Manufacturers and Farmers Journal and Providence and Pawtucket Advertiser - 25 Sep 1843

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THE MORMON PROPHET.—The editor of the Pittsburg Gazette has lately made a visit to Nauvoo, and thus describes Joe Smith, the Mormon Prophet:

The next morning, after breakfast, we paid a visit to the prophet. We were received in a common sitting room, very plainly furnished, where the prophet and the older members of the family had just been breakfasting, and his numerous children and dependants were then sitting at the table. He received us in quite a good-humored, friendly manner, asked us to sit down, and said he hoped for a better acquaintance. On the gentleman who accompanied me asking him how he prospered, he replied, "None can get ahead of me, and few can keep behind me." He seemed to think he had said something very witty, for he laughed very heartily. We spent about an hour conversing on various subjects, the prophet himself, with amazing volubility, occupying the most of the time, and his whole theme was himself. Let us give what turn we would to the conversation, he would adroitly bring it back to himself. The gentleman who accompanied me is a strong Whig, and as the Mormon vote had been given at the recent election to the Locofoco candidate for Congress, there by defeating Cyrus Walker, Esq., who had defended "Joe" in several law suits with the Missourians, the conversation took a political turn at first. "Joe" professed to be a great friend to Mr. Walker, and said he had voted for him, but would not interfere with his people in the matter.

He said he had never asked the Lord anything about politics; if he had done so, the Lord would have told him what to do. "The Lord," said he, "has promised to give us wisdom; and when I lack wisdom I ask the Lord, and he tells me, and if he did''nt tell me, I would say he was a liar. That''s the way I feel. But I never asked him anything about politics. I am a Whig, and I am a Clay man. I am made of clay, and I am tending to clay, and I am going to vote for Henry Clay; that''s the way I feel. (A laugh.) But I won''t interfere with my people religiously, to affect their votes, though I might to elect Clay, for he ought to be President. I have sworn by the eternal gods—it''s no harm to swear by the gods, because there is none—if there is only one God, there can''t be gods, and it''s no harm to swear by nothing—(a laugh)—I have sworn by the eternal gods that I never will vote for a democrat again, and I intend to swear my children, putting their hands under the thigh, as Abraham swore lsaac, that they will never vote a democratic ticket in all their generations. It is the meanest, lowest party in all creation.

There are five-sixths of my people so led away by the euphonious term ''democrat,'' that they will vote the locofoco ticket. I am a democrat myself. I am a Washington democrat, a Jefferson democrat, a Jackson democrat, and I voted for Harrison, and I am going to vote for Clay. The Locofocos are no democrats, but the meanest, lowest, most tyrannical beings in the world. They opposed me in Missouri, and took me prisoner, and were going to shoot me for treason, and I never had committed any treason whatever. I never had; anything bigger than a jack-knife about me, and they took me a prisoner of war, and had twenty men to guard me. I had nothing to do with fighting. Our men, six hundred strong, were in arms, under Col. Hinckle. When the Missourians came marching up, Col. Hinckle ordered us to retreat, when I lifted up my hand, and said, ''Boys, I think we won''t go yet; we''ll stand our ground, and they stood firm, but Col. Hinckle run like the devil. For doing this they charge me with treason."

In this manner the prophet ran on, talking incessantly. Speaking of revelations, he stated that when he was in a "quandary" he asked the Lord for a revelation, and when he could not get it, he "followed the dictates of his own judgment, which were as good as a revelation to him; but he never gave any thing to his people as revelation, unless it was a revelation, and the Lord did reveal himself to him." Running on in his voluble style, he said: "The world persecutes me, it has always persecuted me. The people at Carthage, in a public meeting lately, said, ''as for Joe, he''s a fool, but he''s got some smart men about him.'' I''m glad they give me so much credit. It is not every fool that has sense enough to get smart men about him. The Lord does reveal himself to me. I know it. He revealed himself first to me, when I was about fourteen years old, a mere boy. I will tell you about it. There was a reformation among the different religious denominations in the neighborhood where I lived, and I became serious, and was desirous to know what church to join.

While thinking of this matter, I opened the Testament promiscuously on these words, in James, Ask of the Lord, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. I just determined I''d ask him. I immediately went out into the woods where my father had a clearing, and went to the stump where I had stuck my axe when I had quit work, and I kneeled down and prayed, saying, O Lord, what church shall I join? Diiectly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage, and the first personage said to the second, Behold my beloved Son, hear him—I then addressed this second person saying, O Lord, what Church shall I join?

He replied, "don''t join any of them, they are all corrupt."1 The vision then vanished, and when I came to myself, I was sprawling on my back; and it was some time before my strength returned.

When I went home and told the people that I had a revelation, and that all the churches were corrupt, they persecuted me, and they have persecuted me ever since. They sought to put me down, but they hav''nt succeeded, and they can''t do it. When I have proved that I am right, and get all the world subdued under me, I think I shall deserve something. My revelations have proved true, because they have been delivered before they came to pass, and they came to pass exactly. I had a revelation in Missouri which was fulfilled to the letter. The Missourians had got us all prisoners, and were threatening to kill us. The principal men of us were lying under a log, with a guard standing around us. In the night I fell into a trance. I call it a trance. I heard a voice which said, Joseph, fear not, you and all your friends shall be delivered without harm, and shall yet stand upon the hills of Zion.

When I awoke out of the trance,2 I aroused Elder Rigdon, who was by the side of me, and said, I have a revelation—we shall all escape. Elder Rigdon shouted, and told it to the next one, and in the morning it was told to my family and all our friends, and they all rejoiced. That revelation came to pass, although they were holding a council at the time I had the trance, and had resolved to kill me. They can''t harm me. I told my family lately, before I left home for Dixon, that, if I was taken up, the Lord would deliver me—did''nt I Emma? (appealing to his wife, who was standing behind his chair, playing with his hair, and who answered in the affirmative,) —and when they took me I was passive in their hands, and the Lord compelled them to bring me right to Nauvoo. They could''nt help themselves, although they gnashed their teeth with rage.

Speaking oi the temple which he is erecting, he said, "I don''t know how the world will like it; it suits me; I have no book learning; I''m not capacitated to build according to the world; I know nothing about architecture, and all that, but it pleases me; that''s the way I feel."

A good deal of conversation of a similar character took place, the prophet occupying nearly the whole time, and talking of himself incessantly. Judging from his conversation, manner and appearance, I should think him a man of small capacity, smaller acquirements, and a dupe to his own impostures. His language is rude and vulgar, and his manner light and trifling. He is fond of his own jokes, and low wit, and laughs immoderately when he thinks he has said a good thing. He is a large, fleshy man, with a fine blue eye, large and sensual looking mouth and lips, with an evident predominance of the animal propensities.

It was surprising to see the awe with which his followers approached him, with hat in hand, contrasted with the cavalier and heartless style of his treatment of them. A poor man came to the door while we were there, and with evident trepidation addressed the prophet. He wished to obtain some information as to what he had best do with his family, having just arrived. "Had I better come into town and settle on one of the lots, or stay out on the prairie?" "If you are going to farm it, you had better stay on the prairie," was the reply of the prophet. "I wish to buy a piece of land, for which I will pay trade of various kinds to the amount of five hundred dollars; will you sell me some?"

"My lands are all good titles, and I must have the money for them," was the reply of the prophet, as he turned on his heel and left the man to reflect on the Christian politeness and courtesy of one whom he esteemed a prophet of the Lord, and to obey whom he had left his early home, and braved the hardships of a Western life. It is surprising that the conduct of the pretended prophet does not open the eyes of his poor deluded followers. But they seem to be perfectly blinded.— "Joe" is profane and vulgar in his conversation, and frequently gets drunk, and yet he is venerated as the favorite of Heaven, and his revelations put on par with divine writ.

 [Source: Manufacturers and Farmers Journal and Providence and Pawtucket Advertiser, 25 Sep 1843]

Footnotes

1. He was told more than that, he was told the true gospel would be revealed in The Holy Book of Mormon, which gospel Joseph abandoned.back
2. What happened to studying it out in your heart and mind?back