We are indebted to a pious and intelligent gentleman of this city,
for the following description of Mormonism, as it is to be found
at Nauvoo, and of Jo Smith, its leader. The intelligent reader will
scarcely believe that such humbuggery could be successfully practiced,
at this day, upon the most credulous or ignorant of the community,
yet it is so in this instance.
Nauvoo, Nov. 4, 1841. Dear Sir: -- We were yesterday enjoying
the hospitality of Joseph Smith, the leading Prophet of the Latter
Day Saints, the Mormons. We are, this morning, on the declivity
of Zion's Hill, taking a last look at their city. We stand among
heaps of limestone rock, that are fast rising into a temple -- a
fac simile of the Temple which was built by Solomon, and trod by
the Savior. The devoted Mormons are hammering busily at a work,
and giving to it each the tenth of their time; and from thus up,
the half, or even the whole, both of time and property. Before us,
is the beginning of a great city -- a noble bottom land, already
half covered with cabins. Higher up, also, the bluffs and timber
are are thickly scattered with them, extending back a couple of
miles or more. Crowds of people, from England, many of them poor,
are pouring in. How they are to support themselves, or be supported,
Heaven only knows. It seems as if they must be driven, by sheer
necessity, to "spoil the Egyptians;" (i. e. all who are
not Mormons about them;) and it is not surprising that their name
is in bad odor with their neighbors. The notion that there is a
community of property, among them, is altogether false; and many
must and do suffer. Some few I have met at St. Louis, hastening
back to England, "while their money holds out."
The Mormon gathering is a singularly interesting phase of our times.
They are, too, say what you will, a singularly interesting people.
As a people, I am ready to believe all good of them. Would that
there were among them as much of Christian intelligence as of the
Of their leaders, or rather their chief leader, Joseph Smith, I
say nothing by way of private opinion. At your request, however,
I give through you, somewhat reluctantly, I confess, an account
of my interview with him. As he promptly discovered and revealed
to me that I was worthy of no man's confidence, I can certainly
betray no confidence in this case, try as I may. The facts as they
lie fresh in my memory, are simply these: Yesterday afternoon, in
company with a friend, I entered the house of this strange man,
intending to trespass but a few minutes on his hispitalities. I
expected to have seen a person of some dignity and reserve, and
with at least, an outside of austere piety. The Prophet was asleep,
in his rocking chair, when we entered. His wife and children were
busy about the room, ironing, &c., and one or two Mormon preachers,
lately returned from England, were sitting by the large log fire.
After having been introduced, the following talk ensued.
"You have the beginning of a great city here, Mr. Smith."
(Here came in the more prominent objects of the city, the
expense of the temple, Mr. Smith thought would be $200,000
or $300,000. The temple is 127 feet size, by 88 feet front;
and by its plan, which was kindly shown us, will fall short
of some of our public buildings. As yet only the foundations
are laid. Mr. Smith then spoke of the "false" reports
current about himself, and "supposed we had heard enough
||"You know sir, persecution sometimes drives "the
wise man mad."
|"Ah, sir, you must not put me among the wise men; my
place is not there. I make no pretensions to piety, either.
If you give me credit for anything, let it be for being a good
manager, A good manager I do claim to be."
||"You have great influence here, Mr. Smith."
||"Yes, I have. I bought 900 acres here, a few years ago,
and they all have their lands of me. My influence, however,
is ecclesiastical only; in civil affairs I am but a common citizen.
To be sure, I am a member of the City Council, and Lieutenant
General of the Nauvoo Legion. I can command a thousand men to
the field, at any moment, to support the laws. I had hard work
to make them turn out and form the 'Legion,' until I shouldered
my musket, and entered the ranks myself. Now, they have nearly
all provided for themselves with a good uniform, poor as they
are. By the way, we had a regular 'set to' up here, a day or
two since. The City Council ordered a liquor seller to leave
the place, when his time was up; and, as he still remained,
they directed that his house should be pulled down about his
ears. They gave me a hand in the scrape; and I had occasion
to knock a man down more than once. They mustered so strong
an opposition, that it was either 'knock down,' or 'be knocked
down.' We beat him off, at last; and are determined to have
no grog shops in or about our grounds."
||(The conversation flowed on pleasantly, until my friend, to
fill a pause that occurred, referred to my calling as a preacher.)
||"Well, I suppose (turning from me) he is one of the craft
trained to his creed."
||"My creed, sir, is the New Testament,"
||"Then, sir, we shall see trust just alike, for the scripture
says, 'They shall see, eye to eye.' All who are true men, must
read the bible alike, must they not?"
||"True, Mr. Smith; and yet I doubt if they will see it
precisely alike. If no two blades of grass are precisely alike,
for a higher reason, it seems that no two intellects are,"
| "There -- I told you so. You don't come here to seek
truth. You begin with taking the place of opposition. -- Now,
say what I may, you have but to answer, 'No two men can see
||"Mr. Smith, I said that not that no two men could see
alike; but that no two could see, on the whole, precisely alike."
||"Does not the scripture say, 'They shall see, eye to
||"Granted, sir; but be good enough to take a case. The
words 'all' and 'all things' were brought up as meaning, at
one time, universal creation. And again: 'One believeth that
he may eat all things,' i. e. any thing, or, as we say, every
||"You may explain away the bible, sir, as much as you
please. I ask you, have you ever been baptized?"
||"Yes, sir, I think I have."
||"Can you prophesy?"
||"Well, sir, that depends on the meaning you give the
word. I grant that it generally means to fortell; but I believe
that it often means, to preach the gospel. In this sense, sir,
I can prophesy."
||"You lie, sir, and you know it."
||"It is as easy for me to impugn your motives, Mr. Smith,
as for you to impugn mine."
||"I tell you, you don't seek to know the truth. You are
a hypocrite, I saw it when you first began to speak."
||"It is plain, Mr. Smith, that we differ in opinion. Now,
one man's opinion is as good as another's, until some third
party comes in to strike a balance between them."
||"I want no third party, sir. You are a fool, sir, to
talk as you do. Have I not seen twice the years that you have?
(Joseph Smith is 36 years old; the speaker, A., was 10 years
younger.) I say, sir, you are no gentleman. I wouldn't trust
you with my purse across the street."
||(Here my friend interposed, saying, I don't believe, Mr. Smith,
that this gentleman came to your house to insult you. He had
heard all sorts of accounts of your people, and came simply
to see with his own eyes.")
||"I have no ill feelings towards the gentleman. He is
welcome in my house; but what I see to be the truth, I must
speak out; I flatter no man. I tell you, sir, that man is a
hypocrite. You'll find him out, if you're long enough with him.
I tell you, I wouldn't trust him as far as I could see him.
What right has he to speak so to me? Am I not the leader of
a great people? He, himself, will not blame me for speaking
the truth plainly.
||(Here kind expression passed on both sides, and we were rising
||"Don't be going gentlemen. Do take bread and salt with
us; our tea is on the table."
We staid, accordingly, and made up around his smoking and
well filled table.
I have been carefully, especially towards the close of this
talk, to give the words that were used, omitting nothing but
conversational by-play, and some of the filling up. The skeleton
is complete. So much for this man at his own fireside. D.
Quite possibly the above report so intrigued the Editor of the
Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette that he became determined to visit with
and interview Joseph Smith himself one day. Mr. David N. White,
that same editor, made a trip to Illinois in the summer of 1843
and took the opportunity to report upon the situation of Joseph
Smith at Nauvoo. His letter detailing that interview was printed
as "The Prairies, Nauvoo, Joe Smith, the Temple, the Mormons
&c." in the Weekly Gazette of Sept. 15, 1843.
Dale Broadhurst email@example.com