I Have Set by His Side


Footnote 31, ‘Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham’, LDS Gospel Topic Essay: 1

“31. John Whitmer, History, 1831–ca. 1837, 76, in Karen Lynn Davidson, Richard L. Jensen, and David J. Whittaker, eds., Histories, Volume 2: Assigned Historical Writings, 1831–1847, vol. 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2012), 86. “I have set by his side and penned down the translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphicks as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration of Heaven,” wrote Warren Parrish, Joseph Smith’s scribe. (Warren Parrish, Feb. 5, 1838, Letter to the editor, Painesville Republican, Feb. 15, 1838, [3].)”


Full ‘Letter to the editor, Painesville Republican, Feb. 15, 1838’, Warren Parrish: 2

“KIRTLAND, Feb. 5, 1838.


SIR: — I have taken the liberty to send you a synopsis of some of the leading features of the characters of Joseph Smith, Jr., and Sydney Rigdon, who are styled leaders of the Mormon Church, and if you are disposed, and think it would be of service to the public, you are at liberty to publish it. I have for several years past been a member of the Church of Latter day Saints, commonly called Mormon, belonging to the quorum of seventy High Priests, and an intimate acquaintance of Joseph Smith, Jr., and Sydney Rigdon, the modern Prophets, and have had an opportunity of ascertaining to as great an extent, perhaps the real characters of these men, as any other individual.

I have been Smith’s private Secretary, called to fill this high and responsible station by revelation which I wrote myself as it dropped from the lips of the Prophet, and although contrary to my natural inclinations, I submitted to it, fearing to disobey or treat lightly the commands of the Almighty. I have kept his Journal, and, like Baram [sic, Baruch?], the ancient scribe, have had the honor of writing the History of one of the Prophets. — I have attended him in the private Councils, in the secret chambers and in public exhibition. — I have performed a pilgrimage with him, (not to Mecca,) but to Missouri, a distance of 1000 miles, for the redemption of Zion, in company with about two hundred others, called the camp of Israel. When we arrived in Clay County adjoining Jackson County, Mo., in which Zion was located by revelation, and from which our brethren had been driven, we were informed through the Prophet that God had revealed to us that we need not cross over and fight as we had expected, but that God had accepted our sacrifice as he did that of Abraham, ours being equal to his when he offered up his Son. Therefore, we were sealed up unto eternal life in the name of Jesus Christ, as a reward for our suffering and obedience.

I have set by his side and penned down the translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphicks as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration of Heaven. I have listened to him with feelings of no ordinary kind, when he declared that the audible voice of God, instructed him to establish a Banking-Anti Banking institution, which like Aaron’s rod should swallow up all other Banks (the Bank of Monroe excepted,) and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.

I have been astonished to hear him declare that we had 60,000 Dollars in specie in our vaults, and $600,000 at our command, when we had not to exceed $6,000 and could not command any more; also that we had but about ten thousand Dollars of our bills in circulation, when he, as Cashier of the institution, knew that there was at least $150,000. Knowing their extreme poverty when they commenced this speculation, I have been not a little surprised to hear them assert that they were worth from three to four hundred thousand Dollars Cash, and in less than ninety days after, became insolvent without any change in their business affairs. But such has been the audacity of these boasting blasphemers, that they have assumed the authority to curse, or to bless, to damn, or to save, not only this Church but this entire generation, and that they hold their destinies in this world and that which is to come. And such has been their influence over this Church in this place, that they have filched the monies from their pockets and obtained their earthly substance for the purpose of establishing a Bank and various wild speculations, in order that they might aggrandize themselves and families, until they have reduced their followers to wretchedness and want.

For the year past their lives have been one continued scene of lying, deception, and fraud, and that too, in the name of God. But this I can account for in my own mind, having a knowledge of their private characters and sentiments, I believe them to be confirmed Infidels, who have not the fear of God before their eyes, notwithstanding their high pretensions to holiness, and frequent correspondence with the Angels of Heaven, and the revelations of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost.

What avails the claims of such men to holiness of heart, when their examples do violence to the system of morality, to say nothing about religion? What more favorable idea, can one entertain who has heard them say that man has no more agency than a wheelbarrow, and consequently is not accountable, and in the final end of all things no such principle will exist as sin.

This language, independent of many abominations that might be named, such as the Prophet’s fighting four pitched battles at fisticuff, within four years, one with his own natural brother, one with his brother-in-law, one with Ezra Thair, and one with a Baptist priest, speaks volumes.

Their management in this place has reduced society to a complete wreck. The recent outrage committed here, viz. the burning of the Printing establishment, I have no doubt was nothing more, nor less than carrying into effect Smith and Rigdon’s last revelation that they had before they took their leave of this place between two days — in fact the lying, fighting, stealing, running away, &c., that has carried on among us are only reducing their theory to practice, and in some instances they have not only taught the theory, but have set the example themselves.

And I am fully convinced that their precepts and examples, both in public and in private, are calculated to corrupt the morals of their votaries and cast a shade over their characters, which like the twilight of evening will soon settle into the gloom of midnight darkness; and had it not been arrested in its mad career, would have transmitted to succeeding generations, a system of hereditary tyranny, and spiritual despotism, unparalleled in the annals of the christian Church, the Church of Rome not excepted. But they have fled in the night; “they love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil; the wicked flee when no man pursuth.” — the printing establishment, book bindery, &c., was formerly the property of Smith and Rigdon; it had been sold the day previous to its being set on fire, by virtue of two executions obtained against them of one thousand dollars each, for issuing banking paper contrary to law.

The establishment had fallen into the hands of those who have of late remonstrated against the wickedness of the above-named individuals; and had it not been sacrificed upon the altar of reckless fanaticism, it would no doubt at this time have been speaking the truth, as an atonement for an ill-spent life; a well grounded conviction of this fact was evidently one reason why Smith and Rigdon obtained a revelation to abscond; and that the press must not at all hazards be suffered to be put in requisition against them; also that God would destroy this place by fire, for its wickedness against his Prophets, and that his servants are swift messengers of destruction, by whose hands he avenges himself upon his enemies; this accounts for the outrage.

This is but a preface to the catalogue of their iniquities that might be enumerated. But the most astonishing thing after all is, that men of common sense and common abilities, should be so completely blinded as to dispense entirely with the evidence of their senses, and tamely submit to be led by such men, and to contenance such glaring inconsistencies; and at the same time to be made to believe, that they had God for their author, and the happiness and well being of mankind for their end and aim. But the magic charm is broken at last; superstition and bigotry have begun to lose their influence and unclench their iron grasp from this devoted people who have “been led like lambs to the slaughter, and as a sheep is dumb before her shearers,” so have we not dared to open our mouths.

However justice seems to be in pursuit of the workers of iniquity; and sooner or later will overtake them: they will reap a just and sure retribution for their folly. This then is the conclusion of the whole matter; they lie by revelation, swindle by revelation, cheat and defraud by revelation, run away by revelation, and if they do not mend their ways, I fear that they will at last be damned by revelation.

M. [sic, W.] PARRISH. “



1 ‘Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham’, LDS Gospel Topic Essay – https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng
2 Letter to the editor, Painesville Republican, Feb. 15, 1838 – https://archive.org/details/PainesvilleRepublican02151838