Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet
by Dan Vogel
While Hyrum Smith was attending conference in Fayette, Levi Daggett initiated legal action against him in Manchester for an unpaid debt. On 8 June 1830, Justice Nathan Pierce issued a summons for Hyrum to appear in court. The summons was returned undelivered on 18 June. Pierce issued a second summons, which was returned on 28 June. Nevertheless, Daggett’s case was heard on 28 June and Joseph Sr. appeared in behalf of Hyrum to accept the court’s judgment against his son.1 The threat of imprisonment was temporarily abated, but Hyrum’s residence in Manchester was quickly coming to an end.
Despite the disapproval of their neighbors, believers were holding regular public meetings in Palmyra and Manchester. Abner Cole reported in his Palmyra Reflector that the Mormons held a “disorderly meeting on Sunday evening [20 June] at the MARKET” where “one of JO’S greatest apostles” stirred up an approving crowd.2 Although Samuel Smith was the only elder in the area, Cole probably referred to the overly zealous Martin Harris. About this same time, another meeting was held at the Smith cabin in Manchester, at which Harris preached. Darius Pierce, son of Justice Pierce, laughed at something Harris said. According to Sylvia Walker, who was twelve at the time and probably attended the meeting with her parents, Pardon and Ruth Butts, Harris became angry and reproved Pierce.3 This may have been the occasion referred to by Cole when he reported on 22 June 1830 that “a ‘Gold Bible’ apostle”—meaning Harris—“lately undertook to anathematize an infidel.”4 Walker remembered that Pierce “left the house, and when he was in the road began to denounce the Smith family and talked nearly one hour. The audience left the house and listened to him. He reviewed the character of them [the Smiths] and said they stole six of his fat sheep. His talk greatly pleased his neighbors.”5
Meanwhile, back in Harmony, Joseph Smith began a revision of Genesis, probably sometime between 13 and 25 June 1830, dictating to Oliver Cowdery the first five chapters of what would come to be called the Book of Moses.6 Smith brought to mind the recent exorcism of Newel Knight in Colesville when he dictated a dramatic encounter between Satan and Moses known as the “Visions of Moses” (Moses 1). Intended as a preface to Genesis, the revelation opens with Moses gazing upon God and his creations with his “spiritual eyes,” for as he states, “my natural eyes could not have beheld” (v. 11). After the vision closes and God’s glory is withdrawn, Satan arrives to tempt Moses, saying: “Moses, son of man, worship me” (v. 12). But Moses detects Satan: “Who art thou? … Where is thy glory, that I should worship thee? For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were strengthened before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man” (vv. 13-15). Another reason why Moses is able to detect Satan is hinted at. “Get thee hence, Satan,” Moses commands; “deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten” (v. 16). While not explicit, this passage implies that Satan had not appeared in human form, perhaps reflecting the experiences of Martin Harris and Newel Knight.7
Responding to Moses’ command to depart, “Satan cried with a loud voice, and rent upon the earth, and commanded [Moses], saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me” (v. 19). Calling upon God for strength, Moses says: “In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan” (v. 21). Then, with a screech and a howl, Satan vanishes. When God reappears, he tells Moses: “Worlds without number have I created … and by the Son I created them” (v. 33; cf. Heb. 1:2). This touches on a favorite nineteenth-century speculation that the sun, moon, and stars were inhabited, a theme which Smith will develop further in subsequent revelations (i.e., Doctrine and Covenants 76 and 88; hereafter D&C).8
Also at this time, Smith revises the opening lines of Genesis.9 Although his revisions are minimal, they attempt to bring Genesis into conformity with a New Testament and Book of Mormon teaching that Jesus is the Creator (John 1:1-4, 14; Heb. 1:1-3; Ether 3:14-16):
God said, Let us make man in our im-
age, after our likeness … So God created
man in his won image, in the image of
God created he him. (Gen. 1:26-27)
And I, God, said unto mine Only Be-
gotton, which was with me from the be-
ginning: Let us make man in our image,
after our likeness … And I, God, created
man ion mine own image, in the image of
mine Only Begotten created I him. (Mo-
Another important change in Genesis (2:4-5) is where Smith tries to reconcile the two stories of creation which deists and skeptics believed demonstrated multiple authorship.11 Smith inserts the words: “For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth … for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air” (Moses 3:4-5). It remains unclear whether Smith meant to describe a spiritual creation followed by a physical one, as he would later teach, or an “ideal” existence that existed in God’s foreknowledge.12 If Smith intended his revision of Genesis 1 to be a “conceptual blue-print” formulated by God before creation, he was not alone; for without the benefit of higher criticism, others besides Smith had attempted to resolve the seeming contradictions between the two creation stories and interpreted Genesis similarly.13
The next important change expanded Genesis 3 to explain the origin of Satan and how he influenced the serpent that beguiled Eve in the garden of Eden. Similar to Lehi’s description of Satan as a fallen angel (2 Ne. 2:17-18),14 Smith has God state:
Satan … came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved Son … said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down. … And Satan … spake by the mouth of the serpent. (Moses 4:1-3, 6, 7)
Having Satan in Genesis is anachronistic, but the competing soteriology Smith describes had meaning for his followers in Colesville. Like the Universalists, Satan would see that all humanity was saved. However, this proposal is said to conflict with God’s plan, which ironically requires not only free will but also temptation, which Satan provides.
Between Genesis 3 and 4, Smith adds fifteen verses to describe events following Adam’s and Eve’s exile from the garden. The new verses not only claim that Cain and Abel had older siblings, but consistent with the Book of Mormon’s descriptions of pre-Christian Christianity, Adam and his children are commanded to sacrifice “the firstlings of their flocks … [in] similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father” (Moses 5:5, 7). Then Satan appears to Adam’s children, declaring himself to be a “son of God” and thereby causing many to sin (v. 13; cf. 2 Ne. 9:9). Through the Holy Ghost, God commands Adam’s children to repent or be damned, and in words full of meaning for Universalists, the new text states: “The words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore they must be fulfilled” (v. 15).
In revising the story of Cain’s murder of Abel, Smith revisits the subject of “secret combinations” which is so prevalent in the Book of Mormon. In the Book of Ether, Akish administers an oath which was “handed down even from Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning” (Ether 8:14-15; see also Hel. 6:27).15 Thus, Smith has Satan say to Abel: “Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it they shall surely die” (Moses 5:29). While the term “secret combination” is not used, another term is utilized which is just as revealing. After entering into an oath with Satan, Cain exclaims: “Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness” (Moses 5:31). Many have commented on the play between “Master Mahan” and “Master Mason,” the name given to third-degree Masons.16
Although Joseph Jr. had been unable to make the final payment on his property, which was due 1 May 1830, he nevertheless managed to pay Isaac Hale interest on the outstanding $86 on 21 June.17 It is unknown where he got the money, but it may have been from sales of the Book of Mormon in Fayette.
In company with his wife and the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Smith traveled to Colesville, New York, arriving there on Friday, 25 June.18 The next day, followers built a dam across a small stream near the Knight home for a baptismal service. However, a “mob,” which Smith believed was rallied by “certain sectarian priests of the neighborhood,” destroyed the dam during the evening. A Sunday service was nevertheless held, although the baptisms were delayed until Monday. “The Sabbath arrived and we held our meeting,” Smith remembered. “Oliver Cowdery preached, and others of us bore testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, the doctrine of repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost &c &c.”19 At the conclusion of the meeting, a disputation arose between Smith’s followers and those who objected to the growth of Mormonism in the area.
Among the critics was the Reverend John Sherer, a Presbyterian minister who had been commissioned by the American Home Missionary Society in February 1830 to serve as pastor to the churches in Colesville and nearby Sandford. Alarmed by Smith’s activities, Sherer resorted to the desperate measure of trying to prevent any Mormon baptisms in his new field of labor. In collusion with Colburn family members in Sandford and Guilford, Sherer attempted to forcibly abduct seventeen-year-old Emily Colburn before she could be baptized. She had been a member of the Presbyterian church in Sandford since about 1828. At the time, Emily was visiting her older sister, Sally, and brother-in-law, Newel Knight, and was strongly inclined to join the new church. Sherer probably would have succeeded if a determined Sally Knight had not stepped forward and prevented the abduction from taking place.
Sherer would not give up easily, however. The following morning, Emily’s brother-in-law arrived in Colesville with power of attorney from Amasa Colburn, Emily’s father, and escorted Emily to Sandford where she had been living with her brother Esick. Despite the efforts of Sherer and the Colburn family, the eighteen-year-old girl returned to Colesville in the fall and submitted to baptism.20
On Monday, 28 June, the dam was rebuilt and Cowdery, according to Smith’s history, baptized the following thirteen persons: twenty-five-year-old Emma (Hale) Smith; forty-two-year-old Hezekiah and thirty-two-year-old Martha (Long) Peck; fifty-eight-year-old Joseph and fifty-six-year-old Polly (Peck) Knight and their nineteen-year-old daughter, Polly, and twenty-two-year-old son, Joseph Jr.; forty-two-year-old William and thirty-two-year-old Esther (Knight) Stringham and their thirteen-year-old daughter, Julia; sixty-four-year-old Aaron and sixty-four-year-old Esther (Peck) Culver; and twenty-nine-year-old Levi Hall, of whom little is known.21 Sally (Colburn) Knight, the twenty-six-year-old wife of Newel Knight, was also probably baptized at this time.22
As the service commenced, a mob began to collect, eventually numbering about fifty men. At the service’s conclusion, Smith and his followers took refuge in Joseph Knight’s home, but the mob continued to harass, insult, and threaten the small group. Joseph Knight’s son, Joseph Jr., gave an account that offers a glimpse of the danger and terror the believers faced: “That night our wagons were turned over and wood piled on them, and some sunk in the water, rails were piled against our doors, and chains sunk in the stream and a great deal of mischief done.”23
Attempting to disperse the mob, Smith and the others moved to Newel Knight’s home. The mob followed them there. “I talked to them considerable,” Smith recalled, “but in general to no purpose.”24 Although Smith planned to hold a meeting later that same day to confirm the recently baptized converts, the mob intervened and the meeting was delayed until Wednesday, 30 June. However, before the evening was over, Smith found himself arrested.25
The officer who apprehended him was Ebenezer Hatch, a constable for Chenango County, who had crossed county lines to arrest the prophet on the charge of being, according to Smith’s history, a “disorderly person; of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon, &c &c.”26 Actually, the warrant had nothing to do with Smith’s preaching or the recent activities in Colesville, over which Chenango authorities had no jurisdiction, but pertained to the four-year-old charge brought against him in South Bainbridge. Smith’s days as a treasure seer had returned to haunt him. Joseph Knight remembered that some of the mob, whom he called “vagabonds,” conspired with “a young fellow by the name of Doctor Benton,” believed to be South Bainbridge physician Abram W. Benton, to swear out a warrant against Smith for “pretending to see under ground.” They had found, Knight said, “a little clause … in the [New] York laws against such things.”27 John S. Reed, Smith’s legal counsel, said Smith was arrested for the “crime of glass looking and juggling [and] fortune telling and so on, for which the state of New York was against it and made it a crime and the crime was a fine and imprisonment.”28 Indeed, New York law included in its definition of disorderly persons anyone “pretending to tell fortunes, or to discover where lost or stolen goods may be found.”29
Before commencing the ten-mile trip to South Bainbridge, Constable Hatch informed the prisoner that a mob was waiting along the road a short distance from Joseph Knight’s home and intended to assault Smith, but that he was determined to resist this effort. In fact, the two men were not long on the road before a mob surrounded their wagon, at which time Hatch whipped the horse and sped off, the mob in pursuit. The constable’s wagon lost a wheel, but Smith and Hatch were able to replace it and continue on their way before being overtaken by the mob.30
Arriving in South Bainbridge late in the evening, Smith learned that his case would be delayed until the next morning. In the meantime, Joseph Knight and others from Colesville arrived to protect and support the young prophet. Knight asked Smith if he wanted legal counsel, and when the prophet said yes, he went in search of James Davidson, a long-time resident of South Bainbridge who was well versed in the law.31
Hatch spent the night guarding Smith in a room located on the second floor of the village tavern. Promising to defend his prisoner should anyone attempt to enter the room, Hatch began to slumber but kept a loaded rifle at his side and his feet against the door.
On the morning of the trial, Knight recalled, “there gathered a multitude of people that were against [Smith].” Upon seeing the agitated crowd and learning that the most able prosecutors had been retained, Davidson told Knight that “it looked like a squally day,” meaning that the situation looked threatening. Davidson advised Knight to hire John Reed, who was “a pretty good speaker” and knowledgeable.32
Smith was arraigned before Justice Joseph P. Chamberlin about 10:00 a.m. on 1 July.33 Before a boisterous crowd, the prosecution began presenting its case. The witnesses included Josiah Stowell, who according to Smith’s account testified concerning an unpaid debt. When asked: “Did not [Smith] … tell you, that an angel had appeared unto him, and authorised him to get the horse from you?” Stowell responded: “No, he told me no such story.” When Stowell hesitated to say whether Smith had paid for the horse, the justice instructed him to answer. The old man responded: “I hold his note for the price of the horse, which I consider as good as the pay—for I am well acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr., and know him to be an honest man; and if he wishes I am ready to let him have another horse on the same terms.”34
The line of questioning was intended to establish the defendant’s character, but the prosecution was also interested in Stowell’s knowledge of treasure-seeing activities in South Bainbridge and other areas along the Susquehanna River. Abram W. Benton, who attended the trial, said the questioning of Stowell included the following:
“Did Smith ever tell you there was money hid in a certain place
which he mentioned?”
“Did you dig?”
“Did you find any money?”
“Did he not lie to you then, and deceive you?”
“No! the money was there, but we did not get quite to it!”
“How do you know it was there?”
“Smith said it was!”
This questioning is consistent with the prosecution’s legal theory, as recalled by both Knight and Reed.
Benton said that Addison Austin followed Stowell in the witness box, testifying that “at the very same time that Stowell was digging for money, he, Austin, was in company with said Smith alone, and asked him to tell him honestly whether he could see this money or not.” Austin said that “Smith hesitated some time, but finally replied, ‘to be candid, between you and me, I cannot, any more than you or any body else; but any way to get a living.’” No doubt, this testimony was intended to head off the argument that Smith was sincere and therefore not culpable. In fact, where the law prohibited any person from “pretending to … discover where lost or stolen goods may be found,” it nevertheless assumed that all such activity was fraudulent, without distinguishing between true and false scryers. Virtually nothing is known of Austin, so an assessment of his testimony is not possible, although Benton found it credible.
According to Smith’s history, the prosecution questioned Jonathan Thompson about a yoke of oxen Smith purchased from him. To the question, “Did he not obtain them of you by telling you that he had a revelation to the effect that he was to have them?” Thompson responded: “No. He did not mention a word of the kind concerning the oxen; he purchased them, same as any other man would.”35 However, Smith’s version of this testimony is questionable. The assessment records for Harmony indicate that Smith was taxed for two cows in 1829 and 1830 but not for oxen.36 More likely, Thompson was questioned much as he had been in March 1826 when he said that Smith used his seer stone to find a treasure in Windsor, New York, but that it had slipped away through the earth.37
According to Smith, the trial was delayed while the prosecution sent for Stowell’s two daughters, probably twenty-five-year-old Rhoda and twenty-three-year-old Miriam with whom Smith admitted he “had at times kept company.” When the women arrived, Smith said, they were individually “examined, touching my character, and conduct in general but particularly as to my behavior towards them both in public and private.” Smith said “both [women] bore such testimony in my favor, as left my enemies without a pretext on their account.”38
Of course, Stowell’s daughters had no reason to cooperate with the prosecution. Despite the women’s denials, one wonders if there was some substance to the prosecution’s expectations about how they would testify. In 1844, while publicly denying accusations of polygamy, Smith admitted that charges had been made on his character as early as 1827. “I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel,” he recalled, “before it was reported that I had seven wives.”39 His romantic interest in Eliza Winters in Harmony has already been noted.40 A late reminiscence from Chenango County claims that Smith was an early advocate of polygamy and that a Mrs. Davenport of Doraville, Chenango County, said “she repeatedly heard her grandmother tell of Joe Smith coming into her home one day, long after she was married and saying that it had been revealed to him that she was to be his ‘spiritual wife.’” The woman, according to the story, ejected him from the house with her broom.41 In light of Smith’s later, well documented polygamous activities, the early rumors cannot be dismissed too quickly even though no extant evidence provides further details about these accusations.
According to Benton, Cowdery next testified that Smith “found with the plates, from which he translated his book, two transparent stones, resembling glass, set in silver bows. That by looking through these, he was able to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates.” Benton observed that “it was shown that the Book of Mormon was brought to light by the same magic power by which [Smith] pretended to tell fortunes, discover hidden treasures, &c.” Benton mentioned Newel Knight’s testimony, that “he positively had a devil cast out of himself by the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, jr., and that he saw the devil after it was out, but could not tell how it looked!”
Two days later, Smith was brought before Colesville justice Joel K. Noble, who would remember that “Jo. plead in bar statue of limitations.”42 The law limited prosecution of misdemeanors to three years from the time of the infraction, and it had been four years since Smith’s first trial. Yet, as Wesley Walters has suggested, “the prosecution may have felt it still had a case since part of that time Joseph had been living in Harmony, Pa., and the law did not reckon the time spent outside the state as a part of the three year limitation.”43 However, Smith’s defense proved successful. After a trial that lasted all day and into the night, the twenty-four-year-old seer was acquitted. The prosecution must have found it difficult to prove that Smith had lived outside of the state, while Smith could have easily demonstrated from his many trips and several residences with the Whitmers that he had met the requirements of the law by being “usually [a] resident” of New York for the last four years. Indeed, following the March 1826 trial, Smith had remained a resident of New York for twenty-one months before moving to Harmony in December 1827, and beginning in June 1829, he was either in Fayette, Palmyra, or Colesville and seldom in Pennsylvania.
While the defense attorneys’ legal strategy saved Smith from prosecution, it did nothing to improve his public image. The people of South Bainbridge undoubtedly concluded that he was guilty and had escaped on a technicality. “This trial led to an investigation of his character and conduct,” Benton said, “which clearly evinced to the unprejudiced, whence the spirit came which dictated his inspirations.”44
Smith reports that during the trial, the prosecution attempted to bring in evidence from another jurisdiction. “Several attempts were now made to prove something against me,” he said, “and even circumstances which were alleged to have taken place in Broome County were brought forward.” It was likely an attempt to counter the statute of limitations with evidence of treasure seeking after the March 1826 trial. This activity had occurred in the Colesville area during the time Smith lived with Joseph Knight from November 1826 to January 1827. But such evidence was inadmissible and was blocked by Smith’s counsel.
Legally frustrated, Smith’s opponents decided to pursue their case in a Broome County court. Smith said, “My persecutors managed to detain the court, until they had succeeded in obtaining a warrant from Broome Co[unty], and which warrant they served upon me, at the very moment that I was acquitted by this court.”45
The identity of the arresting officer is unknown, but Smith remembered that he was less sympathetic than Hatch. Smith said the second constable began immediately to abuse and insult him and refused to provide him nourishment before being escorted to Colesville. However, Smith may push too hard when he complains about being lodged at a Colesville tavern and not allowed to spend the night in his own bed at home: “We were at this time not far distant from my own house. I wished to be allowed the privilege of spending the night with my wife at home, offering any wished for security, for my appearance, but this was denied.”46 If the constable had allowed Smith to travel sixteen miles alone into Pennsylvania, he would have been derelict in his duty no matter what security Smith may have offered for his appearance. According to Smith’s attorney John Reed, Emma was already in Colesville so there was no need to travel to Harmony.47
Upon arriving at the tavern, Smith recalled, the constable “gathered in a number of men, who used every means to abuse, ridicule and insult me. They spit upon me, pointed their fingers at me, saying prophesy, prophesy, and thus did they imitate those who crucified the Savior of mankind, not knowing what they did.”48 Smith complained that his only nourishment was some bread and water and that he spent the night lying between the officer and a wall: “And in this very disagreeable manner did we pass the night.”49
On the morning of 2 July, Joseph was brought before Justice Joel K. Noble. Recalling the event in 1842, Noble said: “Jo was no sooner set on terra firma [in South Bainbridge] than [he was] arrested again [and] brought before me in an adjoining County.”50 Although Noble does not mention other justices, Reed said that Smith was tried before a three-justice Court of Special Sessions. Perhaps Smith was brought before Noble for a pre-trial hearing, followed immediately by a formal trial before the three justices, one of whom may have been Noble. Unfortunately, the records for Broome County are not available to resolve this issue definitively. Noble remembered that the “trial protracted 23 hours” and that “the prosecution was conducted by a gentleman well skilled in [the] science of law.”51 This was William Seymour,52 who Reed said was the “ablest lawyer” in the country.53
Smith was defended again by Davidson and Reed. Immediately following the first trial, as Reed recalled in 1861, “the Mormons insisted hard that myself and my colleague should go down and try our luck again [and] clear him if possible.”54 Before a largely Mormon audience in Nauvoo in 1844, Reed said: “I made every reasonable excuse I could, as I was nearly worn down through fatigue and want of sleep; as I had been engaged in law suits for two days, and nearly the whole of two nights. But I saw the persecution was great against him; and … while Mr. [Joseph] Knight was pleading with me to go, a peculiar impression or thought struck my mind, that I must go and defend him, for he was the Lord’s anointed.”55 Knight said that he “hired both these lawyers and took them down [to my] home with me that night.”56
Upon arriving at Knight’s home in Colesville, Reed said, Emma Smith and other Mormon women came out to the wagon. Reed was moved by the sight of Emma weeping and was told that the women had assembled “for the purpose of praying for the deliverance of the prophet of the Lord.”57
At about 10:00 a.m., the trial commenced before about 400 people who had gathered to view the proceeding.58 Reed admitted that Davidson and he had “much doubt” about successfully defending Smith. “It seemed as if all hell had let loose for the purpose of destroying that innocent and boundless boy,” Reed told Brigham Young in 1861. “But I believe to this day that God was on his side to deliver him from them wicked sons of bitches, for that boy Joseph sat there apparently as unconcerned as if he was in his father’s house; and when a hard witness would come upon the stand, I would say to him that our case looked bad. [But] he said with a smile upon his countenance, I shall be cleared. Do your duty and fear not.”59
Reed said in 1844 that the prosecution “introduced twenty or thirty witnesses before dark, but proved nothing.”60 Elaborating in 1861, he said: “They all came forward knowing everything and upon cross examination they knew nothing.”61 Smith provided no details of the prosecution’s case but said that “many witnesses were again called forward and examined; some of whom swore to the most palpable falsehoods.”62 Noble had a different take on the trial: “Proof [was] manifested by I think 43 witnesses. Proof [that] Jo. [was] a vagrant idler, lazy ([but] not [a] drunkard) but now and then drunk. [Also a] liar [and] deceiver. Jo. [was] a nuisance to good society … [and] any thing but a good man.”63
The prosecution’s case dwelt on Smith’s use of the seer stone and, combined with character witnesses, intended to demonstrate that Smith was a con man. Smith admitted that, among other things, the prosecution “brought up the story of my having been a money digger, and in this manner proceeded, in hopes to influence the court and the people against me.”64 However, in recounting even this much, Smith failed to mention that he had played a central role in the money-digging operations.
Josiah Stowell and perhaps Jonathan Thompson testified at this trial, both of whom had testified previously in 1826 about Smith’s treasure operations in Windsor, Broome County, New York.65 Their testimony was perhaps intended to establish Smith’s activities within the court’s jurisdiction, although Smith could still plead the statute of limitations. However, as previously suggested, the prosecution may have introduced testimony regarding Smith’s treasure-seeing activities in Colesville after the March 1826 trial. Noble said he had the records of the trial in his possession66 when he wrote a summary of the proceedings, including the following testimony: “Jo. and others were digging for a chest of money in [the] night. [But they] could not obtain it. They procured one thing and another, together with [a] black bitch. The bitch was offered [as] a sacrifice [and its] [blo]od sprinkled. Prayer [was] made at the time ([but] no money obtained).”67 The judge probably described the same incident related by Emily Colburn Austin, most likely from the time Smith worked for Joseph Knight, November 1826 to January 1827.68
Noble remembered that “Jo. was asked by [one] witness if he could see or tell more than others. Jo. said he could not and says any thing for a living. I now and then get a shilling.”69 This may have been the testimony of Addison Austin, similar to what Benton reported from Austin in South Bainbridge
Apparently, Newel Knight repeated what he had said in South Bainbridge regarding his exorcism. According to Smith’s history, later incorporated into Knight’s own autobiography,70 Newel’s interrogation by the prosecuting attorney, William Seymour, included the following question: “Did the prisoner, Joseph Smith, Jr. cast the devil out of you?” Newel responded: “No Sir it was done by the power of God, and Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God on the occasion; He commanded him to come out of me in the name of Jesus Christ.” When Newel indicated that he had seen the devil, Seymour asked: “Pray, what did he look like?” At this point, one of Smith’s lawyers informed Knight that he need not answer the question. Newel said he would gladly answer if Seymour would answer a question for him, which was: “Do you, Mr. Seymour, understand the things of the Spirit?” “No,” Seymour answered, “I do not pretend to such big things.” “Well then,” Knight said, “it would be of no use to tell you what the devil looked like, for it was a spiritual sight, and spiritually discerned; and of course you would not understand it, were I to tell you of it.” According to Smith’s history, Seymour “dropped his head, whilst the loud laugh of the audience proclaimed his discomfiture.”71
According to a late reminiscence, Smith took the stand in his own defense and was asked by the prosecution: “What was the first miracle Jesus Christ wrought here on the earth?” Smith responded: “He created the worlds and what He had done before that, he (Joseph) had not yet learned.”72 Interestingly, as previously noted, Smith had only recently dictated, possibly in Colesville, the “Visions of Moses” (Moses 1), which describe a preexistent Jesus creating worlds without number.
Before the prosecution rested, Smith remembered, “Mr Seymour … addressed the court, and in a long and violent harangue endeavored to blacken my character and bring me in guilty of the charges which had been brought against me.”73 A facet of the prosecution’s case may have included Smith’s reputation and character since Smith’s seeric claims rested primarily on his own word.
Seymour was followed by Reed and Davidson, who according to Smith “took up the different arguments which had been brought by the lawyers for the prosecution and having showed their utter futility and misapplication; then proceeded to scrutinize the evidence which had been adduced, and … were upon this occasion able to put to silence their opponents, and convince the court that I was innocent.”74 Recalling his closing argument in 1861, Reed said:
It fell to my lot to make the last plea to the court. … I had not stood long … before my tongue was loosed from the roof of my mouth and it did seem to me and has ever since that time [that I was] inspired by that God that stood by that boundless boy to clear and deliver him from the hand of the devil. I spoke one hour and a half and with my weak abilities I melted part of that assembly into tears and two of the justices could not help their tears from falling down their cheek; and one of the justices his heart was hard as a millstone but he looked very sober.75
Reed remembered in 1844 that the examination of witnesses concluded about 2:00 a.m., that the closing arguments lasted about two hours, and that the justices deliberated for a half hour. When the court reconvened, one of the justices delivered their joint decision, saying: “Mr. Smith, we have had your case under consideration, examined the testimony and find nothing to condemn you, and therefore you are discharged.” Nevertheless, Reed recalled, “they then proceeded to reprimand him severely; not because anything derogatory to his character in any shape had been proven against him by the host of witnesses that had testified during the trial, but merely to please those fiends in human shape, who were engaged in the unhallowed persecution of an innocent man, sheerly on account of his religious opinions.”76 The justices may have been reluctant to convict Smith since his recent activities were, for the most part, performed outside their jurisdiction in Pennsylvania and in a religious context.
Reed remembered that the trial concluded at the “brake of day,”77 which is confirmed by Noble’s memory that it lasted twenty-three hours.78 Smith’s enemies were waiting to attack him, but with the help of friends, he was able to escape. He remembered that the arresting constable assisted him through a “private way.”79 Reed said, “I was down stairs to amuse the people whilst my colleague [Davidson] and the Mormons got Joseph out of the house.”80 Smith said after his escape from the courthouse, he made his way to the home of Elizabeth (Hale) Wasson, Emma’s oldest sister, where he rejoined his anxious wife.81 The next day, 4 July, Joseph and Emma returned to Harmony.
A “few days” after returning home, Smith and Cowdery attempted to visit Colesville “intending to confirm those who had been baptized,” but a mob forced them to flee. “We considered it wisdom to leave for home, which we did, without even waiting for any refreshment.” Smith continued: “Our enemies pursued us, and it was oftentimes as much as we could do to elude them; however we managed to get home, after having traveled all night, except a short time, during which we were forced to rest ourselves under a large tree by the way side, sleeping and watching alternately.”82
Richard Bushman suggests that Smith and Cowdery received the Melchizedek priesthood from the ancient apostles Peter, James, and John at this time.83 This departs from the traditional view, which assumes that the visitation occurred sometime after 15 May 1829 when John the Baptist is said to have appeared and before the organization of the church on 6 April 1830.84 The confusion arises because Smith’s history does not describe this visitation but merely reports that John the Baptist said “he acted under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the priesthood of Melchizedek, which priesthood he said should in due time be conferred on us.”85 Most attempts to establish an earlier dating derive from Smith’s retro-fitted definitions of authority and priesthood, a lack of familiarity with the changes and key developments in those concepts over time, and an assumption that the event pre-dates the organization of the church because on that day, according to Smith’s history, Smith and Cowdery ordained each other elders.86 In fact, the association of the office of elder with a higher order known as the Melchizedek priesthood was a later development. The “high priesthood” (“order of Melchizedek”) was introduced in June 1831, and it was not until September 1832 that the office of elder was linked to that priesthood.87 Rather, the restoration of the eldership was associated with the “word of the Lord” received in the chamber of Peter Whitmer Sr.’s house in Fayette, New York, in June 1829.
On the other hand, there is good reason to date the origin of the angelic visitation to early July 1830, although the identities of the three angels and the purpose of their appearance would remain unclear until 1835. In 1842, Smith said the visitation of Peter, James, and John took place “in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna River.”88 This creates a problem for traditionalists since there is no record of Smith and Cowdery having traveled between Colesville and Harmony until June-July 1830.89 The late reminiscence of Addison Everett, who said he overheard a conversation between Joseph and Hyrum in Nauvoo in 1844, adds support to an early July 1830 date for this visitation. Although Everett’s account contains some inaccuracies,90 the historical setting he describes is consistent with Smith’s 1842 statement. In Everett’s version, Smith and Cowdery narrowly escape being mobbed when attorney Reed opens a window in the back of the courthouse and directs them to flee into the woods. Writing to Oliver Huntington in 1881, Everett said:
They traveled all night in a dense forest—some of the time [in] deep mud and water, and in the after-part of the night Oliver became exhausted, and he (Joseph) had to almost carry him. Just at the break of day Oliver gave out and exclaimed “[Ho]w long O! Lord? How long brother Joseph have we got to endure this thing? “There,” said brother Joseph, “at that very time, Peter, James and John came to us and ordained us to the Apostleship.”91
In an 1882 letter to Joseph F. Smith, Everett quoted Smith as having said:
Just this moment Peter, James and John came to us and ordained us to the holy apostleship and gave unto us the keys of the dispensation of the fullness of times and we had some 16 or 17 miles to go to reach our place of residence and Brother Oliver could travel as well as I could after the Endowment [of the apostleship]. Now as to time and place. I heard the name of the banks of the Susquehanna river spoken of but where it was placed I cannot tell. … As to time I cannot be very exact.92
Everett’s memory that Smith associated the visitation of Peter, James, and John with the restoration of the apostleship rather than with the office of elder is supported by other sources. Indeed, the first mention of the three apostles ordaining Smith and Cowdery—an 1835 addition Smith made to a revelation originally recorded on 4 September 1830—also associates this visitation with the apostleship. In this expansion, Jesus declares that when he returns he will drink of the “fruit of the vine with … John the son of Zacharias … Which John I have sent to you, my servants, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto the first priesthood. … And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles” (D&C 27:5, 8, 12-13).
Prior to Smith’s 1835 expansion, the identity of the angels and purpose of their appearance had eluded Smith and Cowdery, which is why the earliest members, even those close to Smith, were unaware that these angelic ordinations had occurred. When asked by Orson Pratt in 1878, “Can you tell the date of the bestowal of the Apostleship upon Joseph, by Peter, James and John?” David Whitmer said: “I do not know, Joseph never told me. I can only tell you what I know, for I will not testify to anything I do not know.”93 On 12 February 1886, Edward Stevenson wrote to Apostle Franklin D. Richards: “I enquired of David [Whitmer] and … John [Whitmer] … who say that they do not have any knowledge of, neither do the records show, concerning Peter, James, and John’s coming to the prophet Joseph.”94 William E. McLellin, who joined the church in 1831, wrote: “I never heard of John the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver. I heard not of James, Peter, and John doing so.”95 Although McLellin said he heard Smith tell the story of the church’s founding “probably more than twenty times, I never heard of … John, or Peter, James and John.”96
It is unknown exactly when Smith introduced this interpretation of his and Cowdery’s vision, but it probably followed the ordination of the twelve apostles in mid-February 1835 as justification for the new office. The first public announcement of the angelic ordination occurred shortly after Smith’s return to Kirtland, Ohio, following the failure of the armed march of Zion’s Camp to Missouri. Amid challenges to Smith’s authority at the time, Cowdery wrote to the Missouri church on 7 September 1834 that an angel had bestowed upon him and Smith the authority to baptize.97 Cowdery failed to mention a second ordination, although this would have enhanced his attempt to bring the Missouri church into line. In early February 1835, Smith announced that he had had a vision that showed the eternal reward for Zion’s Camp members who had died during the expedition. The vision commissioned Smith to organize two final governing bodies in the church hierarchy: the twelve apostles and the Seventy.98 By 14 February, twelve men had been appointed and would soon be ordained apostles by the three Book of Mormon witnesses. Two weeks later, members of the Seventy would be chosen and ordained.
The event that paved the way for Smith’s hierarchical innovations was Cowdery’s ordination as co-president the previous December.99 In June 1829, Cowdery had resisted Smith’s attempt to organize twelve apostles. Now that his special status was recognized and his position in the hierarchy secured, Cowdery aided Smith in institutionalizing the apostleship. Addressing the newly ordained apostles on 21 February, Cowdery said: “You have been ordained to this holy priesthood, you have received it from those who have the power and authority from an angel.”100 The context of the statement implies that the authority to “preach the gospel to every nation” came from the angel who appeared to the three witnesses in late June 1829, commanding them to bear witness to the world concerning the truth of the Book of Mormon. Thus, it would appear that as of 21 February 1835, neither Smith nor Cowdery had yet connected their July 1830 experience with an ordination to the apostleship.
While Smith’s expansion of Doctrine and Covenants 27, which is where the information about angelic ordinations would be added, pre-dates publication of the Doctrine and Covenants in September 1835 and probably occurred prior to Smith’s trip to the church in Michigan in early August,101 there is evidence that it pre-dates his acquisition of Egyptian papyri in early July 1835, which he said contained the writings of the ancient patriarchs Abraham and Joseph.102 When Cowdery copied the church’s patriarchal blessings into a record book in September and October 1835, he made two references to angelic ordinations, while at the same time alluding to Smith’s translation of the papyri. In the introduction to the blessings Joseph Smith gave in December 1833, Cowdery wrote that he and Smith were “ordained by the angel John, unto the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood.” Providing more detail, he said: “We repaired to the woods, even as our father Joseph said we should, that is to the bush, and called upon the name of the Lord, and he answered us out of the heavens, and while we were in the heavenly vision the angel came down and bestowed upon us this priesthood.” “After this,” he continued, “we received the high and holy priesthood.”103 Mention of the high priesthood could be mistaken as a reference to the June 1831 conference when the high priesthood was first mentioned, but in copying the blessing Smith gave to Cowdery in December 1833, Cowdery added words that alluded to the three ancient apostles:
These blessings shall come upon him [Oliver] according to the blessings of the prophecy of Joseph in ancient days, which he said should come upon the seer of the last days and the scribe that should sit with him, and that should be ordained with him, by the hands of the angel in the bush, unto the lesser priesthood, and after receive the holy priesthood under the hand of those who had been held in reserve for a long season, even those who received it under the hand of the Messiah, while he should dwell in the flesh upon the earth, and should receive the blessings with him, even the seer of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saith he, even Joseph of old.104
Cowdery’s references to “father Joseph” and the “prophecy of Joseph” undoubtedly refer to the Egyptian papyri. While the mention of a second ordination is elliptical, Cowdery seems to connect the angelic bestowal of authority with the high priesthood (cf. Abr. 1:2) and, in doing so, not only attempts to legitimize the apostolic office introduced in February 1835 but also justify the reception of high priesthood in June 1831.
Prior to Smith’s 1835 expansion of section 27, it had not yet occurred to Cowdery or Smith that the angels were Peter, James, and John or that the event constituted a restoration of priesthood authority. The introduction of these new elements clouded the story and made it difficult to reconstruct the original thread of the experience. Nevertheless, given the already existing folklore concerning the three Nephite disciples—the explanation for how David Whitmer’s field was mysteriously plowed, for instance—it is probable that Cowdery originally interpreted the vision in that light. Indeed, Smith and Cowdery seem to have understood the angelic visitation in terms of a blessing of comfort and strength that helped them endure persecution. One can imagine, from the existing evidence, that Cowdery’s vision, which he presumably experienced alone, was induced by the life-threatening stress, exhaustion, food and sleep deprivation, and dehydration.105 While these conditions were conducive to hallucination, they were not imperative since Cowdery had already demonstrated a propensity for visions. Regardless, Smith simply inserted himself into the experience as one who saw the personages along with Cowdery and then used it to justify the 1835 ordination of apostles. Apparently no one noticed that the July 1830 vision post-dated Smith’s initial attempt to establish a quorum of twelve apostles by a year (D&C 18).
Almost immediately after the unsuccessful attempt to visit Colesville, Smith and Cowdery tried again. A second time, their enemies drove them out of town. On the day of their arrival, Sally Knight received a dream that predicted Smith’s and Cowdery’s success in being able to visit the converts and confirm those who had been baptized. Even though her dream was inaccurate, it was interpreted as a sign that the two would eventually succeed.106
Shortly after returning to Harmony, Smith received three revelations, each one dated July 1830. In the first, God addresses Smith and alludes to the recent persecution: “I have lifted thee up out of thine afflictions, and have counseled thee, that thou hast been delivered from all thine enemies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan and from darkness. … Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many” (D&C 24:1, 8). Smith is told to sow his fields and secure them and then “go speedily unto the church which is in Colesville, Fayette, and Manchester” (v. 3). The struggle to balance worldly concerns with the demands of church administration is touched on. Reflecting Smith’s desire to become a full-time minister, the revelation instructs him thus: “Thou shalt devote all thy service in Zion; and in this thou shalt have strength. … And in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling” (vv. 7, 9). The revelation departs from the Book of Mormon notion of an unpaid ministry (e.g., Mosiah 18:24, 26) and commands Smith’s followers to support him financially, for which they will be blessed spiritually and temporally (D&C 24:3). If the church fails to follow this command, God “will send upon them a cursing instead of a blessing” (v. 4). In joining the ranks of the professional clergy, whom Smith had criticized, he begins to leave his idealism behind in exchange for an admission of the real world’s realities. Given the distances between the towns where congregations were beginning to form and the demands of charismatic leadership which involved constant maintenance and personal appearances, as well as a high expectation for charismatic performances, Smith naturally found that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to continue his pretense to be a farmer.
The revelation addresses Cowdery, as well, and reminds him that his calling is to be Smith’s mouthpiece: “He shall not suppose that he can say enough in my cause. … And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night” (D&C 24:10, 12). Cowdery is reprimanded because he expects God to punish his enemies upon request: “Require not miracles, except I shall command you. … And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall lay hands upon you by violence, ye shall command to be smitten in my name; and, behold, I will smite them according to your words, in mine own due time” (vv. 13, 16; emphasis added). The revelation directs Cowdery to follow the New Testament pattern of “casting off the dust of your feet against them as a testimony” (v. 15; cf. Matt. 10:14; Luke 10:11). Referring to Smith’s trials earlier that same month, Cowdery is told that “whosoever shall go to law with thee shall be cursed by the law” (v. 17). Following the New Testament pattern, Cowdery is to travel with neither “purse nor scrip … for the church shall give thee in the very hour what thou needest” (v. 18; cf. Matt. 10:9-10). Finally, the revelation closes by putting Cowdery’s mission into an eschatological perspective: “Thou art called to prune my vineyard with a mighty pruning, yea, even for the last time” (v. 19; cf. Jacob 5:62-77).
The second revelation concerns Smith’s duties until the church holds its second conference in Fayette, scheduled for 26 September: “Behold, I say unto you that you shall let your time be devoted to the studying of the scriptures, and to preaching, and to confirming the church at Colesville, and to performing your labors on the land, such as is required, until after you shall go to the west to hold the next conference; and then it shall be made known what you shall do” (D&C 26:1).107
The third revelation calls Smith’s wife, Emma, “an elect lady,” but counsels her to “murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen,” meaning the gold plates (D&C 25:3, 4). The “office of your calling,” she is told, is to be a “comfort unto … thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness” (v. 5). The revelation promises that she will be “ordained” by her husband to “expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit. For he shall lay hands upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost” (vv. 7-8). Emma had been baptized along with the Colesville members and, like them, had not yet been confirmed. She is told to be a scribe to her husband, “that I may send my servant, Oliver Cowdery, whithersoever I will,” and to “make a selection of sacred hymns” (vv. 6, 11). This final instruction will culminate in the 1835 publication of Emma’s A Collection of Sacred Hymns.
Shortly after receiving these revelations, Cowdery is sent to Fayette, while John Whitmer remains in Harmony to help Smith arrange and copy the revelations. Cowdery was not gone long before he sent Smith a letter complaining about an error in the Articles and Covenants. The passage in question was about church leaders not receiving individuals into the church by baptism until they “truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins” (D&C 20:37). “I command you in the name of God to erase those words,” Cowdery demanded, “that no priestcraft be amongst us.”108 He evidently believed that such a provision, like the Puritan test of faith, placed too much power in the hands of church elders.
Responding to Cowdery’s challenge, Smith wrote to ask him “by what authority he took upon him to command me to alter, or erase, to add or diminish to or from a revelation or commandment from Almighty God.”109 The exchange caused Smith more concern than he let on because he made an unscheduled visit to Fayette a few days later, probably in late July or early August, to discuss the matter with Cowdery. Upon his arrival, he discovered that many of the Whitmers shared Cowdery’s opinion. “It was not without both labor and perseverance that I could prevail with any of them to reason calmly on the subject,” Smith said. He eventually found a sympathizer in Christian Whitmer, who “at length got convinced that it was reasonable and according to scripture, and finally, with his assistance I succeeded in bringing not only the Whitmer family, but also Oliver Cowdery to acknowledge that they had been in error, and that the sentence in dispute was in accordance with the rest of the commandment.”110 Undoubtedly, Cowdery and the Whitmers became persuaded of the correctness of what became Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 because it was inspired by and harmonized with Moroni 6:1-4.
This exchange is important because it highlights the differences in philosophy between Smith and some of his early followers, particularly Cowdery and the Whitmers, regarding church government.111 However, there is reason to question Smith’s version of the dispute, particularly his assertion that the “word of God” is unalterable. There was previously no claim that the Articles and Covenants had come to Smith as a revelation. Indeed, it differs from Smith’s other works in that it contains no first person statement from God, although the verse in question does identify itself as a “commandment.”
In addition, Smith’s failed Canadian revelation and his subsequent confession that he had been deceived and that the source of the false revelation had been either Satan or himself opened the door to his followers to question the veracity of various revelations. Nor was this the first time that Cowdery had questioned Smith’s inspiration and wanted to edit his writing. It will be remembered that in response to the prophet’s June 1829 revelation to call twelve apostles (D&C 18), Cowdery issued his own competing revelation that borrowed from Smith’s work only those parts that suited him. When Smith subsequently produced his Articles and Covenants minus a provision for twelve apostles, it invited Cowdery to make further revisions.
Another issue is that Cowdery and the Whitmers failed to voice their complaint about the passage in question for more than a month. It is possible that as Smith and Whitmer were arranging the revelations for publication, they sent an emended version of the Articles and Covenants to Cowdery in Fayette that read differently than what had been ratified at the June 1830 conference. If so, the idea of adding to and deleting from the Articles and Covenants would have been suggested first by Smith, not Cowdery. Given these circumstances, the assertion that the “word of God” cannot be altered would have carried little weight with Cowdery and the Whitmers. This is why Smith finally resorted to reason to make his point.
During the last weeks of August, Smith was looking for an opportunity to visit the Colesville church and simultaneously trying to sever himself from his financial entanglement with his father-in-law. In an effort to refinance his mortgage, Smith had Isaac Hale sign the deed over to him on 25 August with John Whitmer as one of the witnesses. That same day, apparently using the land as collateral, Smith borrowed $190.95 from Harmony merchant George H. Noble. The next day, Noble & Company entered an “amicable” action before justice Jesse Lane against Smith for that amount and a lien was placed on Smith’s property. On 26 August, Hale acknowledged receipt of Smith’s final payment of $86.112
Smith disappointed his Colesville followers once again by missing another scheduled visit. In his letter dated 28 August, he and John Whitmer apologized, explaining that their mode of conveyance had not yet arrived from the “West.” Apparently, they were waiting for the arrival of David Whitmer and Hyrum Smith with a horse and wagon from Fayette.113
A significant portion of the letter deals with the recent opposition in Colesville. It begins by recognizing the plight of the believers: “Dearly beloved brethren we are not ignorant of your tribulations, owing that ye are placed among ravening wolves,” then moves quickly to divine retribution: “Were it not for the prayers of you few, the Almighty would have thundered down his wrath upon the inhabitants of that place, but be not faint, the day of your deliverance is not far distant, for the judgements of the Lord are already abroad in the earth and the cold hand of death will soon pass through your neighborhood and sweep away some of your most bitter enemies.” The balance of the letter makes clear that the destruction Smith expected was not intended only for Colesville but for the general population preceding Jesus’ second advent:
Behold the angel cries, thrust in your sickle for the harvest is fully ripe, and the earth will soon be reaped [Rev. 14:15], that is, the wicked must soon be destroyed from off the face of the earth, for the Lord hath spoken it. … For the day is fast hastening on when the restoration of all things [Acts 3:21] shall be fulfilled which all the holy prophets have prophesied of, even unto the gathering in of the house of Israel. Then shall come to pass that the lion shall lie down with the lamb, &c. [Isa. 11:6].114
Besides confirming the belief that the Millennium was near, the letter draws upon Bible passages and weaves them together in a manner not unlike the Book of Mormon and revelations that were being compiled for publication.
Impatient with waiting for Smith’s return to Colesville, Newel Knight and wife, Sally, visited him in Harmony. “I found him and his wife well and in good spirits,” Newel wrote. “It truly gave me joy to again behold his face.”115 During this visit, a meeting was held to confirm Sally and Emma. In preparation, Smith left to purchase some wine for the sacrament. “I had gone only a short distance,” he recalled, “when I was met by a heavenly messenger, and received the following revelation.” The revelation, dated 4 September 1830,116 declares: “It mattereth not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory; … Wherefore a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase wine, neither strong drink of your enemies: Wherefore you shall partake of none, except it is made new among you” (Book of Commandments 28:2, 4-5; cf. D&C 27:2-4).
The revelation suggests that the persecution in Harmony had reached a level similar to what was occurring in Colesville, where wine could not even be purchased without fear of being poisoned. Smith recalled in his history a renewed “spirit of persecution” instigated by “a man of the Methodist persuasion,” probably Nathaniel Lewis, who eventually turned Isaac Hale against Smith—hence, the reason for the recent financial disentanglement from Hale. Although Hale believed Smith was a deceiver, he had always opposed vigilantism, and it was largely through his influence that Smith had been able to live in Harmony unmolested. However, in the summer of 1830, this changed, for according to Smith, a Methodist gentleman “went to my father-in-law, and told him falsehoods concerning me, of the most shameful nature, which turned the old gentleman and his family so much against us, that they would no longer promise us protection, nor believe our doctrines.”117 Smith did not elaborate on these “shameful” lies, but one has to think of the alleged extra-marital activities that Lewis’s son, Levi, would later testify of.118
In compliance with the revelation, the sacrament was observed using “wine of our own make.” Sally and Emma were confirmed, probably by Joseph (cf. D&C 25:8), although John Whitmer, an elder, was also present. “The Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon us, we praised the Lord God, and rejoiced exceedingly,” Smith recalled.119
Following the departure of the Knights sometime between 5 and 8 September, Hyrum and David Whitmer arrived in Pennsylvania.120 Soon the three elders and priest were on their way together to Colesville. Prior to leaving Harmony, Smith said they had asked God to “blind the eyes of our enemies, so that they would not know us, and that we might on this occasion return unmolested.” Smith believed that this prayer was fulfilled when, a short distance from the Knight farm, he and the others “encountered a large company at work upon the public road, among whom were several of our most bitter enemies.” Although they scrutinized the four strangers, they did not recognize Smith. Since only Smith was familiar to the inhabitants of Colesville, it was probably advantageous to be traveling in the company of men from Manchester and Fayette.
Smith said that on the evening of his arrival, they held a “happy meeting, having much reason to rejoice in the God of our salvation and sing Hosannas to his holy name.”121 At this meeting, the members of the Colesville church were finally confirmed. Although Newel Knight mistakenly followed the chronology in Smith’s published history and dated the confirmations to the “latter end of August,” they apparently occurred sometime between 5 and 10 September.122 Smith and the other visitors departed from Colesville the “next morning” and returned to Harmony, and soon after that, David and Hyrum left for Fayette.123
Evidently having learned of Smith’s persecutions from Hyrum and David, Peter Whitmer Sr. sent a letter to Smith inviting him to return and live again with him in Fayette.124 According to Smith’s history, “some few days” after the Colesville confirmations, Newel Knight came with his wagon to help Joseph and Emma move. The exact time of departure is unknown, but Smith was in Fayette before the 26 September 1830 conference.125 Upon arriving at the Whitmers’ home, Smith discovered that he had a new rival to his exclusive position as “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” of the church. The contender was Hiram Page, a teacher in the church, who was receiving revelations through a small black stone “concerning the upbuilding of Zion, the order of the Church &c &c.”126 Newel Knight said that Page had “quite a roll of papers full of these revelations.”127
Smith was vulnerable to competition for three reasons. First, he had relied too much on his gift of working the seer stone as a means of asserting his superiority over Cowdery (D&C 21).128 Second, the Canadian affair had left Cowdery, Page, and the Whitmers unsure of Smith’s infallibility.129 Third, he had not supplied quickly enough the kinds of revelations his followers required—in particular, the location of Zion and how to begin building God’s kingdom in preparation for Jesus’ second coming. Prior to the second church conference, Smith had been preoccupied with ecclesiastical matters, with securing his leading role and organizing the church rather than with theological issues. The Page affair made it clear that if Smith were to lead, he would have to elucidate some of God’s mysteries.
In Smith’s opinion, Page’s revelations were “entirely at variance with the order of God’s house, as laid down in the New Testament, as well as in our late revelations.”130 The founder was especially troubled that the teacher had gained influence over “many in the church,” including Cowdery and the Whitmers.131 “Here was a chance for Satan to work among the little flock,” Newel Knight observed, “and he sought by this means to accomplish what persecution failed to do.” Knight remembered that Smith was “in great distress of mind … and scarcely knew how to meet this new exigency. That night I occupied the same room that he did and the greater part of the night was spent in prayer and supplication.”132
Finally, Smith declared that he had received a revelation exposing Page’s revelations as satanic. Smith’s preeminence as church leader was also reiterated. As in the Book of Mormon (2 Ne. 3:14-18), the revelation likened Smith’s and Cowdery’s respective roles to those of Moses and Aaron. Addressing Cowdery, God declares in this revelation: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses. And thou shalt be obedient unto the things which I shall give unto him, even as Aaron, to declare faithfully the commandments and the revelations, with power and authority unto the church” (D&C 28:2-3).
Cowdery is given permission to speak to the church by inspiration, even “by the way of commandment,” but forbidden to write by the same authority (28:4-5). “Thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church,” God warns. “For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint another in his stead” (vv. 6-7). The revelation addresses the specific mysteries Smith’s followers yearned to learn about. Where Page’s revelations evidently had named the location of the New Jerusalem, perhaps somewhere near Fayette, Smith’s revelation declared: “It is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites” (v. 9). In other words, it would be somewhere in western Missouri near Indian territory. Thus, Cowdery is commanded to “go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel” (v. 8). This call undoubtedly gave Cowdery a sense of importance, but it also served to get him out of Fayette. No doubt Smith was unhappy with the state of affairs and saw Cowdery as a source of the problems. If he sent his colleague to a remote corner of the country, this would eliminate Cowdery’s ability to challenge Smith’s authority.
Cowdery is also instructed to “take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him” (28:11). Emer Harris, Martin’s brother, said that as a result of Smith’s revelation, Page’s stone was ground to powder.133
Another revelation “given in the presence of six elders”134 on the day of the second church conference forgives the elders of their transgressions but warns them to “sin no more, lest perils shall come upon you” (D&C 29:3), echoing Paul’s warning that “in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. 3:1). Like Smith’s letter to his Colesville followers the previous month, the revelation dwells on the future destruction and calls on the elders to gather the “elect … unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked” (D&C 29:7-8). Then follows a horrifying description of the tribulation and desolation, drawing on images from the Bible and Book of Mormon: “The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall be turned into blood” (v. 14; cf. Joel 2:31); “there shall be a great hailstorm … to destroy the crops” (v. 16; Rev. 8:7; 16:21); “flies … shall eat … [the] flesh [of the wicked], … their flesh shall fall from off their bones, and their eyes from their sockets; … the beasts of the forest and the fowls of the air shall devour them up” (vv. 18-20; cf. Rev. 19:17-18, 21; Isa. 18:6; Ezek. 39:17-20); and “the great and abominable church … shall be cast down by devouring fire” (v. 21; cf. 1 Ne. 22:13-14).
Jesus promises that the time is near when “I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand” (29:11). After the Millennium, “the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth” (v. 23; cf. Rev. 21:1). At the sound of archangel Michael’s trumpet “shall all the dead awake” (v. 26; cf. 1 Thess. 4:16), then will come the Judgement when the wicked will be sent into “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (v. 28). Perhaps for the benefit of the Knight family and other Universalist-leaning individuals who attended the conference, the revelation argues: “I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that [the wicked] should return, for where I am they cannot come” (v. 29).
The last part of the revelation touches on some of the themes in Smith’s revision of Genesis—the two creations, spiritual and physical (29:30-32; cf. Moses 1-2); Satan’s rebellion and banishment from heaven (vv. 36-38; cf. Moses 4:1-4; Rev. 12:3-9); Adam’s transgression and subsequent exile from Eden (vv. 40-41; Moses 4:5-31); and the angels God sent to Adam and his children (v. 42; Moses 5:6, 58). However, the revelation couches this information in an anti-Universalist statement emphasizing obedience to God’s commandments, the free agency of man, the existence of hell, and the second death.
With the church assembled for conference, it was undoubtedly Smith who brought up Page’s revelations, as Smith was “appointed leader of the Conference by vote.”135 Despite the revelation condemning Page’s writings, Smith said it was only “after considerable discussion, reasoning and investigation” that Page and the “whole church … renounced the said stone, and all things connected therewith, much to our mutual satisfaction and happiness.”136 In accordance with the revelation condemning Page, Smith “was appointed by the voice of the conference to receive and write revelations and commandments for this church.”137
Smith takes the opportunity to read Isaiah 5, a song about God’s destruction of his vineyard (vv. 1-7) and God’s reproaches for the wicked, including all who “draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope” (v. 18)—the possible source of Nephi’s allusion to a Masonic “Cable-Tow” initiation.138 Isaiah 5 closes with a prediction for Israel’s restoration: “And [God] will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly” (v. 26; cf. 2 Ne. 29:1-2). Thus, the theme of Isaiah 5 correlated well with Smith’s revelation calling for the elect to gather to one place as protection against the burning of the wicked (D&C 29:7-9) and with the anti-Masonic theme expressed in Smith’s Bible revision (Moses 5:29-31).
According to the minutes of the meeting, Smith concluded his scriptural reading with a prayer, after which Cowdery read the Articles and Covenants, followed by “remarks by brother Joseph Smith jr.”139 After observing the sacrament, Cowdery ordained Newel Knight to the office of priest, making him the first priesthood holder in the Colesville branch. In the absence of an elder, Newel could baptize, administer the sacrament, and take the lead of meetings.140
During the conference, Smith received several more revelations, the first chastising David Whitmer for his part in the Page affair: “You have not given heed unto my Spirit, and to those who were set over you, but have been persuaded by those whom I have not commanded” (D&C 30:2). Whitmer is directed to remain in Fayette to “attend to the ministry in the church, and before the world, and in the regions round about” (v. 4). Another revelation calls Peter Whitmer Jr. to accompany Cowdery to the Lamanites (v. 5), and a third instructs John Whitmer to “proclaim my gospel, as with the voice of a trump,” especially to Philip Burroughs in neighboring Seneca Falls. Burroughs was a well-to-do farmer who may have joined the church and fell away (vv. 9-10).141 A final revelation calls Thomas B. Marsh to be “a physician unto the church” and to preach and “reap in the field which is white already to be burned” (D&C 31:4, 10).
Cowdery prayed, followed by spontaneous and simultaneous prayers from the congregation. Next, the seven elders—one after another—exhorted the congregation. This was followed by singing. A special prayer was offered “in behalf of Br. Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer jr. who were previously appointed to go to the Lamanites.”142 In Cowdery’s absence, David Whitmer was “to keep the church records until the next conference,” scheduled for 1 January 1831 (eventually held on 2 January). The closing prayer was given by Cowdery, and the conference was adjourned.
According to Smith’s history, several baptisms were performed and “many” were confirmed during the conference.143 The minutes indicates that as many as thirty-five had joined since the 9 June conference, bringing the total church membership to sixty-two.144 Recalling the three days of meetings, Smith said: “We had much of the power of God manifested amongst us; the Holy Ghost came upon us, and filled us with joy unspeakable; and peace, and faith, and hope, and charity abounded in our midst. … The utmost harmony prevailed and all things were settled satisfactory to all present, and a desire was manifested by all the saints to go forward and labor with all their powers to spread the great and glorious principles of truth which had been revealed by our heavenly father.”145
Sometime in early October, Joseph and Emma Smith paid a visit to the church in Manchester, during which time Smith received a revelation commanding his parents to move to Fayette; Hyrum was told to move to Colesville. As Lucy Smith remembered: “Hyrum had settled up his business, for the purpose of being at liberty to do whatever the Lord required of him: and he requested Joseph to ask the Lord for a revelation concerning the matter. The answer given was, that he should take … his family … and go straightway to Colesville, for his enemies were combining in secret chambers to take away his life.”146 Lucy said Hyrum left Manchester the next day before 10 a.m.147
Rather than being motivated by a desire to become a minister of the gospel, Hyrum’s sudden departure may have been due to his impending arrest for an unpaid debt. On 14 August 1830, Justice Nathan Pierce issued an execution order against Hyrum in the case involving Levi Daggett of Palmyra.148 Pierce’s execution was returned on 13 September, Constable Harrington having collected $12.81, presumably, but not necessarily, from Hyrum. On 27 September, Pierce reissued his execution against Hyrum for the remainder of the debt, and Harrington reported on 26 October that “no property nor body [were] to be found.”149 The timing and speed of Hyrum’s departure were interpreted by his enemies, whether or not it was intentional on Hyrum’s part, as an unwillingness to pay his debts.
Lucy’s memory that the revelation mentioned Hyrum’s enemies “combining in secret chambers” hints that Joseph thought Hyrum’s persecutions were part of a Masonic conspiracy or at least instigated by Hyrum’s former Masonic brethren.150 Records of Palmyra’s Mount Moriah Lodge of Freemasons for 1827 indicate that Daggett was a member.151
Despite Hyrum’s financial difficulties, Newel Knight welcomed the prophet’s brother and family into his home. Soon the two priests were preaching and holding meetings in Colesville, South Bainbridge, and other villages in the area. “Many raged and persecuted us, doing all in their power to stop the progress of the work,” Knight recalled. “But we moved steadily ahead, putting our trust in the Lord God of heaven.”152
The ongoing persecution hindered the progress of the new church, but it also shaped the character and identity of the earliest converts. From a sociological perspective, persecution fosters “group cohesion.”153 It promotes an us-versus-them mentality as members set aside individual differences and unite against a common enemy. Persecution can also elicit sympathy from moderate or tentative onlookers who would not otherwise find themselves attracted to the group. Despite the unpleasantness, opposition can have the direct opposite effect of what the persecutors intend. While Smith’s enemies believed they were combating religious fraud or ejecting an irritant from their midst, they were unwittingly aiding the prophet in his struggle to unite the church under his leadership.
1. Nathan Pierce, Docket Book (1827-30), 76b (entry of 28 June 1830), Manchester Township Office, Clifton Springs, NY (see Dan Vogel, ed., Early Mormon Documents, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996-2003], 3:492-94; hereafter EMD).
5. Walker, Statement, 28 Mar. 1885. In 1833, David Stafford accused Joseph Smith Sr. of having stolen sheep (see David Stafford, Statement, 8 Dec. 1833, in E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed [Painesville, OH: E. D. Howe, 1834], 249-50 [EMD 2:57]).
6. Old Testament Manuscript #1, 1-10, Community of Christ (formerly RLDS Church) Archives, Independence, Missouri, in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery. The heading of the first chapter reads: “A Revelation given to Joseph the Revelator June 1830.” An insertion into Smith’s history in William W. Phelps’s hand implies that Moses 1 was dictated in Colesville following Smith’s trials of 1-3 July, conflicting with the date on the manuscript (Joseph Smith, Manuscript History of the Church, 1839, 48, addenda A-1 [EMD 1:126, 144]). While some believe that Smith began his revision of the Bible in Fayette in early June, both Robert J. Matthews and D. Michael Quinn date it to about 23-30 June 1830 in Colesville (Robert J. Matthews, “A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible [Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1975], 26-27; D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994], 23). But from Smith’s activities in Fayette and Colesville, it seems that he was too busy and distracted to have been able to begin work on such a project.
9. Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting appears on the first ten pages of Old Testament Manuscript #1, which coincides with Moses 1:1-5:43a (Community of Christ Archives; see Matthews, “A Plainer Translation,” 64, 68). At this point in the manuscript (p. 10, ln. 6), John Whitmer’s handwriting begins under the date 21 October 1830. Because Cowdery’s portion is written without a change of pen, ink, or date, it was probably composed over a brief time, limited to June 1830.
10. Some interpreters have argued that this passage proves Smith believed the Father and Son were distinct persons and therefore was not a modalist (e.g., Barry R. Bickmore, “Does the Book of Mormon Teach Mainstream Trinitarianism or Modalism?” [Felton, CA: FAIR, 2001]; and Ari D. Bruening and David L. Paulsen, “The Development of the Mormon Understanding of God: Early Mormon Modalism and Other Myths,” FARMS Review of Books 13/2 : 118-20). However, by inserting the Son into Genesis, Smith was only making explicit what most Christians already assumed about the text, and therefore was not advancing any particular notion of the godhead. Indeed, a modalist would have no more difficulty accommodating this passage than would other trinitarians. The Book of Moses never states that the “Only Begotten” is a separate personage from the Father, but rather equates that title with the “word of my power” (Moses 1:32; 2:1, 5; cf. D&C 29:30-31). Notice also that the ambiguity in Genesis where the plural (“our image”) changes to singular (“his own image”) is retained. See Dan Vogel, “The Earliest Mormon Concept of God,” in Gary James Bergera, ed., Line upon Line: Essays on Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 17-33.
12. See Blake Ostler, “The Idea of Pre-Existence in the Development of Mormon Thought,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Spring 1982): 59-78; and “Earliest Pre-Existence Allusion?” (letter to the editor), Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Autumn 1982): 6. While Ostler suggests that Smith introduced the concept of human pre-existence in 1833, Hutchinson believes that Smith’s revision of Genesis “triggered an insight or speculation about human pre-mortal existence” (see Hutchinson, “A Mormon Midrash?” 37). I favor Ostler’s interpretation.
16. Quinn suggests that “Mahan” may be linked to one of Satan’s names, “Mahoun,” pronounced “Mahan,” in use during the early nineteenth century (D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, 2nd ed. rev. [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998], 208-209). This is certainly a possibility, but the full term that Smith uses, “Master Mahan,” is closer to the Masonic usage.
20. On Emily Colburn’s abduction, see J. Smith, Manuscript History, 42-43 (EMD 1:110-12); [Newel Knight], “Newel Knight Journal,” in Scraps of Biography. Tenth Book of the Faith-Promoting Series (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1883), 54-55 (EMD 4:51-52); Emily M. Austin, Mormonism; or, Life Among the Mormons (Madison, WI.: M. J. Cantwell, 1882), 30-52, 38-48 (EMD 4:169-74). See also Wesley P. Walters, “The Abduction of Emily (Coburn) Austin,” Gospel Anchor 10 (May 1984): 22-31.
22. Smith’s 1839 history possibly follows an earlier history published in April 1833 which reported that “on the 28th of June, thirteen were baptized in Colesville” ([William W. Phelps], “Rise and Progress of the Church of Christ,” The Evening and The Morning Star 1 (Apr. 1833):  [EMD 3:18]). Missing from the list is Sally Knight, the wife of Newel Knight, whose baptismal date is given by Oliver Cowdery as having been on 29 June 1830 (see Sally Knight Obituary, Messenger and Advocate 1 [Oct. 1834]: 12-13 [EMD 4:217-18]). Although there may have been two days of baptisms, Larry C. Porter suggests that Cowdery is incorrect and that Sally was baptized on 28 June 1830 with the others (Larry C. Porter, “A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816-1831,” Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1971, 201-2). While Smith’s history does not include Sally Knight, it implies that she was baptized before she sought confirmation in early September 1830 (J. Smith, Manuscript History, 51 [EMD 1:129]).
23. Joseph Knight Jr., “Joseph Knight’s incidents of history from 1827 to 1844, Aug. 16, 1862, compiled from loose sheets in J[oseph]. K[night].’s possession. T[homas]. B[ullock].,” 2, Joseph Knight Jr. Collection, LDS Church Archives (EMD 4:72-73).
25. Smith’s history claims he was arrested on Monday, 28 June 1830, but the Chenango County records indicate that the trial was held on Thursday, 1 July, making the arrest a Wednesday, 30 June, event (Joseph Chamberlin, Bill of Costs, 1830, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Chenango County Office Building, Norwich, NY [EMD 4:267-70]). There are two anomalous elements in Smith’s account to indicate that he compressed the chronology. As he relates it, the believers “had nearly all collected” on the evening of 28 June for the confirmation meeting when he was suddenly arrested. However, the believers have not dispersed from the previous meeting, according to Smith’s account, before they gather a second time. Also, when the constable arrests Smith, the mob that was said to be on Newel Knight’s property no longer surrounds the house but is at some distance waiting in ambush. One final discrepancy is that where Smith claims that he was arrested at Newel Knight’s house, Joseph Knight Sr. said “the officer came to my house near night and took him” (Joseph Knight Sr., “Manuscript of the History of Joseph Smith,” ca. 1835-47, 8, LDS Church Archives [EMD 4:22-23]).
27. Knight, “Manuscript of the History of Joseph Smith,” 8 (EMD 4:22). Smith’s history similarly states that it was “a young man named Benton” who “swore out the first warrant” against Smith (J. Smith, Manuscript History, 48 [EMD 1:125-26]).
33. “Some of the Remarks of John S. Reed, Esq., as Delivered Before the State Convention,” Times and Seasons 5 (1 June 1844): 550 (EMD 4:115), which states that the trial began at 10:00 a.m. and concluded at midnight. But in 1861, Reed told Brigham Young that the trial began at 9 a.m. and closed at 4:00 a.m. the next morning (Reed to Young, 6 Dec. 1861, 1 [EMD 4:122]).
43. Wesley P. Walters, “From Occult to Cult with Joseph Smith, Jr.” Journal of Pastoral Practice 1 (Summer 1977): 129, n. 25. On the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor crime, see Laws of the State of New York, Revised, 1813, 1:187, sec. VII.
57. Times and Seasons 5 (1 June 1844): 551 (EMD 4:116). Reed states that the women were at Hezekiah Peck’s home, but his memory is faulty here since Peck lived in South Bainbridge, not Colesville. Either Reed is incorrect about the location or, possibly, he saw Emma in South Bainbridge prior to the first trial.
65. In an 1843 letter to Smith, Stowell mentioned his “three days” of testimony, which apparently refers to both trials (see Campbell to Smith, 19 Dec. 1843 [EMD 4:84]). See chapter 6 for an account of Stowell’s and Thompson’s 1826 testimony.
66. In his 1842 letter to Turner, Noble said that the “affidavit is now in my possession” (Noble to Turner, 8 Mar. 1842, 4 [EMD 4:111]). Unfortunately, his docket book and other records have not been found.
72. Addison Everett to Oliver B. Huntington, 17 Feb. 1881, Oliver B. Huntington Journal, No. 15 (under 18 Feb. 1883), 45-46, Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT (EMD 1:200).
82. Ibid., 47 (EMD 1:124). Smith may have referred to this occasion in 1843 when he said: “When I first commenced this work and had got 2 or 3 individuals to believe I went about 30 miles with Oliver Cowdery, one horse between us, to see them. When we arrived, a mob of a hundred come upon us before we had time to eat, and chased us all night and we arrived again about 60 miles in all, and without food, a little after day light” (Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City; Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1987], 270-71).
83. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 163, 240-41, n. 55. D. Michael Quinn defends this interpretation in The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, 16-27.
89. Those who argue for the visitation of Peter, James, and John in the weeks following 15 May 1829 overlook Smith’s history which asserts that after their arrival in Fayette in June 1829, Smith and Cowdery had not yet “realized” the fulfillment of the angel’s promise to “have the Melchisidec Priesthood” bestowed upon them (Smith, Manuscript History, 26-27 [EMD 1:87-88]).
94. Original in LDS Church Archives, cited in Joseph Grant Stevenson, The Stevenson Family History: Consisting of Biographical Sketches of the Joseph Stevenson Family Which Came to America in 1828, Including Sketches of the Lives of Their Wives and Husbands, 2 vols. (Provo, UT: Joseph Grant Stevenson, 1955), 1:177-78 (EMD 5:161, n. 5).
96. True L[atter] D[ay] Saints’ Herald 17 (15 Sept. 1870): 556 (EMD 5:329, n. 9). See also William E. McLellin to Joseph Smith III, July 1872, Community of Christ Archives (EMD 5:329), where McLellin states: “But as to the story of John, the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver on the day they were baptized: I never heard of it in the church for years, altho I carefully noticed things that were said.”
99. The record of Cowdery’s ordination explains that it had been delayed “in consequence of his necessary attendance in Zion, to assist Wm. W. Phelps in conducting the printing business; but that this promise was made by the angel while in company with President Smith, at the time they received the office of the lesser priesthood” (Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings. Vol. 1 [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 20-21). This explanation is suspicious since there had been more than ample opportunity to ordain Cowdery before December 1834.
104. Patriarchal Blessing Book, 1:12 (EMD 2:454); emphasis added. Oliver Cowdery copied this December 1833 blessing into the patriarchal blessing book on 2 October 1835. Although the original blessing is not extant, comparisons with other blessings indicate that “Cowdery greatly expanded the blessings beyond their contents as initially recorded” (Faulring, American Prophet’s Record, 19, n. 8).
105. See Ghazi Asaad, Hallucinations in Clinical Psychiatry: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1990), 17 (sleep deprivation), 102 (food and water deprivation), 102 (fatigue), 102-103 (stress).
112. See Isaac Hale, Land Agreement with Joseph Smith, 6 Apr. 1829, Joseph Smith Collection, LDS Church Archives (EMD 4:427-28); Isaac Hale, Land Deed to Joseph Smith, 25 Aug. 1830, Joseph Smith Collection (EMD 4:428-31); Transcript, George H. Noble & Co. vs. Joseph Smith Jr., 26 Aug. 1830, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, PA (EMD 4:434-35).
113. Newel Knight remembered that Joseph Smith and John Whitmer were accompanied by Hyrum Smith and David Whitmer when they finally arrived in Colesville ([Knight], “Newel Knight Journal,” 63 [EMD 4:59]).
116. Smith’s history has “early August” for the reception of Doctrine and Covenants 27:1-4, and Knight’s autobiography follows this dating; but the 1833 Book of Commandments has 4 September 1830 and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants has “September 1830.” It is probable that the compilers of Smith’s history dated the Knights’ visit to Harmony based on their mistaken belief that Smith had moved to Fayette prior to the planned church conference of 1 September 1830 which was actually held 26-28 September. The compilers re-dated and divided D&C 27, “the first paragraph [vv. 1-4] of which was written at this time [early August], and the remainder in the September following” (J. Smith, Manuscript History, 51 [EMD 1:130]). However, the fact that D&C 27:5-18 was not included in the Book of Commandments indicates that these verses were probably composed at a later date, sometime prior to the publication of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, as discussed above.
131. David Whitmer is unconvincing when he tries in 1887 to distance himself from Page’s revelations: “Oliver and I never thought much of them. We talked of them, and thought they might be from God, or might be from Satan” (Saints’ Herald 34 [6 Feb. 1887]: 90).
134. Book of Commandments 29: heading. According to the record of the conference, the six elders were Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Samuel H. Smith, and Thomas B. Marsh (“The Conference Minutes, and Record Book, of Christ’s Church of Latter Day Saints Belonging to the High Council of said Church, or their successors in office, of Caldwell County Missouri; Far West: April 6, 1838,” 1-2, LDS Church Archives [EMD 5:350-51]; hereafter cited as “Far West Record”). Parley P. Pratt, who had been ordained an elder about 1 September 1830, was not present.
140. Although the record states that Newel was ordained a priest, his autobiography says that he was ordained an elder soon after his baptism (Newel Knight, Journal [B], ca. 1846, LDS Church Archives [EMD 4:44]). On 10 October 1830, as a result of Newel’s and Hyrum’s preaching, two people were baptized and afterwards confirmed (Journal [A], 24 [EMD 4:39]). Since Hyrum was a priest, a puzzle exists as to who confirmed these two Colesville converts. Perhaps Newel was ordained an elder on a subsequent occasion.
151. “Return of the Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112 held in the Town of Palmyra in the County of Wayne and State of New York from June 4th AL 5827  to June 4th AL 5828 ,” Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, Chancellor Livingston Library, NY (EMD 3:452-56).
153. See, e.g., Robert R. King and Kay Atkinson King, “The Effect of Mormon Organizational Boundaries on Group Cohesion,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17 (Spring 1984): 66-67, which references Georg Simmel, Conflict and the Web of Group-Affiliations, trans. Kurt H. Wolff and Reinhard Bendix (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1955), 13-123, and Lewis A. Coser, Functions of Social Conflict (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1956).