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Anthon Transcript


External Link
Clay County Museum 0072-131-a
Anthon Transcript
David Whitmer
1828
(Note:  This piece of paper was in the possession of David Whitmer until his death in 1888, and was always affirmed by him to be the original paper Martin Harris took to Charles Anthon in 1828. This is the oldest known photograph to exist of the document, taken by Jacob Hicks before the portion containing the characters was torn from the rest of the page some time before 1884. In December, 1844 these characters were printed in a broadside created by The Prophet, a church-owned newspaper, seen here, as well as in an article seen here. The torn page is currently in the possession of the Community of Christ and can be seen here.)

   At this particular state of the recital, an inspection of a copy of the hieroglyphics made from the first of the gold plates by Joseph Smith and preserved with the same solicitude that is thrown around the original manuscript, becomes of curious interest. The accompanying cut is a perfect fac-simile of the little sheet which took Joseph Smith a whole week to copy, so particular was he that the characters should be perfectly reproduced and that the reformed Egyptian language should be shown up in all its native simplicity, for, it must not be forgotten, there was a singular significance in errand which this scrap of paper was destined to perform.<br>
   Martin Harris, who had received a similar visitation to that recounted of the other two witnesses, was despatched to New York with this copy of the gold plate, which he presented to Professor Anthon with a request for the learned linguist to read it, in fulfillment of a prophecy of Isaiah, which is here literally applied and which reads:<br>
   And the word of the Lord has become unto them as the leaves of a book which are sealed, and which is delivered unto him that is learned, saying Read this, I pray thee, and he saith, I cannot for it is sealed, etc.
External Link
The Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, IL, 17 Oct, 1886, Vol 15, No 207, pg 17
David Whitmer in Chicago Newspaper
David Whitmer
17 Oct, 1886
   At this particular state of the recital, an inspection of a copy of the hieroglyphics made from the first of the gold plates by Joseph Smith and preserved with the same solicitude that is thrown around the original manuscript, becomes of curious interest. The accompanying cut is a perfect fac-simile of the little sheet which took Joseph Smith a whole week to copy, so particular was he that the characters should be perfectly reproduced and that the "reformed Egyptian" language should be shown up in all its native simplicity, for, it must not be forgotten, there was a singular significance in errand which this scrap of paper was destined to perform.
   Martin Harris, who had received a similar "visitation" to that recounted of the other two witnesses, was despatched to New York with this copy of the gold plate, which he presented to Professor Anthon with a request for the learned linguist to read it, in fulfillment of a prophecy of Isaiah, which is here literally applied and which reads:
   And the word of the Lord has become unto them as the leaves of a book which are sealed, and which is delivered unto him that is learned, saying Read this, I pray thee, and he saith, I cannot for it is sealed, etc.

   His sons were: Jesse, David, Alvah, Isaac Ward, and Reuben. The last named assisted Joe Smith to fix up some characters such as Smith pretended were engraven on his book of plates.
Full Source
External Link
History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, Emily C. Blackman, pg 104
Assistance from Reuben Hale
Emily C. Blackman
1873
   His sons were: Jesse, David, Alvah, Isaac Ward, and Reuben. The last named "assisted Joe Smith to fix up some characters such as Smith pretended were engraven on his book of plates."

   A few however, believed the golden story, among whom was Martin Harris, an honest and industrious farmer of this town. So blindly enthusiastic was Harris, that he took some of the characters interpreted by Smith, and went in search of some one, besides the interpreter, who was learned enough to English them; but all to whom he applied (among the number was Professor Mitchell, of New York,) happened not to be possessed of sufficient knowledge to give satisfaction! Harris returned, and set Smith to work at interpreting the Bible.
External Link
Palmyra Freeman, August 11, 1829
Palmyra newspaper article
Palmyra Freeman
11 Aug, 1829
   A few however, believed the "golden" story, among whom was Martin Harris, an honest and industrious farmer of this town. So blindly enthusiastic was Harris, that he took some of the characters interpreted by Smith, and went in search of some one, besides the interpreter, who was learned enough to English them; but all to whom he applied (among the number was Professor Mitchell, of New York,) happened not to be possessed of sufficient knowledge to give satisfaction! Harris returned, and set Smith to work at interpreting the Bible.
(Note:  No images of the original are available online. This article was reprinted in the August 27, 1829 issue of the Niagara Courier and the August 31, 1829 issue of the Rochester Daily Advertiser and Telegraph, which can be read here.)

   Joseph, not being able to read the characters, made a copy of some of them, which he showed to some of the most learned men of the vicinity. All the clue he could obtain was from George Crane, who said he had seen a Pass that had been given to Luther Bradish, when traveling through the Turkish dominions; and he thought the characters resembled those of that Pass. Accordingly, Joseph went to Franklin-county, and saw Mr. Bradish, who could not read the strange characters, but advised him to return home and go into other business. But Joseph was not willing to give up the matter, without further trial; and from Franklin county he went to New York city, where the most learned man then in the city told him that, with few exceptions, the characters were Arabic, but not enough to make any thing out.
Full Source
External Link
Historical Magazine (second series),Vol 7, Interview with the Father of Joseph Smith, pg 307
1830 Interview with Joseph Smith Sr.
Fayette Lapham
May, 1870
   Joseph, not being able to read the characters, made a copy of some of them, which he showed to some of the most learned men of the vicinity. All the clue he could obtain was from George Crane, who said he had seen a Pass that had been given to Luther Bradish, when traveling through the Turkish dominions; and he thought the characters resembled those of that Pass. Accordingly, Joseph went to Franklin-county, and saw Mr. Bradish, who could not read the strange characters, but advised him to return home and go into other business. But Joseph was not willing to give up the matter, without further trial; and from Franklin county he went to New York city, where the most learned man then in the city told him that, with few exceptions, the characters were Arabic, but not enough to make any thing out.

   in December following we mooved to Susquehana by the assistence of a man by the name of Martin Haris who became convinced of th vision and gave me fifty Dollars to bare my expences and because of his faith and this rightheous deed the Lord appeared unto him in a vision and shewed unto him his marvilous work which he was about to do and imediately came to Suquehannah and said the Lord had shown him that he must go to new York City with some of the characters so we proceeded to coppy some of them and he took his Journy to the Eastern Cittys and to the Learned read this I pray thee and the learned said I cannot but if he would bring the blates they would read it but the Lord had forbid it and he returned to me and gave them to translate and I said I said cannot for I am not learned but the Lord  had prepared spectacles for to read the Book therefore I commenced translating the characters and thus the Propicy of Isiaah was fulfilled which is writen in the 29 chaptr concerning the book
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, circa Summer 1832, pg 5
Joseph Smith 1832 handwritten account
Joseph Smith Jr.
1832
   in December following we mooved to Susquehana by the assistence of a man by the name of Martin Haris who became convinced of th vision and gave me fifty Dollars to bare my expences and because of his faith and this rightheous deed the Lord appeared unto him in a vision and shewed unto him his marvilous work which he was about to do and imediately came to Suquehannah and said the Lord had shown him that he must go to new York City with some of the characters so we proceeded to coppy some of them and he took his Journy to the Eastern Cittys and to the Learned read this I pray thee and the learned said I cannot but if he would bring the blates they would read it but the Lord had forbid it and he returned to me and gave them to translate and I said I said cannot for I am not learned but the Lord had prepared spectacles for to read the Book therefore I commenced translating the characters and thus the Propicy of Isiaah was fulfilled which is writen in the 29 chaptr concerning the book

Dear Sir –<br>
   I received this morning your favor of the 9th instant, and lose no time in making a reply. The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics is perfectly false. Some years ago, a plain, and apparently simple-hearted farmer, called upon me with a note from Dr. Mitchell of our city, now deceased, requesting me to decypher, if possible, a paper, which the farmer would hand me, and which Dr. M. confessed he had been unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick, perhaps a hoax. When I asked the person, who brought it, how he obtained the writing, he gave me, as far as I can now recollect, the following account: A gold book, consisting of a number of plates of gold, fastened together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and along with the book an enormous pair of gold spectacles! These spectacles were so large, that, if a person attempted to look through them, his two eyes would have to be turned towards one of the glasses merely, the spectacles in question being altogether too large for the breadth of the human face. Whoever examined the plates through the spectacles, was enabled not only to read them, but fully to understand their meaning. All this knowledge, however, was confined at that time to a young man, who had the trunk containing the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man was placed behind a curtain, in the garret of a farm house, and, being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses, decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain, to those who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the plates having been decyphered by the gift of God. Every thing, in this way, was effected by the large pair of spectacles. The farmer added, that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money towards the publication of the golden book, the contents of which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in the world and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with the spectacles. On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax upon the learned, I began to regard it as part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing, which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave carrying the paper with him. This paper was in fact a singular scrawl. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calender given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject, since the Mormonite excitement began, and well remember that the paper contained any thing else but Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Some time after, the same farmer paid me a second visit. He brought with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for sale. I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the book with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery which had been in my opinion practised upon him, and asked him what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they were in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to go to a magistrate and have the trunk examined. He said the curse of God would come upon him should he do this. On my pressing him, however, to pursue the course which I had recommended, he told me that he would open the trunk, if I would take the curse of God upon myself. I replied that I would do so with the greatest willingness, and would incur every risk of that nature, provided I could only extricate him from the grasp of rogues. He then left me.<br>
   I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know respecting the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a personal favor, to publish this letter immediately, should you find my name mentioned again by these wretched fanatics.
Full Source
External Link
Mormonism Unvailed, E.D. Howe, pgs 270-72
Charles Anthon Letter to E.D. Howe
Charles Anthon
17 Feb, 1834
Dear Sir –
   I received this morning your favor of the 9th instant, and lose no time in making a reply. The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be "reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics" is perfectly false. Some years ago, a plain, and apparently simple-hearted farmer, called upon me with a note from Dr. Mitchell of our city, now deceased, requesting me to decypher, if possible, a paper, which the farmer would hand me, and which Dr. M. confessed he had been unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick, perhaps a hoax. When I asked the person, who brought it, how he obtained the writing, he gave me, as far as I can now recollect, the following account: A "gold book," consisting of a number of plates of gold, fastened together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and along with the book an enormous pair of "gold spectacles"! These spectacles were so large, that, if a person attempted to look through them, his two eyes would have to be turned towards one of the glasses merely, the spectacles in question being altogether too large for the breadth of the human face. Whoever examined the plates through the spectacles, was enabled not only to read them, but fully to understand their meaning. All this knowledge, however, was confined at that time to a young man, who had the trunk containing the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man was placed behind a curtain, in the garret of a farm house, and, being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses, decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain, to those who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the plates having been decyphered "by the gift of God." Every thing, in this way, was effected by the large pair of spectacles. The farmer added, that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money towards the publication of the "golden book," the contents of which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in the world and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with the spectacles. On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax upon the learned, I began to regard it as part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing, which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave carrying the paper with him. This paper was in fact a singular scrawl. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calender given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject, since the Mormonite excitement began, and well remember that the paper contained any thing else but "Egyptian Hieroglyphics." Some time after, the same farmer paid me a second visit. He brought with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for sale. I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the book with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery which had been in my opinion practised upon him, and asked him what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they were in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to go to a magistrate and have the trunk examined. He said the "curse of God" would come upon him should he do this. On my pressing him, however, to pursue the course which I had recommended, he told me that he would open the trunk, if I would take the "curse of God" upon myself. I replied that I would do so with the greatest willingness, and would incur every risk of that nature, provided I could only extricate him from the grasp of rogues. He then left me.
   I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know respecting the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a personal favor, to publish this letter immediately, should you find my name mentioned again by these wretched fanatics.

   Yet, said he, the scripture must be fulfilled before it is translated, which says that the words of a book, which were sealed, were presented to the learned; for thus has God determined to leave men without excuse, and show to the meek that his arm is not shortened that it cannot save.
Full Source
External Link
Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate Volume 1, February 1835, pg 89
Oliver Cowdery account in the Messenger & Advocate
Oliver Cowdery
Feb, 1835
   "Yet," said he, "the scripture must be fulfilled before it is translated, which says that the words of a book, which were sealed, were presented to the learned; for thus has God determined to leave men without excuse, and show to the meek that his arm is not shortened that it cannot save."

   By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pensylvania, and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters of all the plates. I copyed a considerable number of them and by means of the Urim and Thummin I translated some of them which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father in the month of December, and the February following. Some time in this month of February the aforementioned Mr Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off of the plates and started with them to the City of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters I refer to his own account of the circumstances as he related them to me after his return which was as follows. I went to the City of New York and presented the Characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Anthony a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthony stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian.<br>
   I then shewed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were  Egyptian, Chaldeak, Assyriac, and Arabac, and he said that they were true charac ters. He gave me a certificate certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct.<br>
   I took the Certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr Anthony called me back and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an Angel of God had revealed it unto him. He then said to me, let me see that certificate, I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it him when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministring of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him, he would translate them. I left him and went to Dr Mitchel who sanctioned what Professor Anthony had said respecting both the Characters and the translation.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], pg 11
Account in Joseph Smith's 1838 History
Joseph Smith, Jr.
1838
   By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pensylvania, and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters of all the plates. I copyed a considerable number of them and by means of the Urim and Thummin I translated some of them which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father in the month of December, and the February following. Some time in this month of February the aforementioned Mr Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off of the plates and started with them to the City of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters I refer to his own account of the circumstances as he related them to me after his return which was as follows. "I went to the City of New York and presented the Characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Anthony a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthony stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian.
   I then shewed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldeak, Assyriac, and Arabac, and he said that they were true charac ters. He gave me a certificate certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct.
   I took the Certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr Anthony called me back and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an Angel of God had revealed it unto him. He then said to me, let me see that certificate, I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it him when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministring of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him, he would translate them. I left him and went to Dr Mitchel who sanctioned what Professor Anthony had said respecting both the Characters and the translation."

   Many years ago—the precise date I do not now recollect,—a plain-looking countryman called upon me with a letter from Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell, requesting me to examine, and give my opinion upon a certain paper, marked with various characters, which the doctor confessed he could not decipher, and which the bearer of the note was very anxious to have explained. A very brief examination of the paper convinced me that it was a mere hoax, a very clumsy one too. The characters were arranged in columns, like the Chinese mode of writing, and presented the most singular medley that I ever beheld. Greek, Hebrew and all sorts of letters, more or less distorted, either through unskilfulness or from actual design, were intermingled with sundry delineations of half moons, stars, and other natural objects, and the whole ended in a rude representation of the Mexican zodiac. The conclusion was irresistible, that some cunning fellow had prepared the paper in question for the purpose of imposing upon the countryman, who brought it, and I told the man so without any hesitation. He then proceeded to give me the history of the whole affair, which convinced me that he had fallen into the hands of some sharper, while it left me in great astonishment at his simplicity.<br>
   The countryman told me that a gold book had been recently dug up in the western or northern part (I forget which), of our state, and he described this book as consisting of many gold plates like leaves, secured by a gold wire passing through the edge of each, just as the leaves of a book are sewed together, and presented in this way the appearance of a volume. Each plate, according to him, was inscribed with unknown characters, and the paper which he handed me, a transcript of one of these pages.<br>
   On my asking him by whom the copy was made, he gravely stated, that along with the golden book there had been dug up a very large pair of spectacles! so large in fact that if a man were to hold them in front of his face, his two eyes would merely look through one of the glasses, and the remaining part of the spectacles would project a considerable distance sideways! These spectacles possessed, it seems a very valuable property, of enabling any one who looked through them, (or rather through one of the lenses,) not only to decipher the characters on the plates, but also to comprehend their exact meaning, and be able to translate them!<br>
   My informant assured me that this curious property of the spectacles had been actually tested, and found to be true. A young man, it seems, had been placed in the garret of a farm-house, with a curtain before him, and having fastened the spectacles to his head, had read several pages in the golden book, and communicated their contents in writing to certain persons stationed on the outside of the curtain. He had also copied off one page of the book in the original character, which he had in like manner handed over to those who were separated from him by the curtain, and this copy was the paper which the countryman had brought with him.<br>
   As the golden book was said to contain very great truths, and most important revelations of a religious nature, a strong desire had been expressed by several persons in the countryman's neighborhood, to have the whole work translated and published. A proposition had accordingly been made to my informant, to sell his farm, and apply the proceeds to the printing of the golden book, and the golden plates were to be left with him as a security until he should be reimbursed by the sale of the work. To convince him more clearly that there was no risk whatever in the matter, and that the work was actually what it claimed to be, he was told to take the paper, which purported to be a copy of one of the pages of the book, to the city of New York, and submit it to the learned in that quarter, who would soon dispel all his doubts, and satisfy him as to the perfect safety of the investment.<br>
   As Dr. Mitchell was our 'Magnus Appollo' in those days, the man called first upon him; but the Doctor, evidently suspecting some trick, declined giving any opinion about the matter, and sent the countryman down to the college, to see, in all probability, what the 'learned pundits' in that place would make of the affair.<br>
   On my telling the bearer of the paper that an attempt had been made to impose on him and defraud him of his property, he requested me to give him my opinion in writing about the paper which he had shown me. I did so without hesitation, partly for the man's sake, and partly to let the individual 'behind the curtain' see that his trick was discovered. The import of what I wrote was, as far as I can now recollect, simply this, that the marks in the paper appeared to be merely an imitation of various alphabetical characters, and had, in my opinion, no meaning at all connected with them. The countryman then took his leave, with many thanks, and with the express declaration that he would in no shape part with his farm, or embark in the speculation of printing the golden book.<br>
   The matter rested here for a considerable time, until one day, when I had ceased entirely to think of the countryman and his paper, this same individual to my great surprise paid me a second visit. He now brought with him a duodecimo volume, which he said was a translation into English of the 'Golden Bible.' He also stated that notwithstanding his original determination not to sell his farm, he had been induced eventually to do so, and apply the money to the publication of the book, and received the golden plates as a security for repayment. He begged my acceptance of the volume, assuring me that it would be found extremely interesting, and that it was already 'making great noise' in the upper part of the state. Suspecting now, that some serious trick was on foot, and that my plain-looking visitor might be in fact a very cunning fellow, I declined his present, and merely contented myself with a slight examination of the volume while he stood by. The more I declined receiving it, however, the more urgent the man became in offering the book until at last I told him plainly that if he left the volume, as he said he intended to do, I should most assuredly throw it after him as he departed.<br>
   I then asked him how he could be so foolish as to sell his farm and engage in this affair; and requested him to tell me if the plates were really of gold. In answer to this latter inquiry, he said, that he had not seen the plates themselves, which were carefully locked up in a trunk, but that he had the trunk in his possession. I advised him by all means to open the trunk and examine its contents, and if the plates proved to be gold, which I did not believe at all, to sell them immediately. His reply was, that if he opened the trunk, the 'curse of Heaven would descend upon him and his children.' However, added he, 'I will agree to open it, provided you take the 'curse of Heaven' upon yourself, for having advised me to the step.' I told him I was perfectly willing to do so, and begged he would hasten home and examine the trunk, for he would find he had been cheated. He promised to do as I recommended, and left me, taking his book with him. I have never seen him since.<br>
   Such is a plain statement of all I know respecting Mormons. My impression now is, that the plain-looking countryman was none other than the Prophet Smith himself, who assumed an appearance of great simplicity in order to entrap me, if possible, into some recommendation of his book. That the Prophet aided me by his inspiration in interpreting the volume, is only one of the many amusing falsehoods which the Mormonites utter, relative to my participation in their doctrines. Of these doctrines I know nothing whatever, nor have I ever heard a single discourse from any of their preachers, although I have often felt a strong curiosity to become an auditor, since my friends tell me that they frequently name me in their sermons, and even go so far as to say, that I am alluded to in the prophecies of scripture!<br>
   If what I have here written shall prove of any service in opening the eyes of some of their deluded followers to the real designs of those who profess to be the apostles of Mormonism, it will afford me satisfaction equalled, I have no doubt, only by that which yourself will feel on this subject.<br>
<br>
   I remain, very respectfully and truly, your friend,<br>
External Link
Gleanings by the way, pgs 233-38
Charles Anthon 1841 Letter to Rev. T. W. Coit
Charles Anthon
3 April, 1841
   Many years ago—the precise date I do not now recollect,—a plain-looking countryman called upon me with a letter from Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell, requesting me to examine, and give my opinion upon a certain paper, marked with various characters, which the doctor confessed he could not decipher, and which the bearer of the note was very anxious to have explained. A very brief examination of the paper convinced me that it was a mere hoax, a very clumsy one too. The characters were arranged in columns, like the Chinese mode of writing, and presented the most singular medley that I ever beheld. Greek, Hebrew and all sorts of letters, more or less distorted, either through unskilfulness or from actual design, were intermingled with sundry delineations of half moons, stars, and other natural objects, and the whole ended in a rude representation of the Mexican zodiac. The conclusion was irresistible, that some cunning fellow had prepared the paper in question for the purpose of imposing upon the countryman, who brought it, and I told the man so without any hesitation. He then proceeded to give me the history of the whole affair, which convinced me that he had fallen into the hands of some sharper, while it left me in great astonishment at his simplicity.
   The countryman told me that a gold book had been recently dug up in the western or northern part (I forget which), of our state, and he described this book as consisting of many gold plates like leaves, secured by a gold wire passing through the edge of each, just as the leaves of a book are sewed together, and presented in this way the appearance of a volume. Each plate, according to him, was inscribed with unknown characters, and the paper which he handed me, a transcript of one of these pages.
   On my asking him by whom the copy was made, he gravely stated, that along with the golden book there had been dug up a very large pair of spectacles! so large in fact that if a man were to hold them in front of his face, his two eyes would merely look through one of the glasses, and the remaining part of the spectacles would project a considerable distance sideways! These spectacles possessed, it seems a very valuable property, of enabling any one who looked through them, (or rather through one of the lenses,) not only to decipher the characters on the plates, but also to comprehend their exact meaning, and be able to translate them!
   My informant assured me that this curious property of the spectacles had been actually tested, and found to be true. A young man, it seems, had been placed in the garret of a farm-house, with a curtain before him, and having fastened the spectacles to his head, had read several pages in the golden book, and communicated their contents in writing to certain persons stationed on the outside of the curtain. He had also copied off one page of the book in the original character, which he had in like manner handed over to those who were separated from him by the curtain, and this copy was the paper which the countryman had brought with him.
   As the golden book was said to contain very great truths, and most important revelations of a religious nature, a strong desire had been expressed by several persons in the countryman's neighborhood, to have the whole work translated and published. A proposition had accordingly been made to my informant, to sell his farm, and apply the proceeds to the printing of the golden book, and the golden plates were to be left with him as a security until he should be reimbursed by the sale of the work. To convince him more clearly that there was no risk whatever in the matter, and that the work was actually what it claimed to be, he was told to take the paper, which purported to be a copy of one of the pages of the book, to the city of New York, and submit it to the learned in that quarter, who would soon dispel all his doubts, and satisfy him as to the perfect safety of the investment.
   As Dr. Mitchell was our 'Magnus Appollo' in those days, the man called first upon him; but the Doctor, evidently suspecting some trick, declined giving any opinion about the matter, and sent the countryman down to the college, to see, in all probability, what the 'learned pundits' in that place would make of the affair.
   On my telling the bearer of the paper that an attempt had been made to impose on him and defraud him of his property, he requested me to give him my opinion in writing about the paper which he had shown me. I did so without hesitation, partly for the man's sake, and partly to let the individual 'behind the curtain' see that his trick was discovered. The import of what I wrote was, as far as I can now recollect, simply this, that the marks in the paper appeared to be merely an imitation of various alphabetical characters, and had, in my opinion, no meaning at all connected with them. The countryman then took his leave, with many thanks, and with the express declaration that he would in no shape part with his farm, or embark in the speculation of printing the golden book.
   The matter rested here for a considerable time, until one day, when I had ceased entirely to think of the countryman and his paper, this same individual to my great surprise paid me a second visit. He now brought with him a duodecimo volume, which he said was a translation into English of the 'Golden Bible.' He also stated that notwithstanding his original determination not to sell his farm, he had been induced eventually to do so, and apply the money to the publication of the book, and received the golden plates as a security for repayment. He begged my acceptance of the volume, assuring me that it would be found extremely interesting, and that it was already 'making great noise' in the upper part of the state. Suspecting now, that some serious trick was on foot, and that my plain-looking visitor might be in fact a very cunning fellow, I declined his present, and merely contented myself with a slight examination of the volume while he stood by. The more I declined receiving it, however, the more urgent the man became in offering the book until at last I told him plainly that if he left the volume, as he said he intended to do, I should most assuredly throw it after him as he departed.
   I then asked him how he could be so foolish as to sell his farm and engage in this affair; and requested him to tell me if the plates were really of gold. In answer to this latter inquiry, he said, that he had not seen the plates themselves, which were carefully locked up in a trunk, but that he had the trunk in his possession. I advised him by all means to open the trunk and examine its contents, and if the plates proved to be gold, which I did not believe at all, to sell them immediately. His reply was, that if he opened the trunk, the 'curse of Heaven would descend upon him and his children.' However, added he, 'I will agree to open it, provided you take the 'curse of Heaven' upon yourself, for having advised me to the step.' I told him I was perfectly willing to do so, and begged he would hasten home and examine the trunk, for he would find he had been cheated. He promised to do as I recommended, and left me, taking his book with him. I have never seen him since.
   Such is a plain statement of all I know respecting Mormons. My impression now is, that the plain-looking countryman was none other than the Prophet Smith himself, who assumed an appearance of great simplicity in order to entrap me, if possible, into some recommendation of his book. That the Prophet aided me by his inspiration in interpreting the volume, is only one of the many amusing falsehoods which the Mormonites utter, relative to my participation in their doctrines. Of these doctrines I know nothing whatever, nor have I ever heard a single discourse from any of their preachers, although I have often felt a strong curiosity to become an auditor, since my friends tell me that they frequently name me in their sermons, and even go so far as to say, that I am alluded to in the prophecies of scripture!
   If what I have here written shall prove of any service in opening the eyes of some of their deluded followers to the real designs of those who profess to be the apostles of Mormonism, it will afford me satisfaction equalled, I have no doubt, only by that which yourself will feel on this subject.

   I remain, very respectfully and truly, your friend,

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Peoria Register and North-Western Gazetteer, Vol 5, No 23, Sep 3, 1841
William Smith Interview in 1841
James Murdock
19 Jun, 1841
   He brought them home, but was unable to read them. He afterwards made a facsimile of some parts of the inscription, and sent it to professor Anthon of New York city. The professor pronounced the characters to be ancient Hebrew corrupted, and the language to be degenerate Hebrew, with a mixture of Egyptian. He could decypher only one entire word.

   He now Began to be anxious to git them translated he therefore with his wife Drew of the Caricters exactley like the ancient and sent Martin Harris to see if he Could git them Translated he went to Albeny and to Philadelpha and to new york and he found men that Could Translate some of the Carictors in all those places Mitchel and Anthony of New York ware the most Larded But there were some Caricters they could not well understand therefore Anthony told him that he thot if he had the original he culd translate it and he rote a very good piece to Joseph and said if he would send the original he would translate it but at Last Martin Harris told him that he Could not have the original for it was Commanded not to be shone and he was mad and said what Does this mean and he tore the paper that he wrote all to pieces and stampid it under his feet and says Bring me the original or I will not translate it Mr. Harris seeing he was in a passion he said well I will go home and see and if they can be had I will wright to you immeditely so he Came home and told how it was and they went to him no more then was fulfild the 29th Chapter of Isiah
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Joseph Knight reminiscences, Church History Library, pgs 4-5
Joseph Knight Account
Joseph Knight
1833-1847
   He now Began to be anxious to git them translated he therefore with his wife Drew of the Caricters exactley like the ancient and sent Martin Harris to see if he Could git them Translated he went to Albeny and to Philadelpha and to new york and he found men that Could Translate some of the Carictors in all those places Mitchel and Anthony of New York ware the most Larded But there were some Caricters they could not well understand therefore Anthony told him that he thot if he had the original he culd translate it and he rote a very good piece to Joseph and said if he would send the original he would translate it but at Last Martin Harris told him that he Could not have the original for it was Commanded not to be shone and he was mad and said what Does this mean and he tore the paper that he wrote all to pieces and stampid it under his feet and says Bring me the original or I will not translate it Mr. Harris seeing he was in a passion he said well I will go home and see and if they can be had I will wright to you immeditely so he Came home and told how it was and they went to him no more then was fulfild the 29th Chapter of Isiah

   It soon became necessary to take some measures to accomplish the translation of the record into English but he was instructed to take off a fac simile of the alphabet Egyptian charecters Alphabetically and send them to all the learned men that he could find and ask them for the translation of the same. Joseph was very solicitous about the work but as yet no means had come into his hands of accomplishing the same...<br>
   it was agreed that Martin Harris should follow him as soon as he should have sufficient time to transcribe the Egyptian alphabet which Mr. Harris was to take to the east and through the country in every direction to all who were professed linguists to give them an opertunity of showing their talents.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, pgs 71 & 75
Lucy's Account
Lucy Mack Smith
1844-45
   It soon became necessary to take some measures to accomplish the translation of the record into English but he was instructed to take off a fac simile of the alphabet Egyptian charecters Alphabetically and send them to all the learned men that he could find and ask them for the translation of the same. Joseph was very solicitous about the work but as yet no means had come into his hands of accomplishing the same...
   it was agreed that Martin Harris should follow him as soon as he should have sufficient time to transcribe the Egyptian alphabet which Mr. Harris was to take to the east and through the country in every direction to all who were professed linguists to give them an opertunity of showing their talents.

   Mr. Harris further said: 'I took a transcript of the characters of the plates to Dr. Anthon, of New York. When I arrived at the home of Professor Anthon, I found him in his office and alone, and presented the transcript to him, and asked him to read it. He said if I would bring the plates, he would assist in the translation. I told him I could not, for they were sealed. Professor Anthon then gave me a certificate certifying that the characters were Arabic, Chaldaic and Egyptian.<br>
   I then left Dr. Anthon, and was near the door, when he said, 'How did the young man know the plates were there? I said an angel had shown them to him. Professor Anthon then said, 'Let me see the certificate!' Upon which, I took it from my waistcoat pocket and unsuspectingly gave it to him. He then tore it up in anger, saying: there was no such things as angels now, it was all a hoax. I then went to Dr. Mitchell with the transcript, and he confirmed what Professor Anthon had said.'
External Link
Millenial Star, 20 Aug, 1859, Vol 21, pgs 545-546
Martin Harris according to David B. Dille
David B. Dille
15 Sep, 1853
   Mr. Harris further said: 'I took a transcript of the characters of the plates to Dr. Anthon, of New York. When I arrived at the home of Professor Anthon, I found him in his office and alone, and presented the transcript to him, and asked him to read it. He said if I would bring the plates, he would assist in the translation. I told him I could not, for they were sealed. Professor Anthon then gave me a certificate certifying that the characters were Arabic, Chaldaic and Egyptian.
   I then left Dr. Anthon, and was near the door, when he said, 'How did the young man know the plates were there? I said an angel had shown them to him. Professor Anthon then said, 'Let me see the certificate!' Upon which, I took it from my waistcoat pocket and unsuspectingly gave it to him. He then tore it up in anger, saying: there was no such things as angels now, it was all a hoax. I then went to Dr. Mitchell with the transcript, and he confirmed what Professor Anthon had said.'
(Note:  According to the source, this is "from a manuscript found in the Millenial Star Office, written by Elder D. B. Dille.")

   before doing so, he sought out the wisdom of learned men, as he said, relative to the genuineness of the revelation and discovery. he accordingly procured from Smith some resemblances of antique characters or hieroglyphics purporting to be exact copies from the plates; which, together with the translations in his possession, he carried to New York City, where he sought for them the interpretation and bibliogical scrutiny of such scholars as Hon. Luther Bradish, Dr. Mitchell, Professor Anthon, and others. All the gentlemen applied to were understood to have scouted the whole pretense as too depraved for serious attention, while commiserating the applicant as the victim of fanaticism or insanity.<br>
   Harris, nevertheless, stood firm in his position, regarding these untoward results merely as proving the lack of wisdom on the part of the rejecters, and also as illustrating the truth of his favorite quotation, that God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.
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Origin, rise, and progress of Mormonism : biography of its founders and history of its church : personal remembrances and historical collections hitherto unwritten pgs 41-42
Pomeroy Tucker Account
Pomeroy Tucker
1867
   before doing so, he sought out the "wisdom of learned men," as he said, relative to the genuineness of the revelation and discovery. he accordingly procured from Smith some resemblances of antique characters or hieroglyphics purporting to be exact copies from the plates; which, together with the translations in his possession, he carried to New York City, where he sought for them the interpretation and bibliogical scrutiny of such scholars as Hon. Luther Bradish, Dr. Mitchell, Professor Anthon, and others. All the gentlemen applied to were understood to have scouted the whole pretense as too depraved for serious attention, while commiserating the applicant as the victim of fanaticism or insanity.
   Harris, nevertheless, stood firm in his position, regarding these untoward results merely as "proving the lack of wisdom" on the part of the rejecters, and also as illustrating the truth of his favorite quotation, that "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise."

   The celestial machinery for the translating process was very simple.  A copy of the hieroglyphics was taken, and then Smith either wrote his translation on a slate or dictated for others to write on paper.  Martin Harris having taken a scroll containing some of the hieroglyphics to Professor Anthon, the characters were pronounced to be partly Greek, partly Hebrew and partly Roman inverted, with a rude copy of Humboldt's Mexican calendar at the end.
External Link
Lippincott's Magazine 26:152, pgs 201-2
Frederick G. Mather Account
Frederic G. Mather
Aug, 1880
   The "celestial machinery" for the translating process was very simple. A copy of the hieroglyphics was taken, and then Smith either wrote his translation on a slate or dictated for others to write on paper. Martin Harris having taken a scroll containing some of the hieroglyphics to Professor Anthon, the characters were pronounced to be partly Greek, partly Hebrew and partly Roman inverted, with a rude copy of Humboldt's Mexican calendar at the end.

   He went by the request of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the city of New York, and presented a transcript of the records of the Book of Mormon to Professor Anthon and Dr. Mitchell and asked them to translate it. He also presented the same transcript to many other learned men at the different schools of learning in Geneva, Ithica, and Albany with the same request but was unsuccessful in obtaining the translation of the transcript from any of them. After his return from the City of New York he was employed as a scribe to the Prophet Joseph in the translation of the records of the Book of Mormon.
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The Saints' Herald, Vol 22, pgs 541-42
Martin Harris Jr. report on death and testimony of his father
Martin Harris Jr.
July, 1875
   He went by the request of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the city of New York, and presented a transcript of the records of the Book of Mormon to Professor Anthon and Dr. Mitchell and asked them to translate it. He also presented the same transcript to many other learned men at the different schools of learning in Geneva, Ithica, and Albany with the same request but was unsuccessful in obtaining the translation of the transcript from any of them. After his return from the City of New York he was employed as a scribe to the Prophet Joseph in the translation of the records of the Book of Mormon.
(Note:  This obituary, as given in the Saint's Herald, is preceded by the following introduction: "We publish the following obituary of Martin Harris, Senior, clipped from the Ogden Junction, only regretting its late appearance in our columns, as it will be of interest to all who have ever heard of the deceased." No images of the original obituary in the Ogden Junction are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

   When a short space of time had elapsed Mr H returned but his wifes anger kindled afresh at her husbands presence so much so that she prepared a bed and room for him alone which she refused to enter— A young man had been paying his addresses to Lucy Haris Martins oldest daughter by the name of Dikes this young Gentlemen the Father of Girl was very fond and the young Lady was not at all averse to him but of course Mrs. Harris was decidedly upon the negative. But just at this juncture a scheme entered her brain that changed her deportment to Mr Dikes very materially— She told Mr Dikes that if he would contrive to get the egyptian characters out of Martins possession and hire a room in Palmira & transcribe them accurately and bring her the transcripts that she would give him her daugter Lucy to wife Mr Dikes readily agreed to this and sufice it to say he succeeded to the woman’s satisfaction and received the promised reward. When Mr Haris began again to prepare to set out for Penn in order to set himself about the writing of the translation of the plates His wife told that she fully decreed in her heart to go also He proposed to her that she should go with him and stay a week or two on a visit and then he would take her home and go again to do the work of writing the Book She acceeded to this very cheerfully— But her husband did suspect what he was to encounter The first time he exhibited the egyptian charecters She took out of her pocket an exact copy of them and informed those present that Joe smith was not the only one that was in possesion of this great curiosity that she herself had the same characters and they were quite as genuine as those displayed them by Mr H she pursued this course wherevers she went untill she reached my sons house
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, pgs 76-77
Lucy Harris' Copy of the Transcript
Lucy Mack Smith
1844-45
   When a short space of time had elapsed Mr H returned but his wifes anger kindled afresh at her husbands presence so much so that she prepared a bed and room for him alone which she refused to enter— A young man had been paying his addresses to Lucy Haris Martins oldest daughter by the name of Dikes this young Gentlemen the Father of Girl was very fond and the young Lady was not at all averse to him but of course Mrs. Harris was decidedly upon the negative. But just at this juncture a scheme entered her brain that changed her deportment to Mr Dikes very materially— She told Mr Dikes that if he would contrive to get the egyptian characters out of Martins possession and hire a room in Palmira & transcribe them accurately and bring her the transcripts that she would give him her daugter Lucy to wife Mr Dikes readily agreed to this and sufice it to say he succeeded to the woman’s satisfaction and received the promised reward. When Mr Haris began again to prepare to set out for Penn in order to set himself about the writing of the translation of the plates His wife told that she fully decreed in her heart to go also He proposed to her that she should go with him and stay a week or two on a visit and then he would take her home and go again to do the work of writing the Book She acceeded to this very cheerfully— But her husband did suspect what he was to encounter The first time he exhibited the egyptian charecters She took out of her pocket an exact copy of them and informed those present that Joe smith was not the only one that was in possesion of this great curiosity that she herself had the same characters and they were quite as genuine as those displayed them by Mr H she pursued this course wherevers she went untill she reached my sons house

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Naked Truths About Mormonism, Vol 1, No 1, pg 2, col 6
William Hine Account
William Riley Hine
Jan, 1888
   About the spring of 1828, Jo came in front of my house where several men were pitching quoits. I said, "Peeker, what have you found?" He said he had found some metal plates which would be of great use to the world. He had them in a box in a handkerchief which he carried in one hand. I said, "Let me see them." Jo Smith said they must first be sent to Philadelphia to be translated. He said the only man in the world who could translate them lived there. After they were translated the world could see them. Calvin Smith, whose farm joined mine, said with an oath, he would see them. Jo said if he laid his hands on him he would prosecute him. I told Calvin he better not. Since I have seen the conduct of the Mormons, I have many times regretted that I interfered. Citizens wrote to parties in Philadelphia, where Jo said he had sent the plates and word was returned they had not received them. Jo said they could not be translated in Philadelphia and they had been sent to New York City. Justice N. K. Nobles wrote to New York and could learn nothing about them.
(Note:  No images of this source are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

   But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book, Take these words which are not sealed, and deliver them to another, that he may shew them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say, Bring hither the book, and I will read them: and now, because of the glory of the world, and to get gain, will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say, I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed. Then shall the learned say, I cannot read it. Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof, to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned, shall say, I am not learned. Then shall the Lord God say unto him, The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore, thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Book of Mormon, 1830, pg 111
2 Nephi 27:15-20
Joseph Smith, Jr.
1830
   But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book, Take these words which are not sealed, and deliver them to another, that he may shew them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say, Bring hither the book, and I will read them: and now, because of the glory of the world, and to get gain, will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say, I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed. Then shall the learned say, I cannot read it. Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof, to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned, shall say, I am not learned. Then shall the Lord God say unto him, The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore, thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.

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