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Fooling the Prophet with the Kinderhook Plates
By Bill McKeever
On pages 374-6 of the Documentary History of the Church, (Vol. 5) facsimiles of "brass plates found near Kinderhook, in Pike county, Illinois, on April 23,  by Mr. Robert Wiley and others, while excavating a large mound" are displayed. According to the account, Wiley and others, "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." The plates were then given to Joseph Smith to translate. Though Smith described Wiley as a "respectable merchant" (p.374), he was unaware that Wiley was part of a conspiracy to expose Smith as a fraud.
The ruse was a success. Page 372 of the History of the Church (DHC) reads: "I [Joseph Smith] 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" (DHC 5:372).
In 1879, Wilbourn Fugate, one of the conspirators working with Wiley, admitted "that the plates were a humbug, gotten up by Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitton, and myself. Whitton (who was a blacksmith) cut the plates 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 rust." (New Witnesses for God, Vol.3, p.63).
LDS Seventy B.H. Roberts refused to believe it. Wrote Roberts, "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" (New Witnesses for God 3:64). Why the nine conspirators did not expose Smith earlier is a mystery, but the fact remains that Mr. Roberts was clearly misled into thinking his founder had indeed translated ancient plates.
According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (KINDERHOOK PLATES, 2:789,790), interest in the forged plates waned following Smith's death in 1844. "Decades later two of the alleged discoverers announced that the plates were a hoax; an attempt to discredit Smith. By then, however, the Church was headquartered in Utah and little attention was paid to these strange disclosures." The article continues by saying, "Interest was kindled again in 1920 when the Chicago Historical Society acquired what appeared to be one of the original Kinderhook plates. Later the Chicago plate was subjected to a number of nondestructive tests, with inconclusive results. Then in 1980, the Chicago Historical Society gave permission for destructive tests, which were done at Northwestern University. Examination by a scanning electron microscope, a scanning auger microprobe, and X-ray fluorescence analysis proved conclusively that the plate was one of the Kinderhook six; that it had been engraved, not etched; and that it was of nineteenth-century manufacture. There thus appears no reason to accept the Kinderhook plates as anything but a frontier hoax."
AN ACTUAL PICTURE OF ONE OF THE KINDERHOOK PLATES:
An abundant number of Mormon apologists have come to the aid of Joseph Smith in this matter. For instance, Diane Wirth, writing in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon (4: 210), actually goes so far as to try and discredit the DHC account by writing: "Joseph Smith’s supposed statement that the Kinderhook plates were authentic and that they were the "records of the descendants of Ham," came from the journal of William Clayton, who wrote in the first person, as though from the mouth of Joseph Smith. A first-person narrative was apparently a common practice of this time period when a biographical work was being compiled. Since such words were never penned by the Prophet, they cannot be uncritically accepted as his words or his opinion."
Wirth’s conclusion is incredible given the fact that many statements in the DHC are not from the mouth of Joseph Smith, even though it reads that way. Wirth’s comment also undermines the credibility of 10th President Joseph Fielding Smith, who wrote, "The most important history in the world is the history of our Church, and it is the most accurate history in all the world" (Doctrines of Salvation 2:199).
The Kinderhook Plate incident gives us a number of reasons to pause before accepting the prophetical calling of Joseph Smith and the validity of Mormonism. In a direct sense, it shows us that Smith was not a very discerning man. Apparently he was just as gullible as many of those who followed him. If men such as Wiley, etc. could hoodwink Smith, could an angel claiming to be a messenger from God not also deceive him? Even if we could excuse Smith's lack of discernment, it does not take away from the fact that Smith insisted he had the ability to "translate" the bogus pieces of metal. Whether Smith knowingly tried to deceive his followers or was deluded himself is of little consequence; certainly it shows he is not a man worthy of people's trust.
VIEW THIS QUICK VIDEO ABOUT THE KINDEHOOK PLATES
1 DNA testing has proven Native American Indians, Polynesians, and Aleutes (Eskimos) are from Asia, and not Israelites as the Book of Mormon says, thus proving it and Joseph Smith false.
2. The Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price is not a lost book of the Bible, but just a Pagan document called The Book of The Dead, thus proving Smith a false prophet.
3. Mormon temple rituals and other things were not the result of "divine revelations", but were simply plagiarized from Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
5. Joseph Smith falsely predicted that all Mormons alive in 1830 would live to See Christ return.
6. Joseph Smith could very well indeed have written The Book of Mormon (and did!).
7.Joseph Smith was not a humble pious man as Mormons claim, but was proud, power hungry, and practiced the occult!
Now, I think you see from these 7 things that Joseph Smith Jr. was a false prophet. I don’t
write these things to hurt anyone feelings, only that you will know the truth.
I know some of you say you feel the church is right. But every follower of Joseph Smith,
belonging to the other 150 sects, each claiming to be true and the others of Satan, also say
they have this same feeling. How can all of you be right?
If you’re reading this and thinking of becoming a Mormon, please reconsider. Mormons
will try to rush you through the conversion process as quickly as they can. When I was 13,
I joined to please my dad, and got out after a year. (I still dabbled in the occult off and on even as a Mormon) My first visit from the missionaries was on a Monday. I got baptized on Saturday.
On Sunday I was made a Deacon in the Priesthood of Aaron. All that was in just 6 days!
Don’t let anyone rush you.
If you’re a Mormon and you want to leave, they will tell you that you have to have a “trial” to be excommunicated. Sounds cult like, huh? The Mormons will try to brow beat you into staying.
You don’t have to go this “trial”, no one can make you, and they’ll have the trial without you.
Just write a letter and mail it to your branch or stake and be done with it. In the long run,
it’s better to be right than liked.
May The Peace of God that Surpasses All UnderstandingAnd here’s some recommended reading:
Be With You This Day and Always
Maze of Mormonism
The Book of Mormon and DNA