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The Kinderhook Plates are six brass plates were created and brought to Joseph in order to catch the Prophet in deception. It worked. The prophet translated the pages and stated:
"I have seen 6 brass plates... covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth."
The translation proved that Joseph Smith was indeed a con-artist.
Taken from William Clayton's Journal, May 1, 1843, as cited in Trials of Discipleship - The Story of William Clayton, a Mormon, page 117)
| || The Kinderhook Plates Excerpt From Answering Mormon Scholars Vol. 2, Pages 118-123 By Jerald And Sandra Tanner |
Thursday, Jan 1, 2004, at 01:12 AM
Original Author(s): Jerald & Sandra Tanner
Topic: KINDERHOOK PLATES -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| THE KINDERHOOK PLATES: http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/kinderhookplates.htm
Excerpt from Answering Mormon Scholars Vol. 2, pages 118-123
by Jerald and Sandra Tanner
In his attack on our book, Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, Mormon professor William J. Hamblin tried to downplay our work on the Kinderhook plates:
"The Tanners relish in linking Joseph Smith with this early nineteenth-century forgery... This topic has been analyzed in detail, and it has been demonstrated that Joseph Smith was only mildly interested in the Kinderhook plates. Whatever the significance of this forgery for early Latter-day Saint history, it has absolutely no relevance for the modern study of Book of Mormon antiquities." (Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5. pages 269-270)
Dr. Hamblin is certainly not correct in his statement that Joseph Smith was only mildly interested in the Kinderhook plates. Smith was, in fact, extremely interested in them. He accepted these forged plates without question and even went so far as to "translate" a portion of the fake writing found on the plates. Later the perpetrators of the fraud confessed that the Kinderhook plates were modern forgeries created specifically for the purpose of entrapping Joseph Smith.
On May 1, 1843, the Mormon Church's own publication, Times and Seasons, reprinted an article which claimed that a "resident in Kinderhook" dreamed "three nights in succession" that in a mound near his home "there were treasures concealed." Ten or twelve men dug into the mound and "found SIX BRASS PLATES." The plates were later brought to Nauvoo. In a letter written from that city, dated May 2, 1843, Charlotte Haven said that when Joshua Moore "showed them to Joseph, the latter said that the figures or writing on them was similar to that in which the Book of Mormon was written, and if Mr. Moore could leave them, he thought that by the help of revelation he would be able to translate them." (Overland Monthly, Dec. 1890, page 630)
There is definite proof that Joseph Smim claimed he had translated a portion of the plates. The evidence comes from the diary of William Clayton, Joseph Smith's private secretary. Clayton wrote the following:
"I have seen 6 brass plates... covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth." (William Clayton's Journal, May 1, 1843, as cited in Trials of Discipleship - The Story of William Clayton, a Mormon, page 117)
The information in Clayton's journal was deemed so important that it was used as a basis for the story of the Kinderhook plates which is printed in the History of the Church. The following is attributed to Joseph Smith:
"I insert facsimiles of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook...
"I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth." (History of the Church, Vol. 5 page 372)
Since Clayton's journal was apparently used as the major source for the statement attributed to Joseph Smith in the History of the Church, it shows that the highest leaders of the church at the time the History was compiled believed that Joseph Smith did, in fact, "translate a portion" of the plates. It is evident that President Brigham Young and other church leaders seriously believed in Joseph Smith's work on the Kinderhook plates for at least eleven years after the plates were discovered.
In 1854, eleven years after Joseph Smith translated a portion of the plates, the account was written into the "Manuscript History of the Church." Book D-1. It is obvious that the Mormon leaders would never have added this material to the Manuscript History unless they thought it was true.
According to Dr. W. Wyl's book, a "Mormon elder" told him that in "1858" the Apostle Orson Pratt said that he "was well convinced the plates were a fraud." (Mormon Portraits, 1886, page 211) Nevertheless, the story became an important part of Joseph Smith's History of the Church, and is still found in that work!
On January 15, 1844, the Mormon publication, Times and Seasons, boasted that the Kinderhook plates helped prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon:
"Why does the circumstance of the plates recently found in a mound in Pike county, III., by Mr. Wiley, together with ethnology and a thousand other things, go to prove the Book of Mormon true? - Ans. Because it is true!" (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, page 406)
Significantly, over seven pages in the History of the Church are devoted to the Kinderhook plates. These pages not only contain the statement that Joseph Smith translated a portion of the plates but also drawings of the plates (see Vol. 5, pages 372-379)
At the time of the Civil War the Kinderhook plates were lost. Some time in the 1960s, however, M. Wilford Poulson, who taught at Brigham Young University told us that he found one of the original plates in the Chicago Historical Society Museum, but it was mislabeled as one of the original gold plates of the Book of Mormon. The plate that he found has been identified as no. 5 in the facsimiles found in the History of the Church. While Professor Poulson's research led him to believe that the plate was a forgery, in 1962 Welby W. Rides, who was President of the BYU Archaeological Society, hailed the discovery as a vindication of Joseph Smith's work.
In 1965, however, George M. Lawrence, a Mormon physicist, was given permission to examine and make "some non-destructive physical studies of the surviving plate." In his report Lawrence wrote: The dimensions, tolerances, composition and workmanship are consistent with the facilities of an 1843 blacksmith shop and with the fraud stories of the original participants."
Unfortunately, some Mormon scholars would not accept his work as conclusive. In 1980, however, the Mormon scholar Stanley P. Kimball was able "to secure permission" to have some experts make "some very sophisticated analytical" tests on the plate. Professor Kimball described the results of the tests in the official Mormon Church publication, The Ensign, August 1981, pp. 66-70:
"A recent electronic and chemical analysis of a metal plate... brought in 1843 to the Prophet Joseph Smith... appears to solve a previously unanswered question in Church history, helping to further evidence that the plate is what its producers later said it was - a nineteenth-century attempt to lure Joseph Smith into making a translation of ancient-looking characters that had been etched into the plates....
"As a result of these tests, we concluded that the plate... is not of ancient origin....the plate was etched with acid; and as Paul Cheesman and other scholars have pointed out, ancient inhabitants would probably have engraved the plates rather than etched them with acid. Secondly, we concluded that the plate was made from a true brass alloy (copper and zinc) typical of the mid-nineteenth century: whereas the 'brass' of ancient times was actually bronze, an alloy of copper and tin."
In The Mormon History Association Newsletter, June 1981, Stanley B. Kimball was quoted as saying:
"The time has come to admit that the Kinderhook Plate incident of 1843 was a light-hearted, heavy-handed, frontier-style prank, or 'joke' as the perpetrators themselves called it. That from the beginning anti-Mormons seized upon the incident to discredit Joseph Smith should not deter us from consigning the episode to the limbo of faked antiquities and to place forever the Kinderhook Plates on the bosom of the Cardiff Giant."
The implications of this matter are very serious indeed. As noted above, both the Clayton journal and the History of the Church claim that Joseph Smith "translated a portion" of the Kinderhook plates and found that they contain the history of "a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt..." Besides these references, there is other contemporary evidence that Joseph Smith "translated a portion" of the plates. On May 7, 1843, Apostle Parley P. Pratt wrote a letter containing the following:
" 'Six plates having the appearance of Brass have lately been dug out of the mound by a gentleman in Pike Co. Illinois. They are small and filled with engravings in Egyptian language and contain the genealogy of oneof the ancient Jaredite back to Ham the son of Noah" (The Ensign, August 1981, page 73)
The reader will notice that Apostle Pratt's account agrees with that published in the History of the Church in stating that the Kinderhook plates contain information about a descendant of "Ham."
If Joseph Smith had not been murdered in June, 1844, it is very possible he might have published a complete "translation" of these bogus plates. Just a month before his death, it was reported that he was "busy in translating them. The new work which Jo. is about to issue as a translation of these plates will be nothing more nor less than a sequel to the Book of Mormon..." (Warsaw Signal, May 22, 1844)
The fact that Joseph Smith was actually preparing a translation of the plates is verified by a broadside published by the Mormon newspaper, The Nauvoo Neighbor, in June, 1843. On this broadside, containing facsimiles of the plates, we find the following: "The contents of the plates, together with a Fac-simile of the same, will be published in the 'Times and Seasons,' as soon as the translation is completed."
One Mormon scholar has argued that the "brevity" of Joseph Smith's translation of the Kinderhook plates "precludes the possibility" that Joseph Smith's' abilities as a translator" might be "called into question." We cannot agree with this conclusion. Joseph Smith's work on these fraudulent plates casts serious doubt upon his ability as a translator of Mormon scriptures like the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham.
In order for Smith to derive as much information as he did from the Kinderhook plates it would have been necessary for him to have "translated" a significant number of words. The reader will remember that the History of fhe Church says that he translated "a portion of them." Since Joseph Smith made a false translation of both the Kinderhook plates and the Book of Abraham found in the Pearl of Great Price, it casts a serious shadow of doubt over his work on the Book of Mormon. James D. Bales made this perceptive observation regarding the importance of the Kinderhook episode:
"What does it all add up to? Does it merely mean that one of the 'finds' which the Latter Day Saints believed supported the Book of Mormon does not support it, and that there is no real blow dealt to the prophetship of Joseph Smith? Not at all, for as Charles A. Shook well observed - in a personal letter to the author - 'Only a bogus prophet translates bogus plates.' Where we can check up on Smith as a translator of plates, he is found guilty of deception. How can we trust him with reference to his claims about the Book of Mormon? If we cannot trust him where we can check him, we cannot trust him where we cannot check his translation... Smith tried to deceive people into thinking that he had translated some of the plates. The plates had no such message as Smith claimed that they had. Smith is thus shown to be willing to deceive people into thinking that he had the power to do something that could not be done." (The Book of Mormon? 1958, pages 98-99)
It is very clear from the evidence that we have presented that professor Hamblin was very far from the mark when he stated that "Joseph Smith was only mildly interested in the Kinderhook plates." The plates were, in fact, very important to Smith, and he obviously desired to use them to help validate his own Book of Mormon.
It seems very strange that Joseph Smith did not detect that he was being set up. As we mentioned above, the church's Times and Seasons reprinted an article from another paper concerning the matter. The article was taken from the Quincy Whig and contained information that should have tipped Joseph Smith off that he was falling into a trap. To begin with, the perpetrators had a story which was somewhat similar to the account of Smith's discovery of the gold plates. The reader may remember that before Joseph Smith found the plates, he had three visitations from the angel in one night. According to the article cited in the Mormon publication, Times and Seasons, a "young man by the name of Wiley, a resident in Kinderhook, dreamed three nights in succession, that in a certain mound in the vicinity, there was treasures concealed." (Times and Seasons, Vol. 4, page 186)
When the treasure diggers dug into the mound they "found SIX BRASS PLATES, secured and fastened together by two iron wires...'(Ibid., page 187) In 1842, Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon plates were "bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole." (History of the Church, Vol. 4, page 537) Although the Book of Mormon plates were supposedly made of gold, the text of the book itself frequently mentions that the Nephites also had "the plates of brass" (see 1 Nephi 3:12) which contained sacred writing. The Kinderhook forgers undoubtedly did not have access to any significant amount of gold, and even if they did have some gold they probably would not have trusted Joseph Smith with it. Consequently, they used brass plates to entice Smith to make a translation.
Like the Book of Mormon, the brass plates had "characters or hieroglyphics" on them which nobody was able to read. The article suggested that bones found in the mound might have belonged to "a person, or a family of distinction, in ages long gone by, and that these plates contain the history of the times, or of a people, that existed far - far beyond the memory of the present race." (Times and Seasons, vol. 4, page 187)
Not surprisingly, Joseph Smith agreed with the suggestion that the bones might have belonged to a person or persons of importance and that the writing contained a history of an ancient people that had become extinct. The reader will remember that he asserted that he translated a portion of the plates and found that "they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth." (History of the Church, Vol. 5 page 372)
This certainly fits with Joseph Smith's pattern of exaggerating the importance of things he encountered. Forexample, in Mormonism–Shadow or Reality? pages 1-2, we demonstrated that Smith claimed the hill within just a few miles of his house known to Mormons as the Hill Cumorah was no ordinary hill. On this very hill two of the greatest battles in history were fought. Both the Nephite and the Jaredite civilizations met their fate on this relatively small hill in New York. When the Mormons went to Missouri, Joseph Smith said that the Garden of Eden was there, and he also claimed to find the very altar on which Adam offered sacrifices! While traveling toward independence, Missouri, Joseph Smith discovered the "skeleton of a man." As noted earlier, this was no ordinary skeleton. It was revealed to Joseph Smith by "the spirit of the Almighty" that "the person whose skeleton" was before him was "Zelph," a "white Lamanite" and a "man of God," who was killed during the "last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites." (History of the Church, vol. 2, pp. 79-80)
In 1835, a man came to Kirtland, Ohio, with some mummies and Egyptian papyri. Joseph Smith purchased both the mummies and the papyri and made some startling statements about what he had obtained. Josiah Quincy, who visited Joseph Smith at Nauvoo, reported the following:
" 'And now come with me,' said the prophet 'and I will show you the curiosities.'... There were some pine presses fixed against the wall of the room. These receptacles Smith opened, and disclosed four human bodies, shrunken and black with age. 'These are mummies,' said the exhibitor. 'I want you to look at that little runt of a fellow over there. He was a great man in his day. Why, that was Pharaoh Necho, King of Egypt!' Some parchments inscribed with hieroglyphics were then offered us.... 'That is the handwriting of Abraham, the Father of the Faithful,' said the prophet. 'This is the autograph of Moses, and these lines were written by his brother Aaron. Here we have the earliest account of the Creation, from which Moses composed the First Book of Genesis.'... We were further assured that the prophet was the only mortal who could translate these mysterious writings, and that his power was given by direct inspiration.' (Figures of the Past, as cited in Among the Mormons, edited by William Mulder and Russell Mortensen, New York, 1958, pages 136- 137)
The reader will notice that Joseph Smith made the astounding claim that he found the very "handwriting of Abraham"on one of the papyrus documents. He claimed, in fact, that this document contained the Book of Abraham and that God gave him the power to translate it. This book is now accepted by the Mormons as scripture and is one of the four standard works of the church.
After his death the papyri were lost. Consequently, Egyptologists were not able to examine Smith's translation. In 1967, however, the church announced that the papyri had been rediscovered in Metropolitan Museum of Art. Not long after the papyri were brought to light a number of prominent Egyptologists examined them and found that they were all pagan documents which were buried with mummies.
One of the rolls of papyrus which Joseph Smith claimed was written by Joseph of Egypt was actually the Egyptian "Book of the Dead." The Egyptologist James Henry Breasted said that the Book of the Dead is "chiefly a book of magical charms." (Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, 1969, page 308)
Mormon writers have admitted that this is the case. On page 9 of the Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Hisroric Archaeology, Brigham Young University, March 1, 1968, we find this statement: "The Book of the Dead is a collection of ancient Egyptian funerary texts consisting of spells and incantations understood to assist the soul of the departed dead during his perilous journey through the afterlife. It would presumably be pagan in spirit and have nothing to do with any scripture written by Abraham."
The papyrus scroll Joseph Smith "translated" as the "Book of Abraham" turned out to be nothing but the Egyptian "Book of Breathings." The Book of Breathings is just a condensed version of the Book of the Dead. According to Egyptologists, the papyrus scroll Joseph Smith obtained was not written until near the time of Jesus Christ - about 2000 years after the time of Ahraham! This, of course, completely nullifies Joseph Smith's statement to Josiah Ouincy that the papyrus contained "the handwriting of Abraham." Interestingly, the same false claim appears in the introduction to "The Book of Abraham" which is found in the current printing of the Pearl of Great Price: "The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus."
While the names of at least fifteen Egyptian gods or goddesses are mentioned on the papyrus, Egyptologists have not found a word about either Abraham or his religion. For more information on the Book of Abraham see our book Mormonism–Shadow or Reality? pages 294-369-D.
Joseph Smith published his translation of the Book of Abraham in the Times and Seasons in 1842. Since the science of Egyptology was only in its infancy at that time, his detractors were unable to disprove Smith's claims concerning the Book of Abraham. As early as 1860, however, the Egyptologist T. Deveria did work with the very poor facsimiles printed in the Book of Abraham and discovered significant evidence that Joseph Smith did not have the slightest idea of what the Egyptian papyrus contained. It was not until 1957, however, that Egyptologists were able to see actual photographs of the papyrus. It was not long after that that they were able to demonstrate that Joseph Smith's purported translation was spurious.
It was about a year after the publication of the Book of Abraham that Joseph Smith began his "translation" of the Kinderhook plates. Although we do not know whether the author of the article in the Quincy Whig had any knowledge of the hoax to entrap Joseph Smith, it almost seems that there was a deliberate attempt to get the Mormon prophet interested in making a translation of the plates. In the Quincy Whig article cited in the Mormon publication, Times and Seasons, we find what appears to be an appeal to Joseph Smith's ego:
"Some pretend to say, that Smith the Mormon leader, has the ability to read them. If he has, he will confer a great favor on the public by removing the mystery which hangs over them. We learn there was a Mormon present when the plates were found, who it is said, leaped for joy at the discovery, and remarked that it would go to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon - which it undoubtedly will....
"The plates above alluded to, were exhibited in this city last week, and are now, we understand, in Nauvoo, subject to the inspection of the Mormon Prophet. The public curiosity is greatly excited, and if Smith can decipher the hieroglyphics on the plates, he will do more towards throwing light on the early history of this continent, than any man now living.' (Quincy Whig, as cited in Times and Seasons, Vol. 4, pages 186-187)
On June 30, 1879, W. Fugate wrote a letter in which he confessed the hoax: "I received your letter in regard to those plates, and I will say in answer that they are a humbug, gotten up by Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitten and myself....
"We read in Pratt's prophecy that 'Truth is yet to spring out of the earth.' We concluded to prove the prophecy by way of a joke. We soon made our plans and executed them. Bridge Whitton cut them out... Wiley and I made the hieroglyphics by making impressions on beeswax and filling them with acid and putting it on the plates." (The Kinderhook Plates, by Welby W. Ricks, reprinted from the Improvement Era, Sept. 1962)
Whether or not the writer of the article in the Quincy Whig knew the plates had been forged, it is obvious that Joseph Smith fell for the bait, hook, line, and sinker. Since Joseph Smith did not know the difference between ancient and modern brass plates, as the evidence clearly shows, and was oblivious to the fact that the hieroglyphics were forged, we cannot have any confidence in his work. While the Mormon leaders are supposed to have special powers of discernment, Joseph Smith certainly did not demonstrate a capability to discern when he was being tricked. Even the present leader of the church, the prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, was taken in by Mark Hofmann's forgeries and actually bought some of these documents for the church! In one instance he paid Hofmann $15,000 for a forged letter which was purportedly written by the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. For a complete treatment of the Kinderhook affair see our book, Mormonism–Shadow or Reality? pages 111-115, 125G-125I.
Entire Reference Culled From : http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/kinderhookplates.htm
| The Ensign's article dismissed the passage in William Clayton's journal concerning Joseph's preliminary translation of the Kinderhook plates. It was claimed inthe Ensign's apologetic article that Clayton was merely passing on some idle gossip going around.
Well, Clayton was Joseph's personal secretary so it could be assumed that Clayton would check with Joseph on the matter. However if we look at the entry in Clayton's Journal it reads:
"[May 1, 1843, Monday.] A.M. at the Temple. At 10 m[arried] J[oseph] to L[ucy] W[alker]. "P.M. at president Josephs . . . I have seen 6 brass plates which were found in Adams County . . . President Joseph has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kindgom from the ruler of heaven and earth."
So on the very day that Clayton makes the entry he was with Joseph Smith both in the A.M. and the P.M. He also officiated at Joseph's secret, polygamous marriage to Lucy Walker. Clayton was without question an insider to the doings of Joseph Smith and specially on the day in question. To paraphrase Rodney Turner "it stretches credulity to the breaking point" to claim that Clayton was just spreading idle gossip that he had heard.
He is with Joseph both morning and evening and is shown the actual plates by Joseph Smith at Joseph Smith's house. Then he writes in his journal what Joseph has done concerning the plates. Are we to believe that this part was idle gossip that he was passing on? Are we to believe that he didn't ask Joseph about the alleged "gossip" he'd heard concerning the plates while Joseph was showing them to him?
Are we supposed to swallow that camel fed to us by the apologists who strain at gnats?
| Here is William Clayton's entry for May 1, 1843:
"A.M. at the Temple. At 10 m[arried] J[oseph] to L[ucy] W[alker]. P.m. at President Josephs . . . I have seen 6 brass plates which were found in Adams County by some persons who were digging in a mound. They found a skeleton about 6 feet from the surface of the earth which was 9 foot high. [At this point there is a tracing of a plate in the journal.] The plates were on the breast of the skeleton. This diagram shows the size of the plates being drawn on the edge of one of them. They are covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. President J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth."
Note the following. He spent the A.M. officiating in a secret plural-marriage ceremony which marries Joseph Smith to Lucy Walker. He then says that he spent the P.M. "at President Josephs." At this time Joseph Smith had possession of the plates. He then inserts a tracing of one of the plates which shows that he actually handled at least one of the actual Kinderhook plates.
This is not the record of someone who is repeating second-hand gossip. This is someone who was with Joseph Smith both A.M. and P.M. of the day in question. This was someone who was in Joseph Smith's closest confidence. He writes that Joseph has translated a portion of the plates (loins of Pharoah etc.) after handling the Plates at Joseph Smith's House with Joseph Smith. Are we to believe that Clayton and Joseph Smith didn't discuss the plates at this time? Are we to believe that Clayton didn't ask Joseph anything about the plates but later picked up some idle gossip in the street which he wrote down under his journal entry for this day the same day that he handled the actual plates with Joseph himself?
The "Joseph never fell for it" scenario stretches credulity to the breaking point. To swallow it one must be a TBM who will go to any lengths to preserve their testimony.
| I was reading the Stanley Kimball Ensign article about the Kinderhook plates when I realized something. (Sorry if this is a redundant point, it seems obvious now, but it was kind of a "haha - gotcha!" moment for me, so I wanted to share.)
First, he makes this statement:
"These accounts have generated much controversy for more than a hundred years since the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, the question being twofold: (1) are the Kinderhook plates authentic? and (2) did Joseph Smith attempt to translate them?"
Good questions. Kimball sets out to try and answer them.
He first establishes that the plates are in fact NOT authentic through various testing methods. Good, science at work. Thank you.
He then tries to establish that Joseph Smith never attempted to translate them. Honestly, this appeared to me to be a lot of hand waving and basically just saying that we're interpreting the documented account incorrectly - that it doesn't actually mean what it says.
And then I read this part:
"Since coming to public awareness in 1920, this plate has undergone a number of tests. For example, in 1953 it was examined by two engravers who made an affidavit stating that “to the best of our knowledge this Plate was engraved with a pointed instrument and not etched with acid”–a conclusion which contradicted the letters claiming the plates to be a hoax, and which therefore fueled the hopes of those who wanted the plates to be proven genuine."
"Fueled the hopes of those who wanted the plates to be proven genuine."
Why, may I ask, would anyone hope they were proven genuine IF JOSEPH NEVER ATTEMPTED TO TRANSLATE THEM?
The double standard was blatantly obvious to me. If testing showed the plates were of ancient origin, the Churches answer to the second question would have been the exact opposite: That Joseph DID attempt to translate the plates. They would have agreed entirely with the documented accounts! Kimball tried to treat these as two seperate questions, each with their own independant answer, but that isn't the case.
There is no way that Kimball or anyone else would have taken the position that Joseph did NOT try to translate the plates had testing shown the plates were of ancient origin.
| By Jerald And Sandra Tanner (taken from Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, Pages 25-31).
On May 1, 1843, the Times and Seasons reprinted the following from the Quincy Wig:
"A Mr. J Roberts, from Pike county, called upon us last Monday, with a written description of a discovery which was recently made near Kinderhook, in that county...
"It appeared that a young man by the name of Wiley, a resident in Kinderhook, dreamed three nights in succession, that in a certain mound in the vicinity, there was treasures concealed--Impressed with the strange occurrence of dreaming the same dream three nights in succession, he came to the conclusion, to satisfy his mind by digging into the mound... Finding it quite laborous, he invited others to assist him. Finally, a company of ten or twelve repaired to the mound, and assisted in digging out the shaft commenced by Wiley. After penetrating the mound about 11 feet, they came to a bed of limestone, that had apparently been subjected to the action of fire, they removed the stone, which were small and easy to handle, to the depth of two feet more, when they found SIX BRASS PLATES, secured and fastened together by two iron wires, but which were so decayed, that they readily crumbled to dust upon being handled. The plates were so completely covered with rust as almost to obliterate the characters inscribedupon them; but after undergoing a chemical process, the inscriptions were brought out plain and distinct...
"By whom these plates were deposited there must ever remain a secret, unless some one skilled in deciphering hieroglyphics, may be found to unravel the mystery. Some pretend to say, that Smith the Mormon leader, has the ability to read them. If he has, he will confer a great favor on the public by removing the mystery which hangs over them. We learn there was a Mormon present when the plates were found, who it is said, leaped for joy at the discovery, and remarked that it would go to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon--which it undoubtedly will...
"The plates above alluded to, were exhibited in this city last week, and are now, we understand, in Nauvoo, subject to the inspection of the Mormon Prophet. The public curiousity is greatly excited and if Smith can decipher the hieroglyphics on the plates, he will do more towards throwing light on the early history of this continent, than any man now living." (Times and Seasons, Vol.4, pp. 186- 187, 1843)
Below is a photograph of drawings which the Mormons made of the Kinderhook plates. We are showing only one side of each plate (see History of the Church, Vol. 5, pp.374-376)
In a letter written from Nauvoo, dated May 2, 1843, Charlotte Haven stated:
"We hear very frequently from our Quincy friends through Mr. Joshua Moore,... His last call on us was last Saturday and he brought with him half a dozen thin pieces of brass, apparently very old, in the form of a bell about five or six inches long. They had on them scratches that looked like symbolic characters. They were recently found, he said, in a mound a few miles below Quincy. When he showed them to Joseph, the latter said that the figures or writing on them was similar to that in which the Book of Mormon was written, and if Mr. Moore could leave them, he thought that by the help of revelation he would be able to translate them. So a sequel to that holy book may soon be expected." ("A Girl's Letters From Nauvoo," Overland Monthly, Dec. 1890, p. 630)
According to the History of the Church, Joseph Smith did accept these plates as authentic and even claimed to translate a portion of them:
"Monday, May, 1. -- ...I insert facsimiles of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook, in Pike county, Illinois, on April 23, by Mr. Robert Wiley and others, while excavating a large mound. They found a skeleton about six feet from the surface of the earth, which must have stood nine feet high. The plates were found on the breast of the skeleton and were covered on both sides with ancient characters.
"I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth." (History of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 372)
On January 15, 1844, this statement appeared in the Times and Seasons:
"Why does the circumstance of the pates recently found in a mound in Pike county, Ill., by Mr. Wiley together with ethmology and a thousand other things, go to prove the Book of Mormon true? -- Ans. Because it is true!" (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 406)
A number of the citizen of Kinderhook certified that the plates were taken from a mound by R. Wiley:
"We the citizens of Kinderhook, whose names are annexed do certify and declare that on the 23d April, 1843, while excavating a large mound, in this vicinity, Mr. R. Wiley took from said mound, six brass plates of a bell shape, covered with ancient characters. Said plates were very much oxidated--the bands and rings on said plates mouldered into dust on a slight pressure. The above described plates we have handed to Mr. Sharp for the purpose of taking them to Nauvoo.
ROB'T WILEY, W.P.HARRIS,
G.W.F. WARD, W. LONGNECKER,
FAYETTE GRUBB, IRA S. CURTIS,
GEO. DECKENSON, W. FUGATE,
(Times and Seasons, Vol. 4, p. 186, May 1, 1843)
Unfortunately for the Mormon position, it was later discovered that the plates were forgeries, made for the purpose of tricking Joseph Smith. W. Fugate, one of those who signed the certificate, wrote the following in a letter to James T. Cobb:
"Mound Station, Ill.
June 30, 1879
"I received your letter in regard to those plates, and will say in answer that they are a HUMBUG, gotten up by Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitton and myself. Whitton is dead. I do not know whether Wiley is or not. None of the nine persons who signed the certificate knew the secret, except, Wiley and I.
"We read in Pratt's prophecy that 'Truth is yet to spring out of the earth.' We concluded to prove the prophecy by way of a joke. We soon made our plans and executed them, Bridge Whitton cut them out of some pieces of copper; Wiley and I made the hieroglyphics by making impressions on beeswax and filling them with acid and putting it on the plates. When they were finished we put them together with rust made of nitric acid, old iron and lead , and bound them with a piece of hoop iron, covering them completely with the rust.
"Our plans worked admirably. A certain Sunday was appointed for the digging. The night before, Wiley went to the Mound where he had previously dug to the depth of about eight feet, there being a flat rock that sounded hollow beneath, and put them under it. On the following morning quite a number of citizens were there to assist in the search, there being two Mormon elders present (Marsh and Sharp). The rock was soon removed but some time elapsed before the plates were discovered. I finally picked them up and exclaimed, 'A piece of pot metal!' Fayette Grubb snatched them from me and struck them against the rock and they fell to pieces. Dr. Harris examined them and said they had hieroglyphics on them. He took acid and removed the rust and they were soon out on exhibition.
"Under this rock (which) was dome-like in appearance (and) about three feet in diameter, there were a few bones In the last stage of decomposition, also a few pieces of pottery and charcoal. There was no skeleton found. Sharp, the Mormon Elder, leaped and shouted for joy and said, Satan had appeared to him and told him not to go (to the diggings), it was a hoax of Fugate and Wiley's, but at a later hour the Lord appeared and told him to go, the treasure was there.
"The Mormons wanted to take the plates to Joe Smith, but we refused to let them go. Some time afterward a man assuming the name of Savage, of Quincy, borrowed the plates of Wiley to show to his literary friends there, and took them to Joe Smith. The same identical plates were returned to Wiley, who gave them to Professor McDowell, of St. Louis, for his Museum.
STATE OF ILLINOIS
BROWN COUNTY. ss
"W. Fugate, being first duly sworn, deposes and says that the above, letter, containing an account of the plates found near Kinderhook, is true and correct, to the best of his recollection.
"Subscribed and sworn to before me this 30th day of June, 1879.
"Jay Brown, J. P."
(The Kinderhook Plates, by Welby W. Ricks, reprinted from the Improvement Era, Sept.1962)
At the time of the Civil War the Kinderhook plates were lost. M. Wilford Poulson, a former teacher at the B.Y.U. and a student of early Mormon history, told us that he found one of the original Kinderhook plates in the Chicago Historical Society Museum, but it was mislabeled as one of the original gold plates of the Book of Mormon. The plate Mr, Poulson found has been identified as number 5 in the facsimiles found in the History of the Church. Except for an acid blotch on one side, the plate is in excellent condition. Mr. Poulson did a great deal of research concerning the Kinderhook plates and was convinced that they were made in the l840's as W. Fugate claimed.
Welby W. Ricks, who was President of the BYU Archaeologic Society, had another opinion concerning these plates, In September, 1962, he announced:
"A recent rediscover of one of the Kinderhook plates which was examined by Joseph Smith, Jun., reaffirms his prophetic calling and reveals the false statements made by one of the finders...
"The plates are now back in their original category of genuine.
"What scholars may learn from this ancient record in future years or what may be translated by divine power is an exciting thought to contemplate.
"This much remains. Joseph Smith, Jun., stands as a true prophet and translator of ancient records by divine means and all the world is invited to investigate the truth which has sprung out of the earth not only of the Kinderhook plates, but of the Book of Mormon as well."(The Kinderhook Plates, by Welby W. Ricks, reprinted from the Improvement Era, Sept. 1962)
Mr. Ricks based his conclusion on the fact that fact that "two non-LDS professional engravers" examined the plate and made an affidavit in which they stated that the plate "was engraved with a pointed instrument and not etched with acid." The reader will remember that W. Fugate claimed that the hieroglyphics were formed "by making impressions on beeswax and filling them with acid and putting it on the plates." Mr. Ricks feels that this contradiction is of such a nature that it invalidates Fugate's entire story. We cannot agree with Mr. Ricks concerning this matter, for there is additional evidence which proves that the plates were forgeries.
During, the summer of 1965 George M. Lawrence, a Mormon physicist, was given permission to examine and make some non-destructive physical studies of the surviving plate. Mr. Lawrence has kindly allowed us to quote from his study, which he has recently revised. In the Summary he states:
"The plate is not pure copper. It may be a low zinc brass or a bronze. The dimensions, tolerances, composition and workmanship are consistent with the facilities of an 1843 blacksmith shop and with the fraud stories of the original participants. The characteristics of the inscription grooves can be reproduced in great detail using the simple acid-wax technique, contrary to the judgement of the engravers." ("Report of a Physical Study of the Kinderhook Plate Number 5," by George M. Lawrence)
Mr. Lawrence even made his own etchings using beeswax and nitric acid:
"To make these etchings, I melted a thin layer of beeswax (paraffin is too brittle) onto a piece of brass, scratched 'inscriptions' in the wax with the point of a scriber and then etched the exposed metal with a few drops of concentrated nitric acid. The nitric acid tends to stay in drops because the wax is not wet by it. The amount of acid in one drop is enough to produce roughly the proper depth of groove under the drop. The grooves are quite variable in depth and width due to changes in wax depth, scratch point attitude, and time allowed for etching. However, after a few attempts to control the depth, I was able to make more uniform inscriptions than the actual ones." ("Report of a Physical Study of the Kinderhook Plate Number 5," page 2)
Although Mr. Lawrence found that "only the more regular of the grooves made by me are as smooth as the Kinderhook plate's," he found some interesting similarities between his etchings and those on the Kinderhook plate:
"Some other characteristics of the acid-beeswax process are: Rounded groove ends and bottoms. Soft copper gives less angular groove edges than harder metals such as yellow brass or steel. There is an absence of striations (scratches) along the length of the groove. There sometimes is an extra area of etching action when two lines join obliquely--caused by acid working under the narrow wedge of displaced wax between the two lines. Most grooves cross at exactly the same depth with no markings to show which groove was made last. The flatness of the metal is not disturbed in the neighborhood of the groove. Bubbles formed in the etching process form irregularities or lumps along the length of the groove. The size of these irregularities can be controlled somewhat by 'stirring' or diluting the acid.
"The above characteristics of this type of etching were found on the actual Kinderhook plate.
"The plate has, as 'trim,' long grooves along the side and bottom edge that could have been made by a sharp knife with some pressure. On these grooves the metal is deformed and traces can be seen on the reverse side. This is not true of the inscriptions though many are deeper than the knife marks. Attempts by me to reproduce the inscriptions by scratching were not successful." ("Report of a Physical Study of the Kinderhook Plate Number 5," pages 2-3)
Welby W. Ricks points out that W. Fugate said that the plates were made of copper, whereas it was originally claimed that the plates were of brass:
"...the original finders said the plates were of brass. Mr. Fugate said they were made up 'out of some pieces of copper." (The Kinderhook Plates, reprinted from Improvement Era, Sept., 1962)
While it is true that Mr. Fugate said the plates were made of copper in his affidavit, we feel that this would be an easy mistake to make and should not be used to invalidate the rest of his statement. It is interesting to note that even W. P. Harris, the man who cleaned the plates after they were discovered, stated that they at first appeared to be made of copper:
"The plates appeared first to be copper, and had the appearance of being covered with characters."(History of the Church, Vol, 5, pp.375-376)
George M, Lawrence gives this interesting information concerning the composition of the plate he examined:
"Because the plate was borrowed for non-destructive tests, no 'wet' chemical analysis or spectrographic analysis was made. Thus, the exact alloy of the plate is not yet known. However, the density and color of the plate and the results of an X-ray diffraction analysis put some useful bounds on its composition. The color is somewhere between that of bronze and ordinary yellow brass. (It is not surprising that the original accounts of the plate disagree as to whether it is brass or copper.) The specific gravity is 8.6 +/- 0. 1. The angles of 12 X-ray diffraction 'lines' show the atomic crystal structure to be face-centered cubic like copper but with an atom spacing l.27 +/- 0.16 per cent larger than copper. Such an increase in the average crystal size is typically caused by the solid solution of other metals in the copper. To be consistent with the measured amount of stretch, the alloy could be a 23% zinc -- 77% copper brass or an 8% tin -- 92% copper bronze or copper with similar percentages of several other metals--or a combination of them. The density is consistent with the 23% zinc brass (low brass) but not with the bronze alloy mentioned." ("Report of a Physical Study of the Kinderhook Plate Number 5," page 1)
Mr. Lawrence seems to feel, however, that the plate was buffed at the Historical Society, and he notes that "buffing darkens the color." Mr. Lawrence also states:
"A useful, definite, statement is that it is not the natural copper (99% pure) found in objects made by Indians of the Great Lakes Region."
The Mormon historian B. H. Roberts claimed that the fact that Mr. Fugate waited 36 years to tell that the plates were made as a joke Invalidates his story:
"Of this presentation of the matter it is only necessary to say that it is a little singular that Mr. Fugate alone out of the three said to be in collusion in perpetrating the fraud should disclose it, and that he should wait from 1843 to 1879--a period of thirty-six years-before doing so, when he and those said to be associated with him had such an excellent opportunity to expose the vain pretensions of the Prophet--if Fugate's tale be true--during his life time...The fact that Fugate's story was not told until thirty-six years after the event, and that he alone of all those who were connected with the event gives that version of it, is rather strong evidence that his story is the hoax, not the discovery of the plates, nor the engravings upon them." (The History of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 379, footnote)
Welby W. Ricks uses the same arguments as Roberts in an attempt to undermine the story:
"For thirty-six years the plates went undisputed, but in 1879, Mr. Wilbur Fugate, one of the men present at the time of the find, wrote a letter to Mr. James T. Cobb stating that the plates were a 'Humbug.'
"...of the witnesses to the find Mr. Fugate alone was the only one to declare the plates fraudulent. The others died without having said anything about a hoax or a joke... Mr. Fugate waited a suspiciously long time, thirty-six years to be exact, which was thirty-five years after the death of his prey, before declaring the plates a 'Humbug' when he could have done so within a few weeks after their discovery. Does this sound like a man who is anxiously waiting to catch something in a snare?" (The Kinderhook Plates, reprinted from the Improvement Era, Sept. 1962)
Actually, there is evidence that the hoax was exposed many years before Fugate made his affidavit and that least one other witness to the plates declared them a fraud. Dr. Wyle gives this information:
"Now just hear what was told me by a Mormon elder, an eye and ear witness: 'A 'class of elders,' eleven or twelve, of whom I was one, was assembled in the Endowment House in 1858. Apostle Orson Pratt told us that he had been reading a work in which an account was given of the Kinderhook Plates. An archeological society had heard of the plates and they wanted to get a reliable account of them. They sent down to Kinderhook, Ill., two men to investigate the matter. These men had been there for two or three weeks without result. At last they learnt the names of the parties concerned, and that the plates were made by a blacksmith; they were told so by the artist himself. Pratt told the 'class' that he was well convinced that the plates were a fraud.'" (Mormon Portraits, by Dr. W. Wyl, 1886, p. 211)
W. P. Harris was one of the nine witnesses to the plates, and he also made a separate statement telling how cleaned them, etc. (see History of the Church, Vol.5, pp.374-377). In 1855 (24 years before Fugate's affidavit) Harris wrote a letter in which he stated that the plates were not genuine and that Bridge Whitten already acknowledged his part in the hoax:
April 25, 1855
Dear Sir: Yours of the 4th of April came to hand on the 23rd. This thing is stale with me, although I have feelings and respect for the truth.
Some years since, I was present with a number at or near Kinderhook, and helped to dig at the time the plates were found that I think you allude to. Robert Wiley, then a merchant of that place, said that he had had a number of strange dreams (as I have learned) that there was something in the mounds near Kinderhook. If I recollect right, he began to dig on Saturday, and on Sunday the discovery was made. I was present with quite a crowd. The plates were found in the pit by Mr. Fayette Grubb. I washed and cleaned the plates and subsequently made an honest affidavit to the same.
But since that time, Bridge Whitten said to me that he cut and prepared the plates and he (B. Whitten) and R. Wiley engraved them themselves, and that there was nitric acid put upon them the night before that they were found to rust the iron ring and band. And that they were carried to the mound, rubbed in the dirt and carefully dropped into the pit where they were found.
'Wilbourn Fugit appeared to be the chief, with R. Wiley and B. Whitten. Fugit lives at Kinderhook and B. Whitten at Alton, Illinois, to both of which you can refer.
'Subsequently to my receiving your letter, I have seen Dr. P. M. Parker, M. D., that graduated at St. Louis, Mo., last winter. Dr. Parker says that R. Wiley graduated at the same place since the finding of the plates at the same school, and that Professor McDowell on Surgery has the plates at his office, and he (Dr. Parker) saw them there last winter.
'If it would be any satisfaction you will write to Dr. P. M. Parker, to Wilbourn Fugit and Bridge Whitten. Esq. W. Murray said that he had wrote you on the subject. What Esq. Murray says you may rely upon.
'I believe that I have stated all as far as I know that would be any satisfaction to you, so with much esteem I remain, Fraternally Yours, W. P. Harris.
'Mr. W. C. Flagg,
'P. S. Mr. Fugit, Mr. Whitten and I are all of us belonging to one order that ought to bear witness to the truth. If anything should transpire that you would wish to hear from me again (an old man rising of sixty) please write me and I will cheerfully give you all the information that I can. It is a late hour and I have worked hard all day in my garden and my health is very poor. So I hope you will excuse. Yours Respectfully, W. P. H'" (Letter from the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 1912, Vol.5, No.2, pp.271-273, as quoted in The Book of Mormon?, by James D. Bales, pp 95-96)
Thus we see that Mr. Fugate was not the only one who exposed the hoax. At least 24 years before Fugate made his affidavit one of the witnesses had stated that it was a hoax.
B. H. Roberts asks why they did not disclose the hoax during Joseph Smith's life time. The reasonable answer is that they were waiting for Joseph Smith to translate the plates, but he was murdered about one year after the plates were found and never published a translation. The statement that he had "translated a portion of them" and found them to contain a history of a "descendant of Ham" was not published until after the Mormons came to Utah.
Even B. H. Roberts had to admit that Joseph Smith's statement that "the find was genuine, and that he had translated some of the characters may not have been known at the time to the alleged conspiritors to deceive him..." (History of the Church, Vol. 5, p.379) They were obviously waiting for Joseph Smith to produce another book of "scripture" from these plates. Fawn M. Brodie observed:
"Joseph stated in his journal that he 'translated a portion' and discovered it to be a history of the person whose bones lay in the mound, 'a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.'
"If the Kinderhook conspirators expected to see another Book of Abraham result from their deception, they were disappointed." (No Man Knows My History, by Fawn M. Brodie, New York, 1957, p. 291)
FALSIFICATION of HISTORY
In order to support the story of the Kinderhook plates Mormon historians have made at least two serious changes in Joseph Smith's History of the Church.
In his affidavit Mr. Fugate claimed that there were "two Mormon elders present (Marsh and Sharp)" at the time the plates were found, and that "Sharp, the Mormon Elder, leaped and shouted for joy..." The fact that at least one Mormon was present and that he leaped for joy was printed in the Times and Seasons--a Mormon publication:
"WE LEARN THERE WAS A MORMON present when the plates were found, WHO IT IS SAID, LEAPED FOR JOY AT THE DISCOVERY, and remarked that it would go to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon--which it undoubtedly will. " (Times and Seasons, Vol.4, p.187)
Evidently Mormon historians could see that the fact that a Mormon was present would cast doubt upon the authenticity of the discovery; therefore, when they reprinted this statement in Joseph Smith's History they falsified it so that no one would know that a Mormon was present or that he leaped for joy. In the History of the Church we read:
"A PERSON present when the plates were found remarked that it would go to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, which it undoubtedly will." (History of the Church, Vol. 5, p.378)
The original certificate by the witnesses included a statement about Mr. Sharp taking the plates to Nauvoo. Fugate says the Mormon elder who leaped and shouted for joy was named Sharp. In the Times and Seasons the end of the statement read:
"...said plates mouldered into dust on a slight pressure. The above described plates we have handed to Mr. Sharp for the purpose of taking them to Nauvoo
ROB'T WILEY, W.P.HARRIS,
G.W.F. WARD, W. LONGNECKER,
FAYETTE GRUBB, IRA S. CURTIS,
GEO. DECKENSON, W. FUGATE,
(Times and Seasons, Vol. 4, p. 186)
In the History of the Church the statement concerning Mr. Sharp taking the plates to Nauvoo has been entirely deleted without any indication:
"...said plates mouldered into dust on a slight pressure.
ROB'T WILEY, W. LONGNECKER, GEO. DECKENSON,
FAYETTE GRUBB, W. FUGATE, W.P.HARRIS,
G.W.F. WARD, J.R. SHARP, IRA S. CURTIS,"
(History of the Church, Vol.5, p.377)
The fact that Mormon historians had to falsify Joseph Smith's History to remove references to Nauvoo and Mormonism from the original accounts throws another shadow of doubt upon the authenticity of the story of the Kinderhook plates.
We feel that the work George M. Lawrence has done on the Kinderhook plate proves it to be a modern production. Although the ancient inhabitants of the New World were very skilled in working with metals (see Scientific American, April 1966, pp. 72-81), we do not feel that they could meet the close tolerances which Mr. Lawrence has found on the Kinderhook plate:
"The plate is about 2-7/8" high, weighs 0.621 oz and has an area of 4.66 sq. inches. The diameter of the hole in the top is 0.126" and is round within 0.001" The metal around the hole bulges, suggesting that the hole was punched.
"Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the plate upon visual examination is its good thickness uniformity and local surface flatness. The thickness of the plate was measured at about 50 points on the surface to an accuracy of 0.0002". The plate has a slight taper, thinning slightly toward the bottom. One may describe the thickness as 0 030" +/- 0.001 except for the last 1/4" of taper at the bottom, where the plate thins approximately 0.002"
"The metal of the plate is fine grained and homogeneous as are modern metals. It has no spring when flexed, like annealed copper. Except for scratches, the surface is smooth as if the plate had been rolled or round rather than hammered or cast. There is no evidence of corrosion except for the nickel-sized etch blotch on the 'reverse' side. This region is quite irregular, is about 0.01" deep, and cuts into the surface along a sharply defined boundary. The sharp edge is characteristic of acid attacking a greasy or waxy surface, whereas acid on a clean metal surface produces feathered edges.
"I conclude from the local flatness, the small thickness variation, the basic surface smoothness, and the taper, that the plate was cut from sheet which had been rolled, probably in a direction perpendicular to the length of the plate. The nominal size of the hole and thickness were perhaps 1/8" and 1/32", respectively." ("Report of a Physical Study of the Kinderhook Plate Number 5," page 2)
We do not feel that it would have been possible for an ancient inhabitant of America to have made a plate that is so flat, and we agree with Mr. Lawrence that the plate must have been cut from a rolled sheet of metal. Mr. Lawrence informs us that "Brass was first rolled in the U.S. in Connecticut in 1832." Notice that Mr. Lawrence finds the plate to be approximately .030 of an inch thick. This is only a thousandth or two off from 1/32". From this we conclude that the Kinderhook plates were cut from a standard sheet measuring 1/32 of an inch thick. Notice also the hole through the top of the plate measures .126 of an inch. This is only one thousandth over 1/8 of an inch.
George M. Lawrence has stated that "The dimensions, tolerances, composition and workmanship are consistent with the facilities of an 1843 blacksmith shop and with the fraud stories of the original participants." The evidence from the Kinderhook plate itself, then, indicates that it is a fraud.
James D. Bales gives this interesting information concerning the Kinderhook plates:
"The plates are referred to in the Fourth Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, p.247 as the work of a village blacksmith. F. S. Dellenbaugh referred to them as the work of an Illinois blacksmith and stated that they were a fraud. (The North Americans of Yesterday, p. 49)...
"James H. Breasted, Orientalist, Historian, Egyptologist, and Professor of Egyptology in the University of Chicago--from 1905 and a number of years thereafter--stated in a letter to R. B. Neal, on April 20, 1914 that the 'Kinderhook Plates are, of course, childish forgeries, as the scientific world has known for years.'...
"What does this all add up to? Does it merely mean that one of the 'finds' which the Latter Day Saints believed supported the Book of Mormon does not support it, and that there is no real blow dealt to the prophetship of Joseph Smith? Not at all, for as Charles A. Shook well observed--in a personal letter to the author--'Only a bogus prophet translates bogus plate.' Where we can check up on Smith as a translator of plates, he is found guilty of deception. How can we trust him with reference to his claims about the Book of Mormon? If we cannot trust him where we can check him, we cannot trust him where we cannot check his translations.
"Smith tried to deceive people into thinking that he had translated some of the plates. The plates had no such message as Smith claimed that they had. Smith is thus shown to be willing to deceive people into thinking that he had the power to do something that could not be done." (The Book of Mormon?, by James D. Bales, Old Paths Book Club, 1958, pp. 95, 97, 98 and 99)
Archived on the Mormon Curtain with p
| In the Book the Mound Builders that I am reading, there are notes every now and then about the Mormons.Here are a few quotes:
In speaking of a writer named Squier:
"Noting that not even the great Mexican civilizations had arrived at the use of writing, he points out that it would be unwise to credit the Mound Builders, who were less advanced, with such a skill. Most of the tablets, besides, are probably fakes, Squier remarks. He mentions six inscribed brass plates four inches long that had turned up in 1843 in a mound near Kinderhook, Illinois. They bore "ancient characters," said to resemble Chinese. With the nation in an uproar over the Mormons, the discovery of the plates won wide attention, but, Squier tells, "subsequent inquiry has shown that the plates were a harmless imposition, got up for local effect." The village blacksmith, taking his inspiration for the hieroglyphics from the lettering on the lid of a Chinese tea chest, had produced them."
further along the author states in regards to tales of two nations fighting till almost extinction by a "researcher" named Pidgeon:
"Lewis visited and surveyed other mound groups mentioned by Pdgeon in Wisconson and Iowa, and interviewed many old sttlers who remembered him. "I do not want to be understood as charging Mr. Pidgeon with a deliberate and intentional fabrication of arrangements and conformations of earthworks," Lewis declared. "But I have reason to know that it is not safe to quote his statements as authority." And he concluded emphatically, "The result of all my researches in this respect is to convince me that the Elk nation and its last prophet De-coo-dah are modern myths, which have never had any objective existence; and that consequently, the ancient history in the volume is of no more account than that of the Lost Tribes in the Book of Mormon."
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