An Exposure of Mormonism


Livesey, Richard Livesey, Richard

❮ Community

Livesey, Richard. An Exposure of Mormonism, being a statement of facts relating to the self-styled “Latter day Saints,” and the Origin of the Book of Mormon, 2–12. Preston: J. Livesey, 1838.


THE principal portions of the following pages are extracts from books and papers, which have been published in America, and are collected for the purpose of exhibiting in a comprehensive form, some important facts concerning the leaders of the Mormon sect, and the origin of the book of Mormon. The compiler having spent the principal part of the last seven years in the United States of America, and having returned home on a visit to his friends, and for the benefit of his health, was not a little surprised to find that those persons, who had produced so much excitement in some parts of America, on the subject of Mormonism, had found their way to his native country, and to his native village, (West Bradford, near Clitheroe.) As might be expected, nearly every person he conversed with, enquired of him concerning the emmissaries of the American or Mormonite sect. To those enquiries he furnished from memory such answers as he deemed sufficient to expose the imposture; not being aware at the time that he had with him any documents relating to it; afterwards, however, on looking over papers in his possession relating to another subject, he unexpectedly found amongst them, the extracts embodied in these pages, presenting facts which speak volumes, and which ought to satisfy every enquiring mind; facts which may be relied on, being substantiated by the most credible witnesses, and coming from the best authority; in several instances from men who have not only seen and heard, but felt, the withering influence of this base delusion. These facts refer principally to the character of the leaders of this imposture, the origin of the book of Mormon, the principal design of Smith and others in commencing and prosecuting their iniquitous scheme, and the practical operation of their theories in the Mormonite community.

When any system of religion is presented to us for our reception, and especially when it comes to us with the pretended sanction of the Deity, and professes to be the only way for man to become reconciled to his Maker; when it hangs the eternal destiny of the undying spirit upon its reception, and connects with the rejection of it, the anguish of the deathless worm and unquenchable fire, it is but reasonable that it should carry with it some evidence of its authenticity; such evidence has at least been given with regard to those revelations of our Maker’s will which we have received. We have the evidence of prophecy, of miracles, of purity of doctrine, and of, the holy examples, pious lives, and disinterested conduct of those who have been the chosen instruments of the Almighty, to convey to man the records of his will. Before we receive another book of revelation, it is but just that we ask for the evidence of its divinity. The book of Mormon is presented to us with the strongest pretensions to divine revelations, but without even the shadow of the evidence required. Upon the statements of this book, the Mormonite religion is based.

Those statements are represented to be “written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might [2] not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretations thereof sealed by the hand of Moroni and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of the Gentiles, the interpretation thereof by the gift of God.” Thus written and thus hid, as it is asserted, by the command of the Almighty, the book of Mormon is said to have been buried in the earth fifteen or sixteen centuries, after 1 which Joseph Smith, junior, representing himself as the servant of God, affirms that an angel appeared to him, and directed him to the place where the precious document was laid, and inspired him to interpret the same. At the close of the book of Mormon we find what is called “the testimony of the eleven witnesses,” who affirm that they had “seen and hefted;”∗ the plates from which it is pretended the book was translated: and, also, what is called “the testimony of three witnesses,” who affirm that “an angel of God came down from heaven, and brought and laid before” their “eyes the plates and the engraving thereon.”

On the testimony of these witnesses we are called upon to receive the pretended revelation. Now the first question to be settled is, are these persons credible witnesses?

That they are not, may be easily proved, passing by the fact that no less than five are of the name of Whitmer, and three of the name of Smith, besides the professed finder of the plates, which may well lead us to suppose that the whole matter is a collusive family concern; as also the still more impressive fact, that all the witnesses are interested parties, no person having seen the pretended plates, but some favoured members of the Mormonite sect, who are directly concerned in upholding the delusion, a circumstance which is calculated to throw the strongest discredit on their testimony; let us see what is the character of these witnesses, as given by persons who have had every opportunity of knowing the same from actual observation.

The first statement respecting them is extracted from a publication entitled, “Mormonism unveiled,” by E. D. Howe, printed at Painsville, Ohio, in 1834. In that publication are given the “testimonies of not less than EIGHTY different persons, all residents of Wayne and Ontario counties, New York, which prove, beyond the possibility of doubt or contradiction, that neither Joseph Smith, jr., nor any of his witnesses, are to be believed, and that Mormonism, from beginning to end, is a base delusion which does not leave its originators even the credit of honesty or good intentions in its propagation.

These witnesses are disinterested, respectable citizens of that state, many of whom have made solemn oath to the following facts, and their characters are sufficiently vouched for by magistrates of the counties where they live. Among many other things which might be named to the eternal dishonour of the authors of the Mormon delusion, may be noticed the following:—

1. That Joseph Smith, junior, and his family were, about the time he pretended to have discovered the book of Mormon, known as “fortune tellers” and “money diggers;” and that they often had recourse to tricks of juggling for the purpose of finding money which they said was hid in the earth.† [3]

2. That the said Smith, up to that time, and after, was known as a wicked man; that he was a cheat and a liar, and used profane language; that he was intemperate and quarrelsome.

3. That his own father-in-law never had any confidence in him, knowing the manner in which Smith commenced his imposture in getting out what he called the book of Mormon.

∗ Lifted

† There is a prevailing opinion among a certain class of individuals in America, that large sums of money where hid in the earth about the time of the American revolution; and that persons who use certain arts of juggling will be successful in finding them. Joseph Smith, junior, was a noted practitioner in those arts.


4. That Smith has, himself, confessed the cheat, and so has Martin Harris, one of his principal witnesses. Harris once said, “What if it is a lie? if you will let me alone, I will make money out of it.”

5. That Oliver Cowdery, another of the witnesses to Smith’s book, was not a man of good character before he joined Smith in the cheat of Mormonism.

6. That Smith and Martin Harris were in the habit of meeting together, often, just before the plates were said to be found, and, were familiarly known in the neighbourhood by the name of the “Gold Bible Company;” and they were regarded by the community, generally, as a lying, indolent set of fellows, in whom no confidence could be placed; and Joseph Smith, junior’s character for truth was so notoriously bad, that he could not be, and was not believed, when he was under oath.

7. The wife of Martin Harris testifies, that he is both a cruel man and a liar, he having beat her and turned her out of his house.

8. That Smith confessed his object in pretending to find the plates was to make money, saying, “when it is completed, my family will be placed on a level above the generality of mankind.”

Such are some of the facts, which are proved beyond the possibility of confutation, by the affidavits of respectable witnesses, persons who were well acquainted with Joseph Smith, jun., and his associates, both before and since the pretended discovery of his golden plates. And, perhaps, we cannot better close the investigation of this subject, than by quoting a specimen of those testimonies. It is numerously signed, as will be seen, and by persons well acquainted with the “author and proprietor” of the book of Mormon:— . . .[4] . . .

Having thus shewn that the testimony of the eleven witnesses respecting the origin of the book of Mormon, is utterly unworthy of credit, it may now be necessary to state who wrote it, and what was his object. In Mr. Howe’s publication already quoted, “it is proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the “book of Mormon” was originally written by one Solomon Spaulding, who was born in Ashford, Connecticut, in 1761. He graduated at Dartmouth College, and became a minister of the gospel, but afterwards left the ministry, and entered into business in Cherry Valley, New York, where he failed in 1809. He afterwards removed to Conneaut, Ohio, where, it was well known, at the time, that he was engaged in writing a novel, with the avails of which he expected to pay his debts. This work he called “The Manuscript Found,” and it purported to be an historical record of the first inhabitants of America, whom it represented as descendants from the ancient Jews.

The vanity of Spaulding led him often to speak of his book, and to read portions of it to numbers of persons, who testify, as may be seen in the work above named, that, with the exceptions of the quotations from Scripture, the book of Mormon reads very much like the novel of Spaulding, which they heard read in 1810. To the existence of such a manuscript, we have the testimony of Mr. John Spaulding, of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, a brother of the man who wrote it, and also, that of his wife. This fact is also proved by the testimony of Mr. Henry Lake, of Conneaut, Ohio, who was in business with S. Spaulding at the time he wrote that novel; Mr. John N. [5] Miller, of Springfield, Pennsylvania; Arron Wright, Oliver Smith, and Nahum Howard, of Conneaut, Ohio, and A. Cunningham, of Perry, Geauga Country, Ohio, testify to the same fact. Those witnesses inform us, that they well remember many of the names and incidents 3 mentioned in Spaulding’s manuscript, and they pronounce them the same as those found in the book of Mormon.

The existence of the above named “Manuscript Found,” is further proved by the testimony of S. Spaulding’s widow, who says, it was carried to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by her husband, in 1812, where he died soon after. It was put into the hands of a printer by the name of Lamdin, (who died in 1826,) with whom Sidney Rigdon was very intimate during his residence in that city. Rigdon obtained the manuscript from Lamdin, and after a few years spent in rewriting and altering it, it was ushered forth to the world by Joseph Smith, Jun., Rigdon, and others, as a revelation from God! Such was the origin of the “book of Mormon.””

From the above facts it appears that the names and incidents of the hidden revelation had experienced a resurrection, and taken up their residence in the novel of Spaulding, at least 15 years before J. Smith, Jun. received the visit of the angel, and learned where the record was laid.

Such being the history of the authors of the Mormon delusion, the origin of the Mormon book, and the circumstances of its introduction to the world, we next proceed to shew, what was the principal, if not the only object, in commencing the Mormonite speculation.

Although it might be difficult to ascertain this from the book of Mormon, it is not so from another book, which the authors of the imposture style “The Book of Doctrine and Covenants;” but which they take care not to put generally into the hands of even initiated members of their sect. The following extracts from this book may be found in a work entitled “Mormonism exposed and refuted” published by Messrs. Percy and Reed, No. 7, Theatre Alley, New York, and will shew fully the object of the originators of this delusion: . . .[6]


❮ Back