Times and Seasons (, Hancock Co., IL), 15 July 1842, vol. 3, no. 18, pp. 847–862; edited by JS. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
The 15 July 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons was the tenth published under JS’s editorship. This issue featured correspondence from missionaries and various articles about the and the wider world. The contents covered a wide range of topics and included a letter from in Europe to his fellow members of the , an installment of the serialized “History of Joseph Smith,” an article about a destructive fire in , minutes from a held by missionaries in Utica, New York, and an article reprinted from the Boston Investigator reporting on a debate between Dr. George Montgomery West and in .
In addition to this, content created by the editorial staff for the issue included two articles, as well as a notice from the and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The first editorial article advocated theocracy as the ideal form of government, while the second—written after a lengthy excerpt from Josiah Priest’s book American Antiquities—used excerpts from the Book of Mormon to expand on Priest’s argument about an ancient people who had lived on the American continent. Although these editorials were each signed “Ed.,” for “Editor,” JS does not appear to have authored them, and his involvement in writing them is unclear. As the acknowledged editor of the paper, however, he would have taken responsibility for the editorial statements and presumably approved the content; such content is therefore featured here.
Note that only the editorial content created specifically for this issue of the Times and Seasons is annotated here. Articles reprinted from other papers, letters, conference minutes, and notices, are reproduced here but not annotated. Items that are stand-alone JS documents are annotated elsewhere; links are provided to these stand-alone documents.
a doer of God’s will, nor a fulfiller of his laws.
In regard to the building up of it has to be done by the counsel of Jehovah; by the revelations of heaven, and we should feel to say “if the Lord go not with us, carry us not up hence.” We would say to the saints that come here, we have laid the foundation for the gathering of God’s people to this place, and expect that when the saints do come they will be under the counsel of those that God has appointed. The are set apart to counsel the saints pertaining to this matter: and we expect that those who come here will send before them their wise men according to revelation; or if not practicable, be subject to the counsel that God has given or they cannot receive an inheritance among the saints, or be considered as God’s people; and they will be dealt with as transgressors of the laws of God; we are trying here to gird up our loins, and purge from our midst the workers of iniquity; and we hope that when our brethren arrive from abroad, they will assist us to roll forth this good work, and to accomplish this great design; that “Zion may be built up in righteousness; and all nations flock to her stan[d]ard;” that as God’s people, under his direction, and obedient to his law, we may grow up in righteousness, and truth; that when his purposes shall be accomplish[e]d, we may receive an inheritance among those that are sanctified.—Ed.
Another editorial in this issue followed excerpts from Josiah Priest’s American Antiquities and Discoveries in the West. Priest was a popular writer who compiled a variety of sources to argue that a pre-Columbian civilization in the American continent had Israelite origins. This was the second excerpt to be featured from Priest’s book during JS’s editorship of the paper. In the excerpt included in the 15 July 1842 issue, Priest quoted from the Antiquarian Society and referenced various idols found in Tennessee and Mississippi, along with jewelry and weapons made from copper, gold, and brass. The editorial commentary that followed the excerpts quoted from the Book of Mormon and cited the contemporary findings of explorers John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood to further substantiate Priest’s ideas. Concluding that these evidences established the existence of an ancient Israelite civilization, the editorial argued that the history of this ancient people could be found in the Book of Mormon.
Some have supposed that all the great works of the west, of which we have been treating, belong to our present race of Indians; but from continued wars with each other, have driven themselves from agricultural pursuits, and thinned away their numbers, to that degree, that the wild animals and fishes of the rivers, and wild fruit of the forests, were found sufficient to give them abundant support: on which account, they were reduced to savagism.
But this is answered by the Antiquarian Society, as follows: “Have our present race of Indians ever buried their dead in mounds by thousands? Were they acquainted with the uses of silver or copper? These metals curiously wrought have been found. Did the ancients of our Indians burn the bodies of distinguished chiefs, on funeral piles, and then raise a lofty tumulus over the urn containing their ashes? Did the Indians erect any thing like the “walled towns,” on Paint Creek? Did they ever dig such wells as are found at Marietta, Portsmouth, and above all, such as those in Paint Creek? Did they manufacture vessels from calcareous breccia, equal to any now made in Italy?
To this we respond, they never have: no, not even their traditions afford a glimpse of the existence of such things, as forts, tumuli, roads, wells, mounds, walls enclosing between one and two hundred, and even five hundred acres of land; some of them of stone, and others of earth, twenty feet in thickness, and exceeding high, are works requiring too much labor for Indians ever to have performed.
An idol found in a tumulus near Nashville, Tennessee, and now in the Museum of Mr. Clifford, of Lexington, is made of clay, peculiar for its fineness. With this clay was mixed a small portion of gypsum or plaster of Paris. This Idol was made to represent a man, in a state of nudity or nakedness, whose arms had been cut off close to the body, and whose nose and chin have been mutilated, with a fillet and cake upon its head.
Some years since a clay vessel was discovered, about twenty feet below the surface, in alluvial earth, in digging a well near Nashville, Tennessee, and was found standing on a rock, from whence a spring of water issued. This vessel was taken to Peale’s Museum, at . It contains about one gallon; was circular in its shape, with a flat bottom, from which it rises in a somewhat globose form, terminating at the summit with the figure of a female head; the place where the water was introduced, or poured out, was on the one side of it, nearly at the top of the globose part.
Another idol was, a few years since, dug up in Natchez, on the , on a piece of ground where, according to tradition, long before Europeans visited this country, stood an Indian temple.— This idol is of stone, and is nineteen inches in height, nine inches in width, and seven inches thich at the extremities.— On its breast, as represented on the plate of the idol, were five marks, which were evidently characters of some kind, resembling as supposed, the Persian; probably expressing, in the language of its authors, the name and supposed attributes of the senseless god of stone.
One of the arts known to the builders of Babel, was that of brick making; this art was also known to the people who built the works in the west. The knowl [p. 858]