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Eber D. Howe

"The editor who, more than any other, planted the seeds for Mormon persecution in Geauga County was Eber D. Howe, who was born in Saratoga County, New York, in 1798. Following the War of 1812, Howe was apprenticed to the publisher of the Buffalo Gazette. He later moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and helped extablish the Cleveland Herald in 1818. In 1822 he moved to Painesville, where he founded the Painesville Telegraph. He was editor of that paper (sometimes working alone, sometimes with the help of a partner) until January 1835." (Backman 1983, 53)

"The literary harassment reached its zenith in 1834 with the publication of Mormonism Unvailed [sic], an anthology that was the genesis of many later anti-Mormon works. A citizens committee sponsored this spurious collection, turning first to Doctor Philastus Hurlbut (Doctor was his given name), an ambitious convert and missionary to Pennsylvania who had been excommunicated for immorality and then turned to lecturing against the Church. Hurlbut's usefulness to the publications committee was weakened when a court in Chardon convicted him of threatening the Prophet's life, so the book was issued under Eber D. Howe's name. It contained a mixture of old and new charges against Joseph Smith's credibility and attempted to weaken the believability of the Book of Mormon by asserting a link with Solomon Spaulding's fanciful novel Manuscript Found, which told of Romans shipwrecked among the Indians in America. Joseph Smith, the theory suggested, was too unlearned to write the Book of Mormon himself, and so Sidney Rigdon wrote it for him by adding religious material to Spaulding's narrative novel. This theory was discredited early, even by anti-Mormon writers." (Allen & Leonard 1976, 70-71)

The first book written to "prove the `Book of Mormon' to be a work of fiction" and "completely divest Joseph Smith of all claims to the character of an honest man" was written and published by E. D. Howe in Painesville, Ohio as "Mormonism Unvailed." The full title from the title page is "Mormonism Unvailed: or, a faithful account of that singular imposition and DELUSION, from its rise to the present time. With sketches of the characters of its propagators, and a full detail of the manner in which the famous GOLDEN BIBLE was brought before the world. To which are added, enquiries into the probability that the historical part of the said bible was written by one Solomon Spalding, more than twenty years ago, and by him intended to have been published as a romance."

"The first 175 pages of Mormonism Unvailed included articles from the Painsville Telegraph describing the Book of Mormon and the early history of the Restoration movement. These articles were frequently cited without any reference to sources and without the use of quotation marks (not an uncommon practice in that period). The Ezra Booth letters, initially published in the Ohio Star, were then reproduced in the volume, followed by Hurlbut's affidavits concerning the Smith family. The last major section of the book included the eight affidavits designed to substantiate the theory that Sidney Rigdon had written the Book of Mormon, using Solomon Spaulding's romance novel as a principal source." (Backman 1983, 208)