Burlington Daily Times – June 27, 1930
Apropos of a lecture recently delivered in Burlington, it may be interesting to your readers to have somebody answer two questions: First, What ever became of the "Lost Tribes of Israel?" Second, What was the origin of the Book of Mormon?
As to the first question: It is now definitely known that the ten tribes of Israel were never "lost" in any proper sense. They remained in Babylon after the captivity, and thence migrated in the centuries following to various countries. No doubt many of their descendants were among that crowd which gathered at Pentecost after the death and ascension of our Lord -- "Parthians, and Medes and Elamites" etc. It is certain that many thousands of them were forced at the point of a sword to accept Mohammedanism. It is now admitted by most learned Jews as well as Gentiles, that the theory which is still advanced from time to time that the American Indians are the descendants of those tribes, is without foundation in fact. That theory at present is being kept alive by the Mormons in order to provide a plausible ground for [urging] the acceptance of the Book of Mormon as a revelation supplementary to that contained in the Bible.
What was the origin of the Book of Mormon?
About 1812 an invalid minister of the Congregational Church, Rev. Solomon Spaulding, was in business at Salem, now Conneaut, O. He occupied his leisure hours in composing a romance, written in Biblical phraseology, suggested by the discovery of Indian relics in a mound near his house. This work he entitled "The Lost Manuscript Found." It purported to be the record of the wonderings and afflictions of a portion of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who, it was claimed, came over to America about 600 B. C., and set up a kingdom. In the course of events a rebellion ensued, and from the rebellious and successful party it is claimed that the American Indians are descended. The book related that among the relics of that ancient Hebrew kingdom were found "some golden plates covered by heiroglyphical writing," of which the "Manuscript Found" was alleged to be a translation. Spaulding tried to induce a Mr. Patterson, a Pittsburgh printer, to publish his book, but unsuccessfully. During a period of some months, while the Mss. was in the office, Sidney Rigdon, who afterwards became prominent, first as a preacher in the Campbellite (or Disciples) church, and later joined Joseph Smith, Jr., in establishing Mormonism, was a printer in the office. It is believed by Spaulding's family, and by all others who know the facts, that Rigdon copied Spaulding's Mss. Before the Book of Mormon appeared, and before Joseph Smith announced himself a prophet of the Lord, Rigdon was known to be inpossession of a Mss., which he studied constantly, and was in the habit of declaring that the times were ripe for the appearance of a new religion. When the first Mormon elders appeared in Ohio, Rigdon was pastor of a Campbellite church at Kirtland. He first opposed the new doctrine, and engaged in a public debate with the Mormons. A few days later he announced his conversion to the [new] faith and his congregation followed him. Shortly afterward we find him actively engaged with Smith in establishing the new church. He was eventually expelled from the Mormon body -- it is believed because he knew too much about the origin of the Book of Mormon. When that book appeared many people were still living who had heard Spaulding read portions of his romance to his family and neighbors, and they were struck by the resemblance in sytle and contents between the Book of Mormon and the unpublished romance of their old friend. Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, a grand neice of Spaulding, published a book entitled "New Light on Mormonism," giving an account of her uncle's romance, and in connection therewith the statements of her aunt, Spaulding's widow; of her daughter, of his business partner; of his brother, John Spaulding; of Thurlow Weed, to whom Joseph Smith first applied to have his "Book of Mormon" printed; of the printer who set up the types and printed the first edition of the book; and of sundry others, all well adapted to render cautious people a little indisposed to surrender their church connections and join the church established by Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1830.
The statements of Spaulding's relatives and neighbors agree as to the resemblance in style and contents of the Book of Mormon to the unpublished work of the invalid minister. In addition there is evidence that one D. P. Hurlbut, then associated with the Mormons, who had even then adoped the name of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," obtained a Mss. from Spaulding's widow, professing a desire to compare it with the Book of Mormon, and promising to return it promptly. He never did; and for this fact we have his own admission that he did procure a Mss. from her, which he alleges was intrusted to one Howe, in whose office it was burned when the building burned. Shortly after securing possession of the Spaulding Mss. Hurlbut bought a good farm. Later he forsook Mormonism. If the belief of the Spauldings, that the Book of Mormon was either copied or plagiarized in substance from "The Lost Manuscript Found" is true, we can well see what a motive the Mormons would have to get possession of it and destroy it, and how willing the conspirators would be to pay anybody who could secure the original Spaulding Mss. It is believed that through Hurlbut they archieved their desire.
But for any intelligent person, no further evidence is needed to convince one that the Book of Mormon is not a divine revelation than the first edition of the book itself. It was published "for the author" by E. B. Grandin, of Palmyra, New York, in 1830. Joseph Smith's name appears in the title page (of which we have a facsimile in Kennedy's "Early Days of Mormonism") as "author and proprietor." It is noteworthy that there are no Mormons at Palmyra, where the Smiths were best known, and but one sermon was ever delivered there, which was the last. J. H. Gilbert, the printer, testified that the Mss. brought to them was so full of errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation that they were compelled against the protests at first of those who brought the copy, to make many corrections. This is to say the least, suspicious. Would the Lord inspire a prophet to mispell words, to butcher the King's English and to mispunctuate sentences? An error in grammar appears on the title page of that work, as follows: "I make a record of my proceedings in my days; yea, I make a record in the language in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians," and it is decidedly bad grammar to say, "I know that the record which I make to be true." Good grammar is not a characteristic of the published utterances of the Mormon prophet.
All the evidence available shows fraud, deceit, and unscrupulous imposition on the part of Joseph Smith, Jr., the false prophet, and his accomplices in the great fraud, and boundless credulity on the part of his thousands of dupes. Yet the Mormons now number in their several sects, Strangites, Josephites and Brighamites -- the latter being the largest of all -- more than half a million members. They are winning, even in Alamance county, more converts among the ignorant members of our churches than our churches are winning from the world of the ungodly. They have established congregations at Haw River and Burlington -- the latter holding its meetings in a home on Fisher street -- and would have by this time been building a church here but for the failure of the Alamance Real Estate company. Some years ago a elder and his wife were working at Lakeside Mill. That such a work should have gained large headway argues singular blindness and inertia on the part of some amongst us.
Wm. P. McCorkle.
Note: The following excerpts were taken from a biographical sketch posted at www.lexisnexis.com: "William Parsons McCorkle (1855-1933), clergyman and religious writer, was born in Talladega, Alabama... a native of Rockbridge County, Virginia... A Presbyterian minister, he preached widely in Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama and helped to found a synodical college for women in Talladega (later the Presbyterian Collegiate Institute and Isabell College)... In 1876, he was licensed to preach by the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and five years later was ordained.... [in] North Carolina in 1888, he became a minister of the Presbyterian church and remained so until his death. After a brief pastorate in a rural church near Charlotte (1888-1889), McCorkle served churches in High Point, Jamestown, and Lexington (1889-1891), Shelby (1891-1896), Graham (1896-1901), Savannah, Georgia (1901-1907), Martinsville, Virginia (1908-1919), and Burlington, North Carolina (1920-1921). From 1921 until his death, he served several churches of the Orange Presbytery in the Burlington area... His interest in the relationship of Christianity to science and the modern world led him to publish one book, Christian Science; or, the False Christ of 1866, and a host of articles in church publications.... McCorkle wrote frequent articles expressing his views in newspapers in Charlotte, Greensboro, and other Piedmont cities... he also was active in mustering the support of Presbyterians for the Poole bill, introduced by Representative D. Scott Poole in 1926 to prohibit the teaching of evolution in the state's schools."
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