Truthnet.orgMormonismApologeticsCultsPdf CatalogDVD'sContact Us
Mormonism Unvailed
1. Smith & Harris
2. Golden Bible
3. Book of Mormon
4. 1Nephi - 2Nephi
5. a. 2Nephi
    b. Jacob - Mosiah
6. Book of Alma
7. Remainder of Book
8. Rigdon Converted
9. In Kirtland
10. In Missouri
11. Spiritual Gifts
12. Missouri Problems
13. Mormon War I
14. Mormon War II
15. 1831 Ezra Booth Letters
16. Mormon Revelations
17.Hurlbut Affidavits,   Isaac Hale
18.  Anthon Affair
19.  Authorship of Solomon Spalding





Professor Charles Anton and Martin Harris

It is asserted in the Mormon Bible, that the engravings upon the plates, wrere in
the "Reformed Egyptian." In conformity to this, the Mormonite preachers, and
others of the sect, have frequently declared that the engravings upon the plates
were, by some of our learned men, who had a specimen shown them, pronounced
to be "reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics," or "ancient short hand Egyptian." --
Among others, Professor Anthon, of New York, was frequently mentioned as giving
such an opinion. This act of deception and falsehood is only one among hundreds
of others, equally gross, which are resorted to by these impostors
to gain proselytes. It being calculated to have considerable weight, when fully
believed, we took the liberty to inform Mr. Anthon of the vile use that was made
of his name, in this country; and to request of him a statement of the facts
respecting it. The following is his reply:
New York, Feb. 17, 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 pronouncd 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."
Everything, 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
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 of the
subject, since the Mormonite excitement began, and well remember
that the paper contained any thing else but "Egyptian
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
pre ssing 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 greates t 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.
Yours respectfully, CHAS. ANTHON.
E. D. Howe, Esq. Painesville, Ohio
That impostors made the declarations respecting Professor
Anthon, they will undoubtedly deny, as this is their uniform practice, after being
fully convinced of any act which militates against them; but in this case it will be
in vain. The following letter from Wm. W. Phelps, a very important personage
among them, (who was for a time denominated the Lord's printer) in answer to
some enquiries touching the origin of Mormonism, will show what was taught him
while a pupil under Smith and Rigdon, and that the story about Mr. Anthon's
declarations, was one upon which they placed great reliance. We give the letter
in full, for the purpose of further comments.
Canandaigua, Jun. 15, 1831
Dear Sir --
Yours of the 11th, is before me, but to give you a satisfactory
answer, is out of my power. To be sure, I am acquainted with a
number of the persons concerned in the publication, called "Book
of Mormon." -- Joseph Smith is a person of very limited abilities in
common learning -- but his knowledge of divine things, since the
appearance of his book, has astonished many. Mr. Harris, whose
name is in the book, is a wealthy farmer, but of small literary
acquirements; he is honest, and sincerely declares upon his soul's
salvation that the book is true, and was interpreted by Joseph
Smith, through a pair of silver spectacles, found with the plates.
The places where they dug for the plates, in Manchester, are to
be seen. When the plates were said to have been found, a copy
of one or two lines of the characters, were taken by Mr. Harris to
Utica, Albany and New York; at New York, they were shown to Dr.
Mitchell, and he referred to professor Anthon who translated
and declared them to be the ancient shorthand Egyptian. So much
is true. The family of Smiths is poor, and generally ignorant in
common learning.
I have read the book, and many others have, but we have nothing
by which we can positively detect it as an imposition,
nor have we any thing more than what I have stated and the book
itself, to show its genuineness. We doubt -- supposing, if it is
false, it will fall, and if of God, God will sustain it.
I had ten hours discourse with a man from your state, named
Sidney Rigdon, a convert to its doctrines, and he declared it was
true, and he knew it by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was
again given to man in preparation for the millennium: he appeared
to be a man of talents, and sincere in his profession. Should any
new light be shed on the subject, I will apprise you. Respectfully,
E. D. Howe, Esq..
The author of the above letter is, perhaps, de serving of a little more notice.
Before the rise of Mormonism, he was an avowed infidel; having remarkable
propensity for fame and eminence, he was supercilious, haughty and egotistical.
His great ambition was to embark in some speculation where he could shine
pre-eminent. He took an active part for several years in the political contests of
New York, and made no little display as an editor of a partizan newspaper, and
after being foiled in his desires to become a candidate for Lt. Governor of that
state, his attention w suddenly diverted by the prospects which were held out
to him in the Gold Bible speculation. In this he was sure of becoming a great man,
and made the dupes believe he was master of fourteen different languages, of
which they frequently boasted.
But he soon found that the prophet would suffer no growing rivalships, whose
sagacity he had not well calculated, until he was met by a revelation, which
informed him that he could rise no higher than a printer: "Let my servant William
stand in the office which I have appointed him, and receive his inheritance in the
land, and also he hath need to repent, for I the Lord (Jo) am not pleased with
him, for he seeketh to exult." It will be [seen] by the
foregoing letter, that he had already made up his mind to embrace Mormonism,
but still wished to conceal his ambitions. It was not till about six months after
that he had made definite arrangements to join them; by first fully understanding
what his business was to be. After being created an Elder and Lord's printer, he
repaired to Missouri with the squad that first went out, and on his return called
on us to "acknowledge his gratitude," as he expressed it, for first directing his
attention to Mormonism, saying that he knew nothing about it, till the receipt of
our letter -- that he then commenced an investigation of the subject, "and found
it to be true"! stating that he had ,made great sacrifices, and abandoned a
business worth $2500 a year. We mention these things to show the hypocrisy of
the man.
His letter it will be seen is dated the 15th Jan. in answer to ours of the 11th, only
four days intervening. During these four days, then, our letter must have traveled
over 360 miles, he talked with Rigdon ten hours, examined the holes where Smith
had dug for money, and obtained all the other information which he
communicates. Besides it is a well known fact that, notwithstanding his large
income, he had been thrown into jail on a small debt, and offered to sell out his
printing establishment for one hundred and fifty dollars. For his honesty, however,
the prophet has left him to till the soil in Missouri, while the business of printing
has been transferred to Kirtland, Ohio, and placed under the direction of O.
The reader will already have observed, that a great variety of contradictory
stories were elated by the Smith family, before they had any fixed plan of
operation, repecting the finding of the plates, from which their book was
translated. One is, that after the plates were taken from
their hiding place by Jo, he again laid them down, looked into the hole, where he
saw a toad, which immediately transformed itself into a spirit, and gave him a
tremendous blow. Another is, that after he had got the plates, a spirit assaulted
him with the intention of getting them from his possession, and actually jerked
them out of his hands -- Jo, nothing daunted, in return seized them again, and
started to run, when his Satanic Majesty, (or the spirit) applied his foot to the
prophet's seat of honor, which raised him three or four feet from the ground. This
being the opening scene of Mormonism, we have represented the wonderful event
in our frontispiece. That the prophet has related a story of this kind, to some of
his "weak saints," we have no manner of doubt.
Here then is the finding of the plates, containing a new revelation from Heaven;
and the modus operandi may seem to the Mormon, truly wonderful, and in
character with that Being who upholds and sustains the Universe; but to the
rational mind it can excite no other emotion than contempt for his species. One
scene in the drama of disposing of the plates, we have also placed upon the same
cut -- being two of the most important events in the history of Mormonism. The
latter story was related by Lemon Copley, (who had been an elder of the
society, and was at the time for aught that appeared) under oath, before two
magistrates, of Painesville Township, on a trial where the prophet had sworn the
peace against one of his seceding brethren.
Mr. Copley testified, that after the Mormon brethren arrived here from
Susquehannah, one of them, by the name of Joseph Knight, related to him a
story as having been related to him by Joseph Smith, Jun. which excited some
curiousity in his mind, he determined to ask Joseph more particularly about it, on
the first opportunity. Not
long after it was confirmed to him by Joseph himself, who again related it in the
following manner: After he had had finished translating the Book of Mormon, he
again buried up the plates in the side of a mountain, by command of the Lord;
some time after this, he was going through a piece of woods, on a by-path, when
he discovered an old man dressed in ordinary gray apparel, sitting upon a log,
having in his hand or near by. a small box. On approaching him, he asked him
what he had in the box. To which the old man replied, that he had a MONKEY,
and for five coppers he might see it. Joseph answered, that he would not give a
cent to see a monkey, for he had seen a hundred of them. He then asked the old
man where he was going, who said he was going to Charzee. Joseph thenpassed
on, and not recollecting any such place in that part of the country, began to
ponder over the strange interview, and finally asked the Lord the meaning of it.
The Lord told him that the man he saw was MORONI, with the plates, and if he
had given him the five coppers, he might have got his plates again.
Here we have a story related by our modern prophet, to his followers, for no
other purpose, as we conceive, but to make his pretensions more "marvelous in
their eyes." A celebrated Mormon prophet, of ancient times, and one of modern
date, have an interview in the woods, and hold a conversation about a MONKEY;
one prophet of the Lord relating a falsehood to another!!!