JOE SMITH, THE MORMON PROPHET. The lecture of Hon. Josiah Quincy, jr., before several of the Lyceums in the State, has directed attention a-new to all that concerns the history of this extraor-dinary man. Mr. Quincy, however, did not state—and perhaps many of our readers are not aware of the fact—that Joe was of Topsfield origin. NEHE-MIAH CLEAVELAND, Esq., in his very interesting and instructive Address, delivered at the Celebra-tion, in 1850, of the two hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of Topsfield, establishes the position that the Essex County Smiths may very safely claim the paternity of the Mormon Prophet. The follow-ing passage, from the Appendix to Mr. Cleaveland's published Address, will be read with interest at this time:—
SMITH—that multitudinous name, occurs in the first enumeration of Topsfield Commoners. During the second third of the last century, it was illustra-ted by an individual of some note. Samuel Smith, Esquire, was a justice of the peace, and often held the place of town magistrate or agent. But the Smiths gradually died out, or departed—and this; universal name is no longer of Topsfield. Among the latest lingerers was one Asahel Smith, who re-moved, about 1793, to Tunbridge, in Vermont.—This man, like "Ammon's great son, one shoulder; had too high;" and thence usually bore the signifi-cant and complimentary designation of "Crook-necked Smith." He was so free in his opinions on religious subjects, that some regarded his sentiments as more distorted than his neck. When he went to Vermont, a son, Joseph, then 8 or 10 years old, ac-companied him. In process of time, Joseph was married, and had children, among whom was one bearing his own name, and destined to make no small noise in the world. When Joseph Smith, al-lured by the star of western emigration, left Tun-bridge, with his family, he little suspected that he had a young Mohammed in that omnibus wagon, which conveyed him and his household. The wag-on stopped at Potsdam, in St. Lawrence Co., N. Y., then a new settlement. Here, upon the banks of the noisy river Racket, whose spirit seemed to have entered into his soul, grew up the celebrated found-er of the Mormon faith
I shall not pursue the story of Joe Smith. Fa-mous, or infamous, he was no common man. His name is inseparably connected with the origin and history of a numerous and remarkable sect. When Biography shall hereafter seek to trace him to his source, among the thousand genealogical lines of Smithdom, it may save her some trouble to be told that Joe's ancestors were Topsfield people—that his father was born there—and that some of the Goulds and the Balches of this old town still claim kindred with the "Prophet."
The rise of Mormonism is one of the wonders of our day. What, but strong enthusiasm, impelling from within, and a fiery persecution, pressing from without, could have driven a people, numbering ma-ny thousands, to seek a safe home in the far distant and almost impenetrable wilderness? When we were told that they had pitched their pilgrim tents upon the remote borders of the Great Salt Lake, how little did we dream that they had gone thither to build—unwittingly indeed—a half-way house—a grand caravansery—for the refreshment of a hun-dred thousand of our countrymen, soon to be on their way to the Pacific shore! Who will deny that there were an oversight and a wisdom here, fur beyond the reach of mortal ken ? Let us not despair, even of the Mormons. Left they are to themselves, may we not reasonably expect that the developed absurdity of a wild fanaticism will prove its own cor rective ? May we not confidently hope that the; strong native sense of the Anglo-American will at length prevail, and bring back to the faith and prac-tice of a pure Christianity, these victims of delu-sion.
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