“A Very Particular Friend”—Luther Bradish

By Richard E. Bennett

Richard E. Bennett, “'A Very Particular Friend'—Luther Bradish," in Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith and the Ancient World, edited by Lincoln H. Blumell, Matthew J. Grey, and Andrew H. Hedges (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2015), 63–82.

“A Very P​articular Friend”—Luther Bradish

Richard E. Bennett

Richard E. Bennett was a professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University when this was written.

Some time ago I published a pair of articles on Martin Harris’s February 1828 journey to Columbia College and his visit with those whom I called “the Three Wise Men of the East”—Charles Anthon, Samuel L. Mitchill, and Luther Bradish—all in connection with the so-called “Anthon Transcript.”[1] The purpose of this paper is to expand upon those earlier findings and add new insights into the origins and purpose of Harris’s trip to Albany and New York City. Furthermore, while I will elaborate somewhat upon our understanding of Anthon and Mitchill, my primary intention is to focus on the one “wise man” Harris knew best—Luther Bradish, Esq. I intend to offer additional reasons why this well-known adopted son of Palmyra who had already earned an international reputation for diplomacy was best situated to understand and assist Harris in his attempt to finance the printing of the Book of Mormon. I will conclude by offering a new hypothesis, a tantalizing theory which may invite comment and encourage further research.

Origins of the 1828 Trip

In my earlier study of the origins and purposes of Martin Harris’s trip east, I argued that it was made essentially for corroborative purposes—i.e., that before Harris would mortgage his farm for the printing of the “Mormon Bible,” he would need some academic support, or some sort of scholarly validation or outside verification from so-called experts to the effect that the characters of “reformed Egyptian” Joseph Smith had copied down were legitimate.

The outlines of this story are well known. Working with the gold plates and the Urim and Thummim, Joseph Smith had begun the work of early translating in late 1827 from the reformed egyptian language found in the Book of Lehi in Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi. Early on, he transcribed some of the characters from those plates as a sort of working alphabet or reference guide.[2] At this time his primary scribe was Martin Harris himself, a well-known and respected Palmyra farmer, an early and keen supporter of Joseph Smith’s work, and one of the future Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was to keep his wife, Lucy, from interfering any further in the translation process, Harris begged leave to take a transcription of the characters Joseph Smith had made to New York City.[3] As historian B. H. Roberts writes, he was “to submit them to men of learning for their inspection.”[4] Roberts says Harris submitted “two papers containing different transcripts, to Professors Anthon and Mitchell, of New York, one that was translated and one not translated.”[5]

According to Harris, Anthon “stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian.” After viewing the characters, Harris reported, Anthon “said that they were Egyptian, Chaldeak, Assyriac, and Arabac, and he said that they were true characters.” He even wrote a note “certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct.” However, upon hearing Harris say in answer to his question that an angel of God had revealed such things and that part of the plates were sealed, Anthon promptly tore up his certificate. Denying the possibility of angels and of all such heavenly manifestations, he asked Harris to bring him the plates for him to translate. When Harris replied that he could not do so and that parts of the plates were sealed, Anthon brusquely responded, “I cannot read a sealed book.” Harris promptly scuttled out of Anthon’s presence and went to Mitchill, who “sanctioned what Professor Anthony [Anthon] had said respecting both the characters and the translation.”[6]

"Caractors" document. Photo courtesy of Community of Christ's Library-Archive, Independence, Missouri.

My earlier presumption was that Harris went east primarily because he wanted scholarly validation or independent corroboration. It would also appear that Martin Harris had received his own independent, corroborative inspiration to undertake the trip. “And because of his faith and this righteous deed, the Lord appeared unto him in a vision and showed unto him his marvelous work which he was about to do. And he immediately came to Susquehanna and said the Lord had shown him that he must go to New York City with some of the characters, so we proceeded to copy some of them, and he took his journey to the eastern cities.”[7] Perhaps there was as much compliance as there was corroboration involved in Harris making the trip.

Not only was Harris directed to make the trip, but Lucy’s account makes provision for precisely what kind of expertise Harris was to seek after. “It was agreed that Martin Harris should follow him as soon as Joseph should have sufficient time to transcribe the Egyptian alphabet which Mr. Harris was to take to the east and through the country in every direction to all who were professed linguists to give them an opportunity of showing their talents.”[8] Thus Harris was directed to make his trip east; furthermore, he was to go “in every direction” and finally to seek out those linguists who might lend verification to the validity of the characters.

Nowhere in the records, however, was Harris told precisely which linguists he was to see. We can only conclude that Harris was left to make those decisions himself. It now makes perfect sense that, as both John H. Gilbert and Pomeroy Tucker attest, Harris would have first visited Luther Bradish in February 1828 in Albany on his way down the Hudson to New York City.[9] Travel to New York City could have been made by one of two routes: south from Canandaigua, down the Finger Lakes to the Susquehanna River, and eventually to the Hudson; or overland via Albany. The wintertime would not have favored the lake-and-river route of the Susquehanna, so we are left to conclude that Harris went overland. If so, it was an eleven-and-a-half-hour stagecoach ride from Canandaigua to Albany.[10]

Luther Bradi​​sh

Luther Bradish was a lawyer, linguist, diplomat, and statesman. Born in Massachusetts, he attended school at Williams College. After a short stint as a teacher, he entered the legal profession and became an early Wall Street lawyer. When his first wife, Helen Elizabeth Gibbs, died in childbirth in 1816, along with their stillborn son, Bradish was sent overseas on a delicate diplomatic mission for John Quincy Adams, then secretary of state. On his return to America in 1825, he moved to Moira, Franklin County, where he bought large parcels of land and was elected state assemblyman from 1827 to 1830 and again from 1835 to 1838. In 1838 and again in 1840 he was elected lieutenant governor of New York on the Whig ticket with Governor William Seward. In 1839 he married his second wife, Mary Eliza Hart of New York City, by whom he had a daughter. In 1842 he ran unsuccessfully for governor. Later he was appointed US assistant treasurer for New York and served as president of the American Bible Society and of the New York Historical Association. He died in Newport, Rhode Island, in September 1863.[11]

The first reason Harris visited Bradish was that, if not close friends, the two men would have known each other fairly well. The Bradish and Harris families had been very well acquainted with one another since before the turn of the nineteenth century. Their fathers, Nathan Harris and John Bradish Jr., had worked as local highway commissioners together and were both well respected in the Palmyra community. Furthermore, Martin Harris and Luther’s brothers, Charles and Calvin, were also road commissioners and overseers together.[12] Although Luther spent much of his growing-up years at school in Massachusetts, he had lived in Palmyra, a city not all that large, from 1804 to 1805 and again in 1815, 1817, and much of 1819.[13] The Bradish family were well-known Episcopalians, and his two sisters married well—one to a pioneer doctor in Palmyra and the other to a very early and successful Palmyra attorney. His brother Charles resided in nearby Macedon. In 1825 Luther’s father died, and in December 1828 his mother passed away. Both are buried in Palmyra.[14] As one of his Palmyra nephews put it in as late as 1835, “You have some dear friends [here] who would give you a cordial welcome,” if he were to sell his land holdings in Franklin County and move to Palmyra.[15] Thus the Harris and Bradish families were well acquainted with each other, and it is reasonable to conclude that Harris and Luther had crossed paths several times before. In other words, Bradish would have been a friendly first stop for Harris on his trip east and someone who might direct him on who else to see.

There were several other important reasons why Harris sought out Bradish. For one thing, Luther was a very successful lawyer and by this time had become a man of means, one sought after by many others, some even from Palmyra. For instance, not long before Harris’s visit, the local Palmyra Episcopal priest, the Reverend Joseph Colt, had asked Bradish for money to help build a new and bigger church. “Your known wealth and your numerous connections here warrant me in saying, that should you feel disposed to invest $50 or $100 in our building. . . . You would be a particular service to a few here who are exerting all their energy and means to erect a house for the worship of Almighty God.”[16]

Bradish was also very familiar with the Palmyra economy. Having been elected to the New York State Assembly in 1827, Bradish was already lending his support to Palmyra’s petition to charter a local bank.[17] We also know that he knew the Grandin family and had counseled them on financial matters. We now know that the year after Harris visited Bradish—1829—was a particularly difficult year economically for Ontario County, much worse than the year previous, because of poor crops brought on by an early, harsh winter. In a letter dated simply “April 1829,” C. C. Robinson, one of Luther’s nephews, told of Palmyra’s straitened financial circumstances: “Our crops having been cut off. . . . It has caused a perfect dirth. . . . Such a time has not been known or felt by us at the present for money. Last season we could make our collections with ease . . . but not so far this. Money appears to be out of [the] question.” Pressed for means, Robinson did what many others had done: he asked for money (in his case for a loan of $1,000).[18] Thus Martin Harris’s financial sacrifices for the printing of the Book of Mormon could not have come at a worse time economically than scholars have previously recognized. If, as seems likely, Harris was also looking for a financial partner and support and not just the statements of a linguist, he was clearly seeing the right person.[19]

By the time Harris arrived in Albany and probably before, he may have known of Bradish’s labors in Egypt. Bradish had been in the Middle East for six years, from 1819 to 1825, as a special envoy of John Quincy Adams and knew all about the war of the consuls between Great Britain and France. Bradish also knew well several key archaeologists and temple raiders on both sides of the Nile during that conflict who were then excavating and removing all kinds of Egyptian treasures and artifacts. Furthermore, Bradish was instrumental in shipping to America several small Egyptian artifacts of his own, some to New York and others to Philadelphia.[20]

During his stay in the Middle East, Bradish had also become conversant with several of the native languages in the region, at least well enough to get by, and had become familiar with Egyptian hieroglyphs which were, of course, finally deciphered by the brilliant French linguist Jean-François Champollion in 1822 from his work on the famed Rosetta Stone. Bradish was also conversant in German and Arabic. Few other living Americans, let alone any other acquaintances of Martin Harris, were more conversant with current Egyptian discoveries and, at least to some rudimentary extent, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics than Luther Bradish.

Yet another probable reason Harris visited Bradish was that he knew New York City well and was acquainted with many of its most illustrious citizens. Most importantly for this study, he knew Professor Samuel Latham Mitchill and in all likelihood was responsible for pointing his Palmyra friend in the direction of the man who many believed was the greatest living American naturalist. While we do not know the content of Harris’s conversation with Bradish (to the best of our current knowledge, neither man mentioned it), we do know that after his visit with Bradish, Harris went on to see Dr. Mitchill and Professor Charles Anthon of Columbia College.

Sam​​uel L. Mitchill

A Quaker from birth who was “rather short and inclining to corpulency,” full faced with a large double chin and “a pleasant open countenance,” Professor Mitchill was sixty-four years old in 1828 and then nearing the end of his illustrious career.[21] He was regarded by presidents and paupers, farmers and fishermen as one of America’s greatest scholars. His door was always open, for he delighted to learn from everyone, no matter what their station in life. A popular figure, he had served as an assemblyman in the New York Legislature from 1797 to 1800 when he resigned from Columbia in 1801 to serve in the US House of Representatives until 1805 and was later elected US senator, a post he held until 1809. He served later terms in the US House of Representatives (1810–13). He was an ardent supporter of Robert Fulton’s efforts to build the first steamboat up the Hudson River in 1808.[22] Likewise, he was also one of the strongest supporters of his friend Governor DeWitt Clinton, and of his efforts to build the Erie Canal.[23] Because of his labors in spearheading the building of the canal, Mitchill sailed on the first barge to navigate the entire canal in 1823 and was given the honor of “pouring into the Canal a bottle of water from the Pacific Ocean and another from the Atlantic Ocean” into the Hudson River to commemorate the completion of this important waterway.[24]

A friend of James Madison and an avid supporter of Jefferson’s policies, Mitchill dined often with the President and earned his trust and respect as a naturalist. As chairman of a select Committee of Congress, he had worked hard to gain financial support for the Louisiana Purchase and encouraged plans to explore the new American West. Jefferson even sent to Mitchill and the American Philosophical Society of which he was an honored member several new specimens of flora and fauna which had been forwarded to him by Lewis and Clark during their famous explorations westward.[25]

Mitchill was also well known for his famous collection of specimens of plants, seeds, and animals from all over the world.[26] It seems his scientific interests knew no bounds. As one scholar put it, “His furious rate of publication never abated.”[27] A member of forty-nine different learned societies in eleven countries, he authored several books and scores of articles. By the time he died in 1831, he had earned the plaudits of the great and the small. John Randolph called him “a chaos of knowledge.” He was known among his colleagues as the “nestor of American science,” a “stalking library,” “the Delphic Oracle of New York,” and even President Thomas Jefferson referred to him as “the Congressional Dictionary.”[28]

Mitchill was a kindly, highly respected man, a man many considered to be one of the most learned in America and one of the country’s greatest naturalists. Recent research serves only to substantiate such points. Henry Meigs, a New York politician and neighbor, said of him in 1817: “The Doctor is one of the best and happiest men. His example does more for the cause of science than 1,000 learned volumes. It leads to such pursuits by every seduction which such Bonheur can present. He seems to enjoy a perpetual spring.”[29]

It is possible that Harris knew Mitchill from earlier times. Mitchill had visited the Palmyra region on various occasions previously in connection with his anthropological and linguistic studies of local Indian tribes. Furthermore, Mitchill had helped plan out the eventual route of the Erie Canal, had visited several townsites along the proposed route (including Palmyra), and had interviewed scores of local citizens about the proposed waterway.[30]

Unlike the meeting between Harris and Bradish, we do have some idea of the nature of the conversation between Harris and Mitchill. From an article written in 1831 by a newspaper reporter, James Gordon Bennett, and published in the New York Morning Courier and Enquirer, we learn that Harris first met with Professor Anthon and then later with Mitchill: “The Doctor received him very ‘purlitely,’ looked at his engravings—made a learned dissertation on them—compared them with the hieroglyphics discovered by Champollion in Egypt—and set them down as the language of a people formerly in existence in the East, but now no more.”[31]

Cha​rles Anthon Revisited

Some question remains as to whether Harris met with Mitchill first or with Charles Anthon first. As noted above, Harris’s account has him visiting Mitchill after he visited Anthon.[32] According to James Gordon Bennett’s journal on file in the New York Public Library, Harris saw Anthon first, then Mitchill, then Anthon again: “He [Harris] carried the engravings from the plates to New York—shewed them to Professor Anthon who said that he did not know what language they were—Told him to carry them to Dr. Mitchell. Doctor Mitchell examined them and compared them with other hieroglyphs—thought them very curious—said they were the characters of a nation now extinct which he named—Harris returned to Anthon who put some questions to him and got angry with him.”[33]

Bennett described a similar scenario the following month in his Morning Courier and Enquirer article. According to the article, Anthon told Harris, “‘you had better go the celebrated Doct. Mitchell and shew them to him. He is very learned in these ancient languages, and I have no doubt will be able to give you some satisfaction.’ ‘Where does he live,’ asked Harris. He was told and off he posted with the engravings from the Golden Plates to submit to Doc. Mitchell.”[34]

Recent evidence, however, counters Harris’s and Bennett’s remembrance of whom Harris saw first in New York City. In a recently discovered third account by Charles Anthon of Harris’s visit, Anthon states very clearly, “The Man who handed me the scrawl had previously taken it to Dr. Mitchill and had been referred by that gentleman to me.” In all three of Anthon’s written reminiscences, in fact, he says that Harris first went to Mitchill, who in turn sent Harris to Anthon.[35]

Whether Harris saw Mitchill first or last, it is clear that in 1828 Anthon was merely starting out in his career, that although a brilliant classicist, he knew next to nothing about Egyptian—ancient or modern—and that he was speaking beyond the level of his current knowledge. In the newly discovered Anthon account, he admits in a sort of backhanded way that he was a classicist and a linguist, though not one familiar with Egyptian hieroglyphs. By 1844 he was well aware that Mormon missionaries were using his transcript story to obtain new converts, and he was anxious to play down the excesses of what some were then implying he had once said. “Of one thing, however, I am very sure, that I never professed to be acquainted with the vast number of languages of which the Mormons speak.”[36] The truth is, in 1828 his first love was the classics, especially the works of Homer and Herodotus. While he knew Greek, Latin, German, and French fluently, there is little indication he knew much about Egyptian, Hebrew, or any other Middle Eastern language.[37]

While Anthon’s comments about not being able to read a sealed book were later fastened on by Mormon missionaries as fulfillment of Isaiah’s ancient prophecies, it was the renowned and respected Professor Samuel Mitchill who, in concluding that the engravings Harris showed him were “the language of a people formerly in existence in the East, but now no more” offered academic validity and more support and corroboration to Harris in his quest to support the eventual publication of the Book of Mormon.[38]

“A Very Particular Friend”?

There remains yet another compelling reason why Harris might have been interested in seeing Bradish, one never before discussed or even known: Bradish knew the book trade. By 1828 he had formed very active connections with the best publishing houses in the country and had been for some time the literary agent for one of America’s best known authors—James Fenimore Cooper.

Cooper was then a rising voice in American historical romantic novels of frontier and Indian life in early America. He published his first novel, Precaution, in 1820. The Spy, his much better and more commercially successful work, came out the following year. After writing The Pilot and Lionel Lincoln, neither of which did overly well, he published arguably his greatest work, The Last of the Mohicans, with Isaac Carey and Isaac Lea Publishers of Philadelphia. His Deerslayer, published many years later, completed his Leatherstocking Tales and established his reputation as America’s most successful imitator of Sir Walter Scott. Cooper also wrote stirring sea tales, various political confessions of faith, and the History of the Navy of the United States of America. He died in his beloved Cooperstown, New York, in 1851.

Soon after returning from Egypt, Carey and Lea approached Bradish to write a book detailing his exciting sojourns in the Middle East.[39] Bradish never complied but in the process formed a strong friendship and working relationship with Cooper, becoming one of his literary agents as early as 1826. Cooper was then writing in France and needed Bradish to negotiate contracts for him with Carey and Lea and perhaps other American publishing houses.[40]

As literary agent for one of the best-known up-and-coming American authors, Bradish was a man of trust, someone whom both author and publisher could depend on. The American publishing industry, which then lagged far behind its British counterpart in size, influence, and readership, had become an exceedingly hungry, competitive, and cutthroat enterprise. Stories abound of how upstart New York publishers were undermining Carey and Lea and other Philadelphia publishers by pirating British and overseas authors’ manuscripts as they arrived in installments on board packet ships in New York harbor. And aware that American works could be made more profitable than ever before, these same publishers were anxious to try to develop a group of native-born American authors and had begun to publish books by American authors in medicine, law, religion, travel, and science. Competition was becoming very keen, and unscrupulous agents could often be bought out by the highest bidder.[41] As Carey and Lea said in a letter to Bradish in 1827, “[How] dangerous [it is] to trust a new book in the hands of any one unless it is almost perfect. There is so much desire to show an acquaintance with what is generally known, that it is hardly possible for anyone to keep to himself, . . . and if there be faults, they are almost certain to be made known.”[42]

In the matter of Cooper’s The Prairie, Bradish successfully secured all installments for Carey and Lea, receiving their heartfelt commendation in the process. “We know perfectly well you would not put it into the hands of anyone” else. Trusted and respected, Bradish negotiated a contract of $4,500 with Lea and Carey for Cooper’s next book, The Red Rover, published in 1827.[43] Thus Bradish knew the book trade, and both author and publisher knew and respected him as a man of integrity.

My hypothesis is a simple one. Only four months after Harris had shown Bradish, Anthon, and Mitchill the transcript, he and Joseph Smith had finished translating 116 pages of manuscript. Against his better judgment, Joseph had turned the manuscript over to Harris. After he had shown the transcript to those who were privileged to see it, according to his oath, he laid it aside. Then one day, “a very particular friend made him a visit to whom he related all he knew concerning the record.” Lucy’s account says further: “The man’s curiosity was much excited, and he earnestly desired to see the transcript. Martin was anxious to gratify his friend,” and as we all know, the rest is lost history.[44]

Whoever that “particular friend” was, he was likely no mere acquaintance but someone Harris knew well and regarded so very highly that he was willing to break his oath in the hopes of gaining some real assistance in return. He had to be someone who could have helped with the entire enterprise, someone of means, someone trusted in the community by almost everyone (including Grandin), and someone who would have lent almost instant credibility to the story of the Golden Bible. And if Harris was thinking of a possible publisher, at a time when American publishers were avidly looking for manuscripts (even preliminary portions of manuscripts often from 80 to 120 pages in length), who better than the man he had shown the transcript to earlier in the year—a man who would have been keenly interested in the progress Harris had made on the work in just a few months?

We do not know who saw the manuscript that spring of 1828. We may never know. We do not know, for instance, if Bradish was even in Palmyra in 1828. However, it’s likely that he was. Considering the fact that his mother was ailing and would die later that year, it is reasonable to suppose that he may have been in Palmyra at least once or twice that year. Still, for his part, Bradish would have trod very carefully in supporting the publication of the Golden Bible. A confirmed Episcopalian, he had a faith to live by and a reputation to uphold. How would it have looked for an aspiring, successful young politician to outwardly support such a strange endeavor in a town that looked askance at Joseph Smith’s proclamations? Certainly there is no evidence whatsoever at the present time that Bradish even hinted at supporting Harris. Nevertheless, the circumstances are worthy of further study.

In conclusion, Martin Harris’s trip east in 1828 is an important chapter in early Mormon history. Though Harris clearly was seeking corroboration and validation, the trip was made as much out of obedience to Joseph Smith’s invitation and perhaps in compliance to divine inspiration. While instructed to seek out linguists “in every direction,” Harris was on his own in choosing who to see. Evidence has been here presented to show why he first saw Luther Bradish in the state capital on his way to New York and also what Samuel L. Mitchill and Charles Anthon later said to him. Both rebuffed and confirmed, Harris ultimately returned to Palmyra more willing than ever before to financially support the printing of the Book of Mormon. The fact that he did so in 1829, which was a time of economic depression and restraint in the region, is even further evidence of his keen support of Joseph Smith’s endeavors. Finally, did Harris later show the 116 manuscript to his very particular friend, Luther Bradish? It is tantalizing to speculate, but only time and further research will tell us the rest of the story.


[1]Richard E. Bennett, “‘Read This I Pray Thee’: Martin Harris and the Three Wise Men of the East,” Journal of Mormon History 36, no. 1 (Winter 2010): 178–216. See also Richard E. Bennett, “Martin Harris and Three Wise Men,” in Brigham Young University 2010–2011 Speeches (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2011): 77–92.

[2] Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Anderson, Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001), 393.

[3]Lucy Harris had already ransacked “every nook and corner” of the Smith home in Palmyra in a fruitless effort to find the plates. Lucy’s Book, 405.

[4]B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1964), 1:99.

[5]Roberts, Comprehensive History, 1:100. Where Roberts derived his information is subject to discussion. For more on Harris’s visit, see E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH: published by the author, 1834), and Joseph Smith Letter Book 1, 1–6, Church History Library, cited in The Papers of Joseph Smith, vol. 1: Autobiographical and Historical Writings, ed. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), 9. See also the account in the Times and Seasons, May 2, 1842, 772–73.

[6]Joseph Smith, History, A-1, in JSP, H1:240, 244.

[7]Joseph Smith, History, circa summer 1832, in JSP, H1:15.

[8]Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 402.

[9]Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism: Biography of Its Founders and History of Its Church; Personal Remembrances and Historical Collections Hitherto Unwritten (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1867), 41–42. John H. Gilbert wrote an autobiographical memorandum September 8, 1892, in which he mentions that Martin Harris “stopped at Albany and called on Lt. Gov. Bradish—with what success I do not know. He proceeded to New York, and called on Prof. C[harles] Anthon.” In Dan Vogel, ed., Early Mormon Documents, 5 vols. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996) 2:546–47. Gilbert is here getting ahead of himself since Bradish did not become Lieutenant Governor of New York until 1838 but he certainly makes the correct identification.

[10]As of February 12, 1828, with the legislature then in session, Bradish had taken up residence at the Eagle Hotel, a popular and well-known Albany establishment owned by Leverett Cruttenden. C. E. Watson to L. Bradish, March 5, 1828, Luther Bradish Papers, New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way, New York City, hereafter referred to as the Bradish Papers. In all likelihood, it was here that Harris met Bradish after his long coach ride from Canandaigua. See also Francis Granger to Luther Bradish, March 6, 1829, Bradish Papers.

[11]Bennett, “‘Read This I Pray Thee,’” 184–86.

[12]“Our Village Records, 1793–1867,” microfilm records, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.

[13]Luther Bradish to Seth Tucker, July 18, 1838, Bradish Papers.

[14]For the best academic study of Luther Bradish, see Louis B. Gimelli, “Luther Bradish, 1783–1863” (PhD diss., New York University, 1964).

[15]George E. Pomeroy to Luther Bradish, May 14, 1835, Bradish Papers. See also Gates Curtis, ed., History of DeKalb, New York. From Our County and Its People: A Memorial Record of St. Lawrence Country, New York (Boston History Company, 1894).

[16]Rev. Joseph Colt to Luther Bradish, October 30, 1827, Bradish Papers. The fact is others from all around the state were asking him for money; see, for example, Martin Wilkins to Luther Bradish, June 14, 1829, Bradish Papers.

[17]“I recollect when I saw you in February last [1829] you told me that our bank and the Ogdensburgh Bank would claim your special attention. . . . I do hope . . . you will assist in its passage.” Grandin to Luther Bradish, April 18, 1829, Bradish Papers.

[18]C. C. Robinson to Luther Bradish, April 1829, Bradish Papers.

[19]An undated account by a Mr. Charles Butler indicates that Harris may have been seeking financial support. According to this account, Martin Harris approached Butler asking for at least $1,300 but was refused. Charles Butler, “Recollections and Biographical Notes on the Life of Charles Butler (1802–1897), Library of Congress, Washington, DC. See also Richard L. Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981), 100–101.

[20]Thomas Appleton to Luther Bradish, July 14 and 28, 1828, Bradish Papers.

[21]From the diary of Samuel Griscom, May 24, 1824, New York Historical Society, New York City.

[22]John W. Francis, MD. “Reminiscences of Samuel Latham Mitchill, M.D., LL.D.” (New York: John F. Trow, Printer, 1859).

[23]Five years younger than Mitchill, DeWitt Clinton graduated from Columbia College in 1786. George Clinton, his famous uncle, had served as an early governor of New York and mayor of New York City and ran against James Madison in the 1812 presidential election on the Whig ticket. Later, he was reelected governor of New York in 1820 and 1824. William W. Campbell, The Life and Writings of DeWitt Clinton (New York: Baker and Scribner, 1849).

[24]DeWitt Clinton, invitation to S. L. Mitchill, September 28, 1823, holograph, document 15785, New York State Archives, Special Collections, Albany, New York. Wrote Mitchill afterwards of this ceremony of “marrying the Great Lakes to the Ocean” at Albany: “I went on this occasion on the 6th October 1823 and returned on the 9th—after having visited the Canal as far as the aqueduct over the Mohawk 4 miles above the Cohoes [?] and witnessed the grand celebration, and descended in the first boat to the Basin of the Hudson in port of Albany—a day well worthy to have taken.” This inscribed note is scribbled on the bottom of the above Clinton invitation. See also “Some of the Memorable Events and Occurrences in the Life of Samuel L. Mitchill, of New York, from the Year 1786 to 1828.”

[25]Samuel L. Mitchill. “Discourse on Thomas Jefferson; More Especially as a Promoter of Natural and Physical Science. Pronounced Before the New York Lyceum” (New York: G. C. Carvill, 1826), 64.

[26]For example, see “An Examination into the Expediency of Establishing a Board of Agriculture in the State of New York” (Brooklyn: E. Worthington, 1819), 47–50.

[27]The Samuel L. Mitchill Papers Register, William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, MI.

[28]Francis, “Reminiscences of Samuel Latham Mitchill,” 24–30.

[29]Henry Meigs to his father, Joseph Meigs, June 3, 1817. Henry Meigs Correspondence, Special Collections, New York Public Library, New York City.

[30]An adopted son of several Mohawk Indian tribes, Mitchill in 1788 had advised the commission that led to the Treaty of Fort Schuyler (Fort Stanwix) in which the Oneida Indian Tribe sold the Great Western District to the people of New York. His ability to learn the Indian languages and the trust they put in him led to his being “adopted” into several of the Mohawk tribes. In 1809 as a member of the New York State Assembly charged with making a study of the feasibility of a western canal, he conducted a second “tour of observation” and mineralogical survey of all the “internal counties” in western New York traveling from Albany to Niagara Falls. “I went at a leisurely and moderate rate” he recalled, “stopping to inspect as many objects as I conveniently could” and interviewed several towns people all along the way. His recommendations played a significant role in the eventual route of the eventual Erie Canal. See letter of Samuel L. Mitchill to David Hosack, November 15, 1828, as printed in David Hosack, Memoir of De Witt Clinton: With an Appendix, Containing Numerous Documents, Illustrative of the Principal Events of His Life (New York: J. Seymour, 1829), 389–94. See also “Some of the Memorable Events and Occurrences in the Life of Samuel L. Mitchill of New York From 1786 to 1821,” New York State Historical Society.

[31]James Gordon Bennett, “Mormon Religion—Clerical Ambition—Western New York—the Mormonites Gone to Ohio,” Morning Courier and Enquirer, September 1, 1831. See Bennett, “‘Read This I Pray Thee,’” 214.

[32] See note 6.

[33]From an original 29-page holograph journal of James Gordon Bennett, June 12–August 18, 1831. Bennett’s holograph journal tells of his journey through upstate New York, part of the time in company with Martin Van Buren, Benjamin F. Butler, and Nathaniel S. Benton, Special Collections, New York Public Library, New York City.

[34]Bennett, “Mormon Religion,” September 1, 1831.

[35]Erin B. Jennings, “Charles Anthon: The Man Behind the Letters,” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 31, no 2 (Fall/Winter 2012): 171–87.

[36]Jennings, “Charles Anthon,” 172.

[37]From an unpublished “Report of the Faculty in Regard to Preparatory Studies at Columbia College,” signed by Professors Charles Anthon, Nathaniel Moore, and Henry James Anderson, June 12, 1827, in the Correspondence of Early Columbia University Papers, Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, Butler Library, Columbia University, New York City. For more details on Anthon’s academic background and preparations, see Bennett, “Read This I Pray Thee,’” 190–94.

[38]James Gordon Bennett, ‘Mormon Religion,” Morning Courier and Enquirer, September 1, 1831. See also Journal of James Gordon Bennett, June 12–August 18, 1831, Special Collections, New York Public Library.

[39]Matthew Carey, founder of the Philadelphia firm, retired in 1825 leaving his business to his son, Henry C. Carey, whose brother-in-law, Isaac Lea, joined the business with him. Under their leadership, the publishing house became one of the most prominent in the country for several years, publishing such works as the Encyclopedia Americana, a dictionary of German lexicon, and many others. Later the firm changed from Carey and Lea to Lea and Blanchard, then later to Lea Brothers and Company. David Kaser, Messrs. Carey and Lea of Philadelphia: A Study in the History of the Book Trade (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press).

[40]H. C. Carey to Luther Bradish, July 15, 1826, Bradish Papers. Bradish and Cooper had actually known each other for several years. See James F. Cooper to Richard Cooper, May 25, 1831, in The Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper, ed. James Franklin Beard, 6 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), 2:88.

[41]Of all books printed in the United States in 1820, 30 percent were by American authors; in 1830, 40 percent; and by 1850, 55 percent. Kaser, Messrs. Carey and Lea of Phileadelphia, 70.

[42]Carey and Lea to Luther Bradish, August 17, 1827, Bradish Papers. The fact is, in the 1820s no one in America knew just what the relations between an author and publisher should be. Consequently neither author nor publisher wholly trusted the other. See also Kaser, Messrs. Carey and Lea, 73.

[43]Luther Bradish to Messrs. Carey and Lea, April 30, 1827, Bradish Papers. The amount was later raised to $5,000.

[44]Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 421.