Solomon Spaulding died in 1816, never knowing that some 14 years after his death, he would be linked to the Book of Mormon. A copy of Spaulding’s manuscript can be downloaded from Oberlin College. I posted a summary of chapters 1-5 last week, and gave a very brief introduction to the Spaulding Theory. Here is a brief summary of the contents of the rest of the book. Do you think this sounds remotely like the Book of Mormon?
Fabius reports that a group of people called the Ohons had an alphabet and wrote on parchment. “Their constitution & laws are committed to writing.” They loved to write poetry.
Spaulding discusses their religion. They believed in an omnipotent being “who is self-existent & infinitely good & benevolent.” This being formed 7 sons that “manage the affairs of his empire.”
“There is also another great intelligent Being who is self-existent & possessed of great power but not of Omnipotence. He is filled with infinite malice against the good Being & exerts all his subtlety & power to ruin his works.”
After death, “Material Bodies are prepared for the souls of the righteous….But the wicked are denied etherial bodies”. He goes on to describe some of their religious laws, telling them to be kind and not lustful, among many religious laws.
“it is ordained that on every eighth day, ye lay aside all unnecessary labour, that ye meet in convenient numbers & form assemblies, that at each assembly a learned holy man shall preside, who shall lead your devotions & explain this sacred Roll & give you such instruction as shall promote your happiness in this life & in the life to come. Once in three months ye shall hold a great festival in every great city & town, & your priests shall sacrifice an Elk as a token that your sins deserve punishment, but that the divine mercy hath banished them into shade of forgetfulness.”
Chapter 8 “An account of Baska”
A partial story of a man named Baska is told, “he was celebrated as a man of the most brilliant & extraordinary talents.”
Chapter 8 (yes labeled the same as above.)
Spaulding takes a break from the story “with a few sceches of Biography” and proceeds to tell of
“the great and illustrious Lobaska. He is the man who first introduced their present method of writing….
As for instance he is represented as forming a curious machine & having placed himself upon it he mounted into the Atmosphere & assended a great hight & having sailed a considerable distance thro’ the air he desended slowly & received no damage that multitudes of astonished Spectators had a number of times seen him perform this miraculous exploit.”
Lobaska was about 40 years old, affable, but not locquacious, and “none could withstand the energy of his reasoning.” He set up schools of “Schollars”, teaching them writing as well as making tools of iron. He lived among a group called the Siotans.
A man named Tobaska taught theology “comprised in the sacred Roll.” The king and chiefs allowed Tobaska to teach throughout the kingdom. The message revealed to Tobaska by “the second son of the great & good Being…..They forgot their old religion which was a confused medly of Idolitry & superstitious nonsense.”
However, war came because Bombal, King of the Kentucks “had taken great umbrage against Kadokam the King of Siota.” Kentucks had “exclusive right to wear in their caps a bunch of blue feathers” but the Siotan princes “assumed the liberty to place bunches of blue feathers upon their caps.” Spaulding discusses war strategy, noting that Lobaska had a cunning plan. After the battle, a peace treaty was signed that anyone could wear blue feathers.
Chapter 9 Government and Money
The people lived on both sides of the Ohio River, “Excepting the Cities of Golanga & Gamba, whose Kings claimed jurisdiction over an extent of country of about one hundred & fifty miles along the River Ohio…” Lobaska devised “a system of Government with a design of establishing two great Empires one on each side of the River Ohio.” The Sciotan constitution is described with “Emporer, Labamack the oldest son of Lobaska.” Government will pass to his eldest son, and they must marry within the Siotan kingdom. Money shall not depreciate. “Lambon the third son of Lobaska shall preside over them & shall have the title of high Priest…”
Chapter 10 – Military Arrangements, Amusements, Customs, & Extent of the Empires
The Sciota and Kentuck Indians believed that a strong military was the best deterrent. Both groups held military drills for soldiers 4 times per year, with a mock battle once per year.
Then Spaulding starts talking about courting rituals. Men and women wear different colors of feathers to show they are available. Once a couple has decided they like each other, they meet the parents and arrange to date 10 times within 60 days. If all goes well, a marriage follows.
The Sciota had a son (Elseon) and the Kentucks had a daughter (Lamesa) of marrying age. Their constitutions said that they were only to marry within the kingdom. However, an exception was made to allow them to marry. Some were not happy, and tried to disrupt the wedding, but finally Elseon and Lamesa were married in a traditional wedding.
Following their marriage, Elseon (of the Kentucks) and his bride Lamesa (of the Sciota) surreptitiously leave for the land of the Kentucks. Apparently this was not part of the bargain of the Sciota. They demanded that Lamesa return to Sciota, and said if she did not return, they would declare war on the Kentucks. (It was their understanding that that would remain in Sciota.) After much discussion, the Kentucks would not return Lamesa, but offered to give the Sciota something as reparations to avert war.
There are quite a few speeches from the leaders of the Sciota and Kentucks about how to handle the situation. The Sciota considered reparations, and asked for the death of Elseon. Of course, that was rejected, and so they made preparations for war. Lamesa and Elseon felt sad for starting the conflict, but declare their love for each other.
This is the last chapter, although it doesn’t appear to be finished. The war grinds on. There is so much death, at one point the two sides declare a two-day armistice so they can bury the dead. The leaders begin to work on different “stratigems” to win. They attack at night, assuming the other side is asleep. Once again, there is more death. They bury the dead in giant mounds of mass graves.
Sambul, king of Sciota attacks a fort and finds Lamesa. Cruelly, he kills a woman trying to protect Lamesa. Lamesa asks him to kill her too because she does not want to return. Then Elseon leads a counter-attack on the fort, and ends up fighting Sambul in hand to hand combat. Elseon kills Sambul with a sword, and frees everyone in the fort. The war appears to be winding down with the death of Sambul, but it is not clear how the story ends. The story ends abruptly,
Hamback altered his plan & determined to wait for the return of Sambul. As for Hamboon he concluded to wait until Elseons return. These determinations of the hostile Emporers prevented for the time any engagements between the two grand armies. But when the fate of Sambuls division was decided & Elseon had returned with the joyful news of his victory, the Kentucks were all anxious for an immediate Battle.
At this point, the story appears to be interrupted. To me, it appears to be Spaulding talking in his own voice, not of the book. I am only quoting a portion here (note ellipses below)–See the original manuscript for a full quote. There is a note on page 156 that says,
Note – This was found with the foregoing manuscript an in the same handwriting.
But having every reason to place the highest confidence in your friendship & prudence I have no reluctance in complying with with your request…..In giving you my sentiments of the Christian religion, you will perceive that I am not trameled with traditionary & vulgar prejudiuce that I do not believe certain parts & certain parts & certain propositions to be treu merely because that my ancestors believe them & because they are popular….But notwithstanding I disavow any belief in the divinity of the Bible, & consider it as a mere human production designed to inrich & agrandize its human production designed to inrich and agrandize its authors & to enable them to manage the multitude. Yet casting aside a considerable mass of rubbish & fanatical rant, I find that it contains a system of ethics or morals which cannot be excelled on account of their tendency to amiliorate the condition of man….having a view therefore to those parts of the Bible which are truly good & excellend I sometimes speak of it in terms of high commendation. And indeed I am inclined to believe that notwithstanding the mischeifs & injuries which have been produced by the bigoted zeal of fanatics & interested priests yet that such evils are more than counterbalances in a Christian land by the benefits which result to the great mass of the people by their believing that the Bible is of divine origin. & that it contains a revelation from God. Such being my view of the subject, I pre fer my candle to remain under to remain under a bushel, nor make no exertions to dissipate their happy delusion, as
Note to Copyist.–On the other side of the paper on which the above is written & in what seems the same hand is the following:
Itham Joyner privlg to erect Mill, & the pvlg of wtr. Wright has prefern & he next. To fix to take out wtr for himslf & to be at one 1/4 expense of keeping dam in repair. If wishing to sell to gv Wrt pvlg buing if dont buy to sel to another his works but not pvlg of wtr I. Joyner & W. Brigham agree to build a house for their use. Sd B. to 6 feet on the water below the width of the house & J to have for six feet & B to 12 feet on the same side in the rear bank & 12 feet of the garret. to be at equal expense in the water works. To be at equal expense in the partitions of the rooms.
The writings of Sollomon Spaulding Proved by Aron Wright Oliver Smith, John N Miller & others. The testimonies of the above Gentlemen are now in my possession.
D. P. Hurlbut.
To be fair, Hurlbut recognized that his manuscript bore little resemblance to the Book of Mormon, and kept it hidden. He later sold the manuscript to E.D. Howe, who also did not publish the document. In the 1880’s the document was discovered in Hawaii, and given to Oberlin College (in Ohio) after the RLDS church published it. In another post, I referenced some of the writing in greater detail, but it seems clear to me that the writing style is far different from the Book of Mormon. However, Stanford researchers used this document for a wordprint study to claim that this document as well as Sidney Rigdon’s writings bear remarkable resemblances to the Book of Mormon. BYU researchers posted a rebuttal, noting some serious flaws in the Stanford methodology. Now that you’ve read a “Cliff’s Notes” version of the manuscript, what are your opinions of the Spaulding Theory?