores,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 : 80-87).