Solomon Spalding

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Solomon Spalding (February 20, 1761 – October 20, 1816) was the author of the Manuscript Story,[1] a work of fiction about the lost civilization of the mound builders of North America. After Spalding's death, a number of individuals suggested that Manuscript Story was identical or similar to portions of the Book of Mormon, a scripture in the Latter Day Saint movement.

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Biography

Spalding was born in Ashford, Connecticut. He was a member of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. In 1782, he entered Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, graduating with the class of 1785.[2] In October 1787, he became an ordained Congregationalist preacher in Windham, Connecticut.

In 1795, Spalding married Matilda Sabin and opened a store with his brother Josiah in Cherry Valley, New York. In 1799, they moved the store to Richfield, New York. Around this time, Spalding bought a tract of land in and relocated to Conneaut, Ohio. While in Conneaut, Spalding began writing Manuscript Found. In 1812, due to the disruptions of the War of 1812, Spalding moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1814, he moved to Amity, Washington County, Pennsylvania, where he died two years later.

Spalding manuscript

In 1832, Latter Day Saint missionaries Samuel H. Smith and Orson Hyde visited Conneaut, Ohio, and preached from the Book of Mormon. Nehemiah King, a resident of Conneaut who knew Spalding when he lived there, felt that the Mormon text resembled the story written by Spalding years before. In 1833, Spalding's brother John and seven other residents of Conneaut signed affidavits stating that Spalding had written a manuscript, portions of which were identical to the Book of Mormon. These statements were published in E. D. Howe's 1834 book Mormonism Unvailed, in which the theory was presented that the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from this manuscript. Several years later, Spalding's widow and daughter, other residents of Conneaut, and residents of Amity, Pennsylvania also signed statements indicating that Spalding had authored a manuscript that was similar to the Book of Mormon.

Doctor Philastus Hurlbut obtained a manuscript through Spalding's widow, and showed it in public presentations in Kirtland, Ohio, in December 1833.[citation needed] Hurlbut then became embroiled in a legal dispute with Joseph Smith. Subsequently, Hurlbut delivered the documents he had collected to Howe. Howe was unable to find the alleged similarities with the Book of Mormon that were described in the statements and instead argued in Mormonism Unvailed (1834) that there must exist a second Spalding manuscript which was now lost. Howe concluded that Joseph Smith and Sidney Ridgon used the Spalding manuscript to produce the Book of Mormon for the purpose of making money.[3]

The text of "Manuscript Story" was published by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1885, and by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1886 and 1910.

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