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An evangelical essay attempting to demonstrate that the American Indians are descendants of the lost ten tribes by comparing certain features of American Indian life and customs with Old Testament practices. Deals with Indians’ division into tribes, worship of Jehovah, nations of theocracy, belief in the ministration of angels, prophets and high priests, celebration of festivals, fasts, religious rites, daily sacrifices, ablutions, anointings, traditions concerning laws of uncleanliness, social relations, manner of curing the sick, burial of the dead,and raising up seed to a deceased brother. Some critics have suggested that Joseph Smith may have drawn upon this source in writing the Book of Mormon.
Solomon Spaulding was born at Ashford, Connecticut, on 21 February 1761. He served in the Revolutionary War, graduated from Dartmouth College, preached as an ordained evangelist, and was involved in several unsuccessful business ventures. He died at age fifty-five in October 1816 in Amity, Pennsylvania, nearly fourteen years before the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830. In about 1812, while living in New Salem (now Conneaut), Ohio, Spaulding wrote a fictional historical romance that he introduced as a translation from Latin of a portion of twenty-eight rolls of parchment he had found in a small cave near the remains of an ancient fort on the west bank of the Conneaut River. His novel has become known as “Manuscript Story” or “Manuscript Found.” It tells of a group of Romans in the days of Constantine (Roman emperor, A.D. 306–37) whose ship, blown off course by a fierce storm, carried them across the Atlantic Ocean to what is now the northeastern United States. The story contains an account of the history, wars, and religion of several groups of natives discovered by the Romans.
“The “Manuscript Found”: Manuscript Story” (1885)
Manuscript Found: The Complete Original “Spaulding Manuscript” (1996)
See also Orson Pratt’s Writings of an Apostle, edited by Jerry Burnett and Charles Pope, Tract #6. Salt Lake City: Mormon Heritage, 1976. A narrative of the visions of Joseph Smith, the discovery of gold plates, their translation by the use of the Urim and Thummim, and the Book of Mormon story. Contains also the testimony of the Eleven Witnesses.
Many see this work as the impetus for Joseph Smith’s writing the Book of Mormon. However, this work is theoretical, where the Book of Mormon is sacred narrative. This work theorizes that the ten tribes of Israel traversed the Bering Straits. Smith calls upon native American tradition and language to sustain his theory that they are descendants of the Hebrews.