Joseph Smith's Account of the Kinderhook Plates, from the History of the Church, (edited by B.H. Roberts)
(Note that Joseph Smith not only took them as legitimate, and claimed to have translated some of them, but even cited this find as even yet more evidence for the Book of Mormon. Mormons now claim that Smith was never fooled by the hoax-EWF)
Monday, May, 1.-I rode out with Lucien Woodworth, and paid him £20 for the Nauvoo House, which I borrowed of William Allen.
I insert fac-similes 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.
I quote the following editorial from the Times and Seasons:-
Circumstances are daily transpiring which give additional testimony to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. A few years ago, although supported by indubitable, unimpeachable testimony, it was looked upon in the same light by the world in general, and by the religious world in particular, as the expedition of Columbus to this continent was by the different courts that he visited, and laid his project before. The literati looked upon his expedition as wild and visionary, they suspected very much the integrity of his pretensions, and looked upon him-to say the least-as a feel, for entertaining such wild and visionary views. The royal courts aided by geographers, thought it was impossible that another continent should or could exist; and they were assisted in their views by the learned clergy, who, to put the matter beyond all doubt, stated that it was contrary to Scripture; that the apostles preached to all the world, and that as they did not come to America, it was impossible that there should be any such place. Thus at variance with the opinions of the great, in opposition to science and religion, he set sail, and actually came to America; it was no dream, no fiction; but a solid [p.373] reality; and however unphilosophical and infidel the notion might be. men had to believe it; and it was soon found out that it would agree both with religion and philosophy.
So when the Book of Mormon first made its appearance among men, it was looked upon by many as a wild speculation, and that it was dangerous to the interest and happiness of the religious world. But when it was found to teach virtue, honesty, integrity, and pure religion, this objection was laid aside as being untenable.
We were then told that the inhabitants of this continent were and always had been a rude, barbarous race, uncouth, unlettered, and without civilization. But when they were told of the various relics that have been found indicative of civilization, intelligence, and learning, when they were told of the wealth, architecture, and splendor of ancient Mexico,- when recent developments proved beyond a doubt that there are ancient ruins in Central America, which, in point of magnificence, beauty, strength, and architectural design, vie with any of the most splendid ruins on the Asiatic Continent,-when they could trace the fine delineations of the sculptor's chisel on the beautiful statue, the mysterious hieroglyphic, and the unknown character, they began to believe that a wise, powerful, intelligent, and scientific race had inhabited this continent; but still it was improbable-nay almost impossible, notwithstanding the testimony of history to the contrary, that anything like plates could have been used anciently, particularly among this people.
The following letter and certificate will perhaps have a tendency to convince the sceptical that such things have been used and that even the obnoxious Book of Mormon may be true. And as the people in Columbus' day were obliged to believe that there was such a place as America, so will the people in this day be obliged to believe, however reluctantly, that there may have been such plates as those from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
Mr. Smith has had those plates, what his opinion concerning them is, we have not yet ascertained. The gentleman that owns them has taken them away, or we should have given a fac-simile of the plates and characters in this number. We are informed however, that he purposes returning with them for translation, if so, we may be able yet to furnish our readers with it.
It will be seen by the annexed statement of the Quincy Whig, that there are more dreamers and money-diggers than Joseph Smith in the world; and the worthy editor is obliged to acknowledge that this circumstance will go a good way to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. He further states that "if Joseph 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 living." We think that he has done that already in translating and publishing the Book of [p.374] Mormon, and would advise the gentleman and all interested to read for themselves and understand. We have no doubt, however, but Mr. Smith will be able to translate them.
To the Editor of the Times and Seasons.
On the 16th of April last, a respectable merchant, by the name of Robert Wiley, commenced digging in a large mound near this place; he excavated to the depth of ten feet and came to rock. About that time the rain began to fall, and he abandoned the work.
[p.375] On the 23rd, he and quite a number of the citizens, with myself, repaired to the mound; and after making ample opening, we found plenty of rock, the most of which appeared as though it had been strongly burned; and after removing full two feet of said rock, we found plenty of charcoal and ashes; also human bones that appeared as though they had been burned; and near the encephalon a bundle was found that consisted of six plates of brass of a bell shape, each having a hole near the small end, and a ring through them all, and clasped with two clasps. The rings and clasps appeared to be iron very much oxydated.
The [p.376] plates appeared first to be copper, and had the appearance of being covered with characters.
It was agreed by the company that I should cleanse the plates. Accordingly I took them to my house, washed them with soap and water and a woolen cloth; but, finding them not yet cleansed, I treated them with dilute sulphuric acid, which made them perfectly clean, on which it appeared that they were completely covered with hieroglyphics that none as yet have been able to read.
[p.377] Wishing that the world might know the hidden things as fast as they come to light, I was induced to state the facts, hoping that you would give it an insertion in your excellent paper; for we all feel anxious to know the true meaning of the plates, and publishing the facts might lead to the true translation.
They were found, I judged, more than twelve feet below the surface of the top of the mound.
I am, most respectfully, a citizen of Kinderhook,
W. P. HARRIS, M.D.
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