In spite of the countless hours which the Spalding theorists have spent reinventing their case and frantically searching for the least hint of support (even more than 150 years after the events in question), they seem oblivious to various absurdities in their theory which destroy (individually and collectively) all credibility to the rational mind.
Because of these apparent absurdities, the theory wasn't taken seriously (except by those motivated by deep prejudice against the LDS faith) when it first immerged. In fact, so unconcerned were the members of Christ's restored gospel, that it took a number of years before they started responding substantively to the many allegations. It was only after years and reams of rumors and accusations, and time placing a distance between conjecture and reality, thus blurring the lines between fact and fiction, that some members felt a reasoned response was appropriate. Even today there are very few who give credence to the theory. I hesitated to give countering it much time for fear that it may falsely endow the theory with substance and merit--though I do wish to expose the theory for the fraud that it is, and thereby hopefully prevent others from wasting their time on it.
Here is a list of the absurdities that I am in the process of compiling (not including those that have already been pointed out in the other articles):
"But the grand assault on the Prophetick character
of Joseph Smith, is, that known as the SPAULDING story. This is to the
effect that the Rev. Solomon SPAULDING, of Conneaut, Ohio, in 1810, wrote a
book entitled, "Manuscript Found," giving a fictitious account of
the emigration of some Jews to America, and their wars, settlements and
national affairs, so as to account for the tumuli and other antiquities
about Conneaut; which manuscript afterwards fell into the hands of Sidney
Rigdon and Joseph Smith, and was by them reconstructed into the Book of
"The evidence offered to prove this, is, the certificates of seven witnesses, made in 1833, that they read and heard read the SPAULDING manuscript, in 1810 and 1811, and that, on the introduction of the Book of Mormon there, subsequent to 1830, when it was first published, they recognized it as the "Manuscript Found," of Solomon SPAULDING, with which they had been acquainted twenty-two years before.
"The inference from these facts is, that the Book of Mormon, instead of being translated from plates, was copied from the SPAULDING manuscript. Now, Conneaut is less than fifty miles from Kirtland, the gathering place to which the Saints began assembling in 1831. If the Book of Mormon was such an imposture, could the authors of the imposture, men who at least had the talent to succeed, have been guilty of the folly of gathering their disciples so near the scene of their imposture? It is incredible. A blunder would have got out of the way of so certain exposure. Men who make such blunders, are never successful impostors. The leaders had no need to go to Kirtland, before all the great west, that they should thus set down at the very gate of exposure and inevitable ruin.
"So great is the improbability that an impostor would do any such thing, that it could only be believed on the most overwhelming evidence. No motive can be imagined sufficient to induce any one to plagiarize a book, palm it off as an inspiration, build up a Church upon the imposture, and then transplant that Church bodily several hundred miles, and locate it only one day's travel, on one of the greatest thoroughfares of the continent, from where the imposture was as certain of detection as the sun to rise. Nor could this going to Kirtland possibly be attributed to accident, or necessity. Smith and Rigdon pressed it on their followers.
"The testimony of the witnesses ought to be read and judged, with a view to this exceeding improbability; and the genuineness of their certificates ought to be looked after with the suspicion engendered by the examination of the former set, accumulated by the same author." (JJ Strang, "Book of the Law of the Lord", Chapter 36, Pp. 255-256, as posted by Dale Broadhurst)
"The sum of the facts, therefore, is this: 1st. The testimony offered to prove that the Book of Mormon has any similarity to SPAULDING'S "Manuscript Found," is of the most doubtful character; quite as likely to be forged as genuine; and, if genuine, more likely to be false than true. 2d. The original, unmutilated "Manuscript Found," was in the hands of E. D. Howe, of Painesville, Ohio, in 1834, when he first published his History of Mormonism, and was by him suppressed, because there was no resemblance between it and the Book of Mormon. 3d. There is no evidence that Lambdin ever saw or heard of the SPAULDING manuscript. Patterson's testimony shows it improbable that he saw it; impossible that he copied it. 4th. If Lambdin had it, it is so improbable that Rigdon ever saw or heard of it, as to be next to a certainty that he did not. 5th. If Rigdon had it, it is impossible that he ever transferred it to Joseph Smith, or ever heard of him, until after the translation of the Book of Mormon. Complete as is this failure, every subsequent writer has, for want of any other means of attack, fallen back on this. But it is marvellous, how men in high standing have filled up with their own assertions every defect in the chain of evidence, and lopped off every contradiction and inconsistency; reserving to themselves as much of the lie as had the semblance of truth, and adding what was necessary to perfect the falsehood. (ibid., pp. 267-268, as posted by Dale Broadhurst)
"Equally absurd is the theory that Sidney Rigdon
wrote the Book of Mormon. While Joseph Smith was engaged in translating it,
Sidney Rigdon was associated with Mr. Alexander Campbell in founding the
sect of Disciples, or Christians, or, as they are now called, the
Campbellites. Nor did he know anything of either Joseph Smith or the Book of
Mormon until P. P. Pratt, who was formerly a member of the same sect as
himself, found him in Kirtland, Ohio, and presented him with a copy of it,
and instructed him in the new faith -- new faith? nay, the old faith,
restored again to earth. This was in the summer of 1830.
After the death of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon was ambitious to lead the Church, but was rejected by the Saints and became disaffected towards them, and was excommunicated. If he was the author of the Book of Mormon, why did he not in the days of his bitterness towards the Church expose the imposition? Moreover, Sidney Rigdon was a man of high scholarly attainments and consummate eloquence -- qualifications that would make him restive and unwilling to stand subordinate to an uncultured man like Joseph Smith, in such a movement as the establishment of what the world calls "Mormonism," unless he saw in that youth the power of God manifested, and knew that he was appointed to his place by the voice of God.
Again, his very scholarship is against the theory that he wrote the Book of Mormon. No man, anxious to shine in the literary world, would adopt the style of the Book of Mormon. No man, whose mind had been moulded by the influences, and especially the religious influences of the nineteenth century, could produce such a book. And while I maintain that no educated mind of modern days would or could produce such a book as this history of the Nephites, I believe all will agree on examining it, that it must have been equally, or even far more, beyond the power of Joseph Smith, reared as he was in the backwoods of the State of New York, unacquainted with the world or its history, to produce such a volume. The book is so complex in its construction, and yet so completely consistent throughout with the theory of its construction, that I believe all who make themselves familiar with it will say that Joseph Smith could not have written it. (B. H. Roberts, "A New Witness for God, part VIII The Contributor, UT, 1888-89, p. 19, as posted by Dale Broadhurst)
Last updated 7/15/01