Letter from George Gee, 30 December 1841
, Letter, , Allegheny Co., PA, to for the (including JS), , Hancock Co., IL, 30 Dec. 1841; handwriting presumably of ; three pages; Sidney Rigdon, Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal stamps, and dockets.Bifolium measuring 12½ × 7¾ inches (32 × 20 cm). The letter is inscribed on the first three pages in blue ink. The document was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, sealed with a red adhesive wafer, and postmarked; there is wafer residue on the verso of the second leaf. The letter was later refolded for filing.The document was docketed by , who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and served as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854. Another docket was inscribed by , who served as a clerk in the Church Historian’s Office (now CHL) from 1853 to 1859. The document was listed in an inventory that was produced by the Church Historian’s Office circa 1904. Sometime in the early twentieth century, the document was included in the Sidney Rigdon Collection, an artificial assembly of documents related to , at the Church Historian’s Office. The document’s early dockets as well as its inclusion in the circa 1904 inventory and in the Sidney Rigdon Collection indicate continuous institutional custody.
On 30 December 1841 wrote from to inform the of various developments, including that would remain in the region to assist him in proselytizing. Although the letter was addressed only to First Presidency member , Gee explained that the intention of his letter was to provide information to the entire First Presidency. Toward the close of the letter, he also expressed his hope that the First Presidency would write back to him. Gee likely addressed the letter to Rigdon because the latter was ’s postmaster, meaning letters could be sent to him postage free.On 8 April 1840 had been assigned to accompany in visiting Jewish peoples in Europe and Palestine. While traveling through the American Midwest, the two men separated in an effort to raise funds for their voyage, expecting to reunite in the eastern states. On 15 January 1841 JS published a notice in the Times and Seasons informing Hyde and Page “that the Lord is not well pleased with them in consequence of delaying their mission, ( John E. Page in particular,) and they are requested by the First Presidency to hasten their journey towards their destination.” In response, Hyde departed for on 13 February 1841. Page also continued eastward but believed that he had not raised sufficient funds for the journey. He intended to depart in July 1841, but after delaying his journey another month, he received instruction from leaders to return to . He was on his way to Nauvoo when he met with in .had arrived in , where he was assigned to serve a mission, on 22 December 1841. With few Latter-day Saints in the city, Gee was pleased four days later to find that was passing through the city. On 30 December, Gee wrote to inform the First Presidency of his and Page’s success in finding venues in which to preach and in attracting large audiences to the missionaries’ sermons. Gee also sought information to assist in his efforts to debunk rumors that had helped produce the Book of Mormon. The claim had been popularized by , who alleged in Mormonism Unvailed that while Rigdon lived in Pittsburgh, he had stolen Solomon Spalding’s unpublished book manuscript from a local printer and plagiarized from the manuscript to assist JS in producing the Book of Mormon. Gee had access to a published rebuttal of this claim, written by , but wanted to be certain that its details were correct. Gee also hoped to interview the local printer, Robert Patterson, and wanted suggestions regarding interview questions and other people to interview.The letter was presumably written by and was stamped by the post office on 1 January 1842. On 17 January 1842 wrote a response, which is no longer extant. Gee would not have received the response, since he died on 20 January. According to the newspaper Iron City, and Pittsburgh Weekly Chronicle, Rigdon’s response confirmed “’s account of the origin of ‘Mormonism Unveiled.’”
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Minutes, 1840–1844. CHL.
Howe, Eber D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spalding, More Than Twenty Years Ago, and by Him Intended to Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834.
Jackson, Kent P., ed. Manuscript Found: The Complete Original “Spaulding Manuscript.” Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1996.
Winchester, B[enjamin]. The Origin of the Spaulding Story, concerning the Manuscript Found; with a Short Biography of Dr. P. Hulbert, the Originator of the Same; and Some Testimony Adduced, Showing It to Be a Sheer Fabrication, So Far as Its Connection with the Book of Mormon Is Concerned. Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking, and Guilbert, 1840.
Iron City, and Pittsburgh Weekly Chronicle. Pittsburgh. 1841–1845.