Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

bammer

Grant Palmer Supporters Unite!

Recommended Posts

All the evidence to my mind points to the 1823-24 revival, Smith just moved it back a few years.

So you didn't look at my post that started

"The following appeared in the Palmyra Register, dated Wednesday, 28 June 1820:"

If all of the evidence in your mind points to the 1823-1824 revival, then you clearly haven't read all of the evidence.

Scott

Share this post


Link to post
I found this online "Milton Backman has demonstrated that in the summer of 1819, Methodists held a significant conference in Vienna just a few miles from Joseph's home. The meeting was attended by more than a hundred ministers of the Methodist faith, including the Reverend George Lane. "

Vienna NY is nearly 100 miles from Manchester NY.  Is this what Backman considers close?

In my copy of Backman's Joseph Smith's First Vision, "Vienna, New York" doesn't occur in the index. However, "Vienna Road" does. The Vienna Road ran essentially to the southeast, from just north of Palmyra Village to Phelps Village (formerly called Vienna), which is roughly ten miles east of Manchester.

On pages 80-81, Dr. Backman discusses Methodist camp meetings held along the Vienna Road.

It probably isn't wise to rely too heavily on internet summaries of Professor Backman's position. He should be permitted to speak for himself.

I don't have his book, thanks for the correction.

I just looked it up on MapQuest and Vienna Rd. is still there connecting Phelps and Palmyra -- that's cool.

Share this post


Link to post

Walters on Backman's book,

"The book perpetuates the same errors and careless scholarship which Dr Backman evidenced in his article in the Studies. His sole basis for placing a revival at the town of Vienna (today called Phelps) in 1820 rests on the fact that Rev George Lane attended the Annual Conference of the Methodist Church (their annual business meeting) at Vienna in July 1819. While the preachers attending the meeting would likely be preaching in the area on the weekend, and possibly in the evening.(the session lasted all day for their business meeting), there is nothing that indicated they held a camp meeting there. A second item used bt Dr Backman to build his case is an appeal to a mimeographed history compiled in 1886 by the Pastor of the Vienna Methodist Church named Blackslee. He based his history on reminiscences of a negro named Sarsnet and the widow of a Methodist Preacher named Baker. The account of the spiritual awakening mentioned by these persons as having taken place at the camp meeting on the Grainger campground is what Dr backman appeals to and couples it with Turners statement that Smit caught asprk of Methodism at the camp meeting away down on the Vienna Road. Blakeslee's writing does not make it clear whether the two reminisences palce the camp meeting in the year 1820 or whether Blaklees himself fits the accounts into that year. Which ever way one wants to take the reference, one cannot correlate that item with the Turner item.

The only camp ground that we know of on the Vienna Road was the one just a mile outside of Palmyra. The Vienna Road which went out of Vienna some 15 miles away entered Vienna on the Northeast corner where it came to an end. The Granger campground was on the Old State Road (that ran from east and west through the village of Vienna) about a mile or two east of Vienna. So two different locations are in view. I checked with Mrs Oaks, who Backman cites for making the correlation, and she no longer believes here original idea to be correct. In fact she was the one that pointed out the error that appeared in her booklet relating the two. But aside from the location there is a more serious error in Dr Backman's handling of this matter. Dr Backman is so eager to have the revival talk place in 1820 that he does not read the Blakeslee item very carefully. Blakeslee places the camp meeting expeience in the CONFERENCE YEAR 1820, not in the calender year 1820. The conference year ran from July 1820 to July 1821. This is very evident from the context , since he cites as being on the circuit that year two men that were not appointed to the circuit until July 1820. (this can be easly seen by checking the Methodist Minutes for that and previous conference years. It is also evident from the membership figures he cites. The increase from about 350 to 650 members was reported at the July 1821 conference and covered the conference year running from July 1820 to July 1821. This is too late to help Smith's spring of 1820 story. the conference year that ran from July of 1819 to July 1820 showed a drop of 300 members over the previous year (droping from about 650 to 350). This is the period that should have been the greatest gain and growth. I think what happened was that there was a printing error for the Conference year 1819-1820 figures and because the following year restored the correct figures there appeared to be a substantial gain and Mr Blakeslee thought that was the point at which the camp meeting experienced occured.

I say this because in July 1820 Abner Chase was appointed the Presiding Elder over this district. In his report made in July 1824, he states most decidedly that "For two or three years we saw not great awakenings". Shall we take the official report of the man who was in charge of the district at that time, or the reconstructions of Blakeslee made over 60 years later? While I do not believe the reminiscences just because that are late are in error when it comes to a conflict between dating by reminiscence or by contemporary records, I'll choose the contemporary recod. Without this item it is difficult to come up with and kind of spiritual awakening near enough to have affected Smith (remember he has to see them fighting over who is going to receive the converts etc).

The map that Backman gives on p.87 is very misleading. Most of the towns have been moved in closer then they really are to Palmyra. Towns all around Palmyra which clearly had no spiritual awakenings are ommitted from the map. The town of Victor did not have a revival in 1820 21, but in 1830-31 (a typographical error the the County History Backman failed to catch) He counts both Phelps and Oaks corner, but the Presbyterian Church known as the Phelps Church was not located at Phelps, but at Oaks Corners, so he is really counting the same increase twice.(they gained about 20 members) The signs of revival at manchestot (in the BaptistChurch) had died out by the spring of 1819, so it is hardly right to include that( theygained 20 members). in short there is still no evidence of a revival in the neighborhood of Smith in 1820." (Walters, february 11, 1972)

Share this post


Link to post

The late Rev. Wesley Walters's unpublished private comments about Professor Backman's work are interesting, but shouldn't necessarily be taken as the final word. Such disagreements are common among writers on history, and it's far from inconceivable that Professor Backman might actually have something to say regarding these matters. (I didn't, by the way, see anything in Rev. Walters's remarks justifying the notion, let alone overtly saying, that Prof. Backman was "basically a dishonest man.")

I might mention here too that the Rev. Wesley Walters was a Protestant minister with a long-standing history of hostility toward the claims of Joseph Smith and Mormonism, so his position on this matter is hardly dispassionate. Prof. Milton Backman, Jr., is a trained professional historian (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania), who, incidentally, was given the 2003 Leonard J. Arrington Award for "distinguished and meritorious service to Mormon history" by the Mormon History Association. (And I point out, to fend off the obvious retort, that the award was formally handed to him by MHA president Lawrence Foster, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, a non-Mormon whose own writings have hardly been supportive of Joseph Smith's authenticity as a genuine prophet.) These facts don't prove Prof. Backman correct and Rev. Walters wrong, of course, but they do suggest caution before simplistically accepting the Rev. Walters's claims without inquiring to know what, if anything, Dr. Backman might have to say for himself, and they indicate some possible reasons to doubt noel00's dismissal of Professor Backman as "basically a dishonest man." Apparently, Dr. Backman's scholarly peers don't share noel00's assessment.

By the way, in Professor Backman's brief discussion of meetings on the Vienna Road, I see a great deal more than just a day-long business meeting in Vienna/Phelps. Drawing on a 1939 history of Phelps, and an 1886 history of Methodism in Phelps, Dr. Backman speaks of "special services" accompanying the multi-day conference of roughly one hundred Methodist ministers, as well as "camp meetings . . . following the deliberations," and reports, citing the 1886 history, that, "during the ensuing twelve months (from the summer of 1819 to the summer of 1820) a 'flaming spiritual advance' occurred in that region."

The map that Backman gives on p.87 is very misleading. Most of the towns have been moved in closer then they really are to Palmyra. Towns all around Palmyra which clearly had no spiritual awakenings are ommitted from the map.

I'm not sure I see why towns that are irrelevant to the issue should have cluttered up Professor Backman's very small and obviously schematic map.

In any event, I did a spot check of half a dozen of the towns on Dr. Backman's map, chosen largely though not entirely at random, and compared them to my Rand McNally atlas. Phelps/Vienna seems to be precisely right, as do Penfield, Lima, Auburn, Prattsburg, and Aurora. Perhaps my sample, though it represents a substantial proportion of the towns on the map, was merely amazingly lucky. Perhaps all of the others are wrong. Can noel00 possibly be more specific?

"in short there is still no evidence of a revival in the neighborhood of Smith in 1820." (Walters, february 11, 1972)"

But that simply seems to be untrue in view of the newspaper account, cited here on this thread, of the man who died from drinking in connection with a Methodist meeting near Joseph Smith's home in the spring of 1820. Even if Rev. Walters sincerely believed, back in early 1972, that there was "no evidence," we clearly know of contemporary evidence now.

All of which, of course, Peterson says very, very nastily.

Share this post


Link to post

To Clee,

Thank you for acepting new information without contention. It's nice to know that some people can still be honest seekers of truth despite their views.:-)

Share this post


Link to post
His sole basis for placing a revival at the town of Vienna (today called Phelps) in 1820 rests on the fact that Rev George Lane attended the Annual Conference of the Methodist Church (their annual business meeting) at Vienna in July 1819. While the preachers attending the meeting would likely be preaching in the area on the weekend, and possibly in the evening. (the session lasted all day for their business meeting), there is nothing that indicated they held a camp meeting there.

So we have the preachers there together, but they didn't do any preaching? Thats a little hard to believe. What evidence is there that they didn't do this?

But, OK......I suppose it is possible.

A second item used bt Dr Backman to build his case is an appeal to a mimeographed history compiled in 1886 by the Pastor of the Vienna Methodist Church named Blackslee.

So 66 years after the camp meetings, we have someone writing a history of the church that mentions camp meetings. The argument here is that there isn't persuasive evidence in this belated history that the camp meetings happened exactly at that time. But there is no evidence given that they didn't. But, now we know they did happen because of the Newspaper articles. So this argument becomes moot.

In his report made in July 1824, he states most decidedly that "For two or three years we saw not great awakenings".

All this tells us is the meetings were not very successful. We already knew that from the growth records.

The signs of revival at manchestot (in the BaptistChurch) had died out by the spring of 1819

So he admits that there were revivals that could be troubling Joseph Smith. 1819 is slightly before 1820 and still works in the first vision account.

in short there is still no evidence of a revival in the neighborhood of Smith in 1820." (Walters, february 11, 1972)

But his statement simply isn't true. He just said there were revivals up until 1819. He also leaves out this very important fact which seems to overshadow everything else that he says.

"The following appeared in the Palmyra Register, dated Wednesday, 28 June 1820:"

Those two Newspaper articles that appeared completely destroy all of his conjecture and supposing about what may or may not have happened. We have contemporary evidence, instead of conjecture based on 66 year old memories.

It did happen. It is in the newspaper. In addition to the 1820 revival, Walters himself admits there were meetings prior to 1820.

What other explanations are there? Time traveling? The Newspaper was in collusion with Smith? Ummmm.....I can't think of any others.

Scott

Share this post


Link to post
Guest Just Curious

Of course we have just totally glossed over the newspaper account saying "camp meeting". Joseph said revival....since for the unlearned there is a difference between a camp meeting and a revival we can continue to point out the inconsistency. Having grown up in the south where camp meetings and revivals are still held I cannot recall ever having heard once called the other and vice versa. Of course those unfamiliar with such things might easily be confused.

Share this post


Link to post
To Clee,

Thank you for acepting new information without contention. It's nice to know that some people can still be honest seekers of truth despite their views.:-)

I try to be open especially with the First Vision since it is the key issue with me.

I've added Backman's book to my aquire list.

Share this post


Link to post
I think u overrate Backman's research. I have a couple of letters where Wes Walters deals with Backman's book and considers him basically a dishonest man, especially in one footnote, and his map where he moves towns closer than they really are, counts one twice. If thats all Bushman has to rely on then he is up a creek. All the evidence to my mind points to the 1823-24 revival, Smith just moved it back a few years. Walters nailed Bushman in his Dialogue 1969 article and not bad for a man who did the research in his vacation time. When i am near my files I will reproduce his letters.

A BYU Studies article by Backman in 1969 can be downloaded for free. Just do an author search on Backman.

The reports of Walters scoring points against Backman in 1972 appear to be overstated. Backman had already brought to light the James Couser camp meeting.

How about a more recent example of critics undermining faithful Mormon historians such as Bushman? As it stands, I think Dr. Bushman has much more credibility than does Palmer. This was more or less the point of my initial response to BAMMER.

Share this post


Link to post

A question was asked earlier about the contents of Richard Bushman's next book on Joseph Smith. In an autographical piece here Dr. Bushman describes it as:

My front-burner project these days is a cultural biography of Joseph Smith, continuing the study I began in Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism. I am trying to locate Joseph Smith in the culture of his times by examining how the people around him thought about priesthood, temple, Israel, Zion, and the multiplicity of other topics associated with Mormon belief. I have been helped immensely by the Smith Institute Fellows who have been sifting through nineteenth-century materials for the past three summers and making entries in the Archive of Restoration Culture, a Smith Institute database.

It appears he will be attending various conferences next year in conjunction with his studies. See for instance MHA and JWHA. I hope a lot of other activity will go on when the book is released-- firesides, BYU devotionals, etc. If Sally Denton can get a CSPAN book show segment ...

Here's hoping it [Dr. Bushman's book] will become a bestseller among the LDS, surpassing the historical fiction books.

edit: added an important [clarification]

Share this post


Link to post

Just Curious: Of course we have just totally glossed over the newspaper account saying "camp meeting". Joseph said revival...."

Joseph Smith History (PofGP)

5 Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, "Lo, here!" and others, "Lo, there!" Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.

6 For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued

Share this post


Link to post
Of course we have just totally glossed over the newspaper account saying "camp meeting".  Joseph said revival....since for the unlearned there is a difference between a camp meeting and a revival  we can continue to point out the inconsistency.  Having grown up in the south where camp meetings and revivals are still held I cannot recall ever having heard once called the other and vice versa.  Of course those unfamiliar with such things might easily be confused.

Where did Joseph Smith use the term revival?

Share this post


Link to post

Daniel.

I won by one minute.

BB

Share this post


Link to post
Guest Just Curious
Just Curious: Of course we have just totally glossed over the newspaper account saying "camp meeting". Joseph said revival...."

I stand corrected. I was in error, I thought I had read where it said revival but do not see it...I was wrong...

Of course you never see an apologist admitting to be wrong...right Dan?

Share this post


Link to post

As long as we just tossing out accusations of dishonesty and unethical behavior....

If my memory serves me right, wasn't Walters accused of removing/stealing historical documents from various county collections at some point?

It sticks in my mind that several county recorders were a bit miffed with him for removing documents without permission.

C.I.

Share this post


Link to post
As long as we just tossing out accusations of dishonesty and unethical behavior....

If my memory serves me right, wasn't Walters accused of removing/stealing historical documents from various county collections at some point? 

It sticks in my mind that several county recorders were a bit miffed with him for removing documents without permission.

I've heard those accusations previously. I've been told that he once illicitly removed a document from a New York county courthouse in order to "protect" it from supposedly scheming Mormons, and that it took considerable time (coupled with mounting legal threats) to get it back. I don't know how much there is to these stories, but I've heard that certain local archivists, etc., considered the Rev. Walters persona non grata in their collections on the grounds that he had sticky fingers. I wasn't going to bring that up, despite noel00's groundless accusation that Dr. Backman is "basically a dishonest man," but, being the nasty fellow that I am, and now that the subject has been mentioned, why not?

Share this post


Link to post
I wasn't going to bring that up, despite noel00's groundless accusation that Dr. Backman is "basically a dishonest man," but, being the nasty fellow that I am, and now that the subject has been mentioned, why not?

What can I say Dan? I'm a criminal attorney. Mean and nasty is in my job description. And lest anyone whine that such information is irrelevant, I refer you to the rules of evidence:

Rule 608. Evidence of Character and Conduct of Witness.

(a) Opinion and reputation evidence of character. The credibility of a witness may be attacked or suported by evidence in the form of opinion or reputation, but subject to these limitations:

Share this post


Link to post
Just Curious: Of course we have just totally glossed over the newspaper account saying "camp meeting". Joseph said revival...."

I stand corrected. I was in error, I thought I had read where it said revival but do not see it...I was wrong...

Just C,

I wonder why you didn't bring up these two accounts as presented at the Elden Watson site:

1844: This personal account was penned by Alexander Neibaur, Joseph Smith's associate and Hebrew Teacher. On May 24, 1844 Mr. Neibaur was present at a meeting with Dr. Bernheisel, W.W.Phelps and Willard Richards when Joseph related some things about his initial vision, and Mr. Neibaur recorded his rembrances of what was said in his journal.

1844

Br. Joseph tolt us the first call he had a Revival Meeting

1850: This account was published by John Taylor in the Millennial Star some six years after the death of Joseph Smith. I [E. Watson]include it here both to complete the comparison matrix and because John Taylor said, "As near as possible I will give the words as he related them to me."

He said that "in the neighborhood in which he resided there was a religious revival, (a thing very common in that country)

But these accounts come to us second hand. The real mess is not created by 9-10 accounts that are more directly from Joseph Smith, but the accounts from William Smith and Lucy Smith. These accounts seem to have got the critics on the wrong track. William and Lucy confuse the chronology of Moroni's first visit and the First Vision. A reconcilliation of this is that Joseph didn't tell his family about the First Vision until much later and some of them never understood the sequence correctly.

So what is the difference between "camp meetings" and revivals? Do they share any common elements? Could either inspire the religious fervor and contention that Joseph reports?

Edit: the blue quotes from another page in the site

Share this post


Link to post

Just a common sense thing here: If there were no camp meetings, revivals or a general excitement about religion in the area, why didn't anyone say something about that at the time that Smith wrote it?

The PofGP account was written in 1838. At that time, there were members of the Church who had come from the Palmyra area. Surely they'd have know if what Jospeh was saying was false. Brigham and Phineus Young would have known. The Knights would have known. Surely if what Joseph said about the climate of the day were false, someone, even one of his enemies from Palmyra, would have mentioned it. But no one did. Doesn't that provide some evidence that Smith's description of the religious climate of the day is fairly accurate?

C.I.

Share this post


Link to post

So are there any known accounts of people in Joseph Smith's day claiming that Joseph Smith wasn't entirely forthcoming in his recollection as found in JS-H 1:5-6?

That is, were there people more or less blown away at that audacity of Joseph Smith to make up such preposterous claims of "unusual excitement on the subject of religion" in their time and region?

Share this post


Link to post

Once more Noel:

If Smith was lying about the religious atmosphere of the day, why didn't any of his contemporary critics point it out?

C.I.

Share this post


Link to post

Walters accounts of the 1826 trial documents:

"I was able to return to the jail in July the same year and with a friend along we began looking through the remaining material. My friend , Mr Poffarl was the one who discovered the package of 1826 Bills as well as the 1830 package. When I went through the material, sure enough there were the Bills by bothe constables and the Justices for the arrest and trial of joseph Smith. Had it not been late in the day, I suppose I would have acted differentlt. However we removed all the bills involved from the basement in order to copy tem.The Sherriff was away, the county historian was unavailable and had done nothing since May about removing the Neely apointment material to a dryer place.I had been given to understand that the County really did not want the materials and had offered them to the Historical Society; the Historical Society turned down because of lack of space; and the Sheriff considered them a nuiscance in his basement, so when my friend suggested that we maybe take them to Yale fro the sake of having them preserved(the 1826 materials were badly watersoaked and mildewed), at the time I agreed this might be the best procedure. Had I been doing it over again, I think I would have taken them over to the the County Office Building (even though it was about 5 minutes before closing time and insisted on a certified copy and tried to talk them into keeping them in their vault.However, what is done is done, and to Yale they went with my friend who hand-carried them to make sure that nothing happened to them. Meanwhile after repeated tried, I finanlly succeeded in contacting the county historian and informed her what we had done and that I would appreciate it if she would contact the persons in charge of the documents (who ever thet might be, it was not clear) and ask their permission to permantly house the materials at Yale with their excellant Mormon Collection. Their response was a letter demanding the materials back. I immediatley contacted Yale and the material was seent by registeredmail to me. I opened the package to make sure the documents were in the package, photographed the 1826 items in color, and while I was waiting the return of the prints I received a letter from a Mormon Scholar at Purdue, who intends to write his theses on the subject. Since I had to go to the University for "Dads Day" in a few days, and had not wrapped up the documents for shipment as yet, I phoned him and he was quite eager to meet me there and so I showed them to at least one mormon before returning them to the County where heaven only knowswhat will happen to them. Presently I understand they are being kept in the vault in the County Office Building, but since the Board of Supervisors has not yet decided what they are to do with them I have been unable to obtain certified copies. One lady ,a house-wife from the local historical society , told me she thought we had ruined any historical value, they might have , since we removed them without permission. I suppose some eager Mormon Scholar will pick this line of defence. .... So in the final analysis one must consult the documents themselves as to their authenticity, and to me they give every evidence of being geuine. (Walters 6 march 1972).

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...