Response Page | Critics
Two books written by contemporaries of Joseph Smith
are Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, (1867) by Pomeroy Tucker and
History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, (1851)
by Orasmus Turner. These are better source documents than the affidavits
of Howe, because there words are not edited or possibly modified by a compiler.
These testimonies are also less damaging that the earlier affidavits, but
they still have their shortcomings.
"Tucker depicted superstitious and unscrupulous Smiths by merely
requoting the 1833 statements apparently without so much as reinterviewing
the Hurlbut contacts still alive. Tucker was aware of at least three of
these, named in his preface as references: Joseph Capron, Barton Stafford,
and WIllard Chase. Such sloppy methods were evidently not completely applauded.
A dozen years later Abagail Jackway told William H. Kelley, `I have heard
Willard Chase say Tucker never even asked him for what he knew, and Chase
lived next door to him, too.'" (Anderson
Hugh Nibley has given us the following analysis of Tucker. "Twenty-three
years after the death of Joseph Smith and thirty-seven years after Smith
had left Palmyra, a citizen of that town brings out a book telling most
intimately of the mind and doings of Smith at the time of the writing of
the Book of Mormon.
- 1) Now since the author of the book is an editor by profession, I find
it very strange that he should have waited so long to tell the public what
it had been clamoring to hear for decades.
- 2) He prefaces his book with a purely fanciful drawing depicting an
angel and devils as neither Smith nor his followers ever described them,
yet he labels the picture `Smith's account of the finding of the golden
plates.' Here is a plain fabrication.
- 3) Then he describes young Smith as a totally uninteresting tramp whose
every characteristic disgusts him¦and yet goes on to depict himself, an
ambitious and important young man, as spending his days observing Smith's
every move and receiving all his secret confidences.
- 4) He describes the Smith family as cynical and cunning, but makes
them the simple dupes of a pewter-coin joke that could not have fooled
the village idiot.
- 5) He describes them also as outspoken atheists constantly parading
their atheism in public; yet none of the public in question when requested
to think of all the bad things they could about the Smiths, ever mentioned
their atheism¦far from it, superstition was their charge.
- 6) While Tucker was intimate with the Smiths for some 14 years, he
tells none of the countless first-hand experiences that he should have
had with them, but instead offers as proof of their villainy their `subsequent
behavior,' which he did not observe.
- 7) Tucker tells of a wonderful cave, but can give no certain information
about it, though he lived very near to it for 42 years.
- 8) True, he insists that nobody was particularly interested in the
mysterious doings at the cave, but that only makes me more suspicious,
since the whole country was talking about Smith and his gold plates, it
is inconceivable that he, who took the pains to write a whole book about
Joseph Smith, simply wasn't interested enough in the cave to look it over
himself or have somebody else do it.
- 9) He has the lazy Smiths running a full-scale Army C.P. at the cave,
with extensive digging and construction work, changes of guard and all
the rest, on land that did not belong to them, but with never a word of
protest from anybody.
- 10) In fact he insists that no one opposed Smith's operations at any
time or had the slightest intention of harming him, even while reporting
the most vicious slanders and adding his own against the Smiths.
- 11) He describes Joseph Smith as brewing and executing one evil plot
after another, while he, a public-spirited man and witness to all this
depravity, raised no word of protest until forty years after.
- 12) Finally we have seen in the career of Tucker and his unguarded
expressions of passion what we think is ample indication of a motive and
will to malign the Smiths." (Nibley
1961, Myth Makers, 73-74)