Mormon History

Mormon Love for Kirtland Money - 1837

The Ohio Observer March 2, 1837

For the Ohio Observer.


Mr. Clark:

Dear Sir, -- There has been observed a striking change among our neighbors, the Mormons, in the course of three years. Then they lived in obscurity, in a few miserable shanties and log houses in the northern part of this town. They were considered unworthy of public notice, and it was thought they would speedily come to nothing and sink to oblivion.

Then they were devoted to prayer and the working of miracles. They spoke in tongues; they laid their hands on the sick; they prophecied, and they attempted to cast out devils; and they convinced almost everybody that they were assisted by some power more than human.

But, as we said, they have undergone a great change. For some time past they have been swelling up with pride and ambition. They have become exceedingly fond of political power. They are ready to seize upon all the town offices, and divide them among themselves exclusively; and some of the oldest inhabitants are greatly disturbed at their domineering spirit. In this particular they are unlike many other classes of fanatics, (the shakers for example) who utterly withdraw from all the public concerns of the world. The love of money is the root of all evil. It has completely infatuated these Mormons. Every step they have taken of late seems to be marked with the most consumate folly. The desire of worldly gain has killed all their religion, such as it was; and they have turned into a great company of bankers and land speculators. Prophecies have failed, and tongues have ceased; and knowledge has vanished away; and the question, how shall I become rich and obtain an eligible site in the New Jerusalem is all the theme.

The land within half a mile of the temple has been laid out into village lots, and these have been bought and sold among themselves, till at last a lot of one quarter of an acre near the Temple would cost from two to four thousand dollars; & what is more remarkable most of the Mormons have risen to affluence by these speculations.

They have bought out most of the township, & have agreed to give from 80 to 200 dollars per acre, for farms according to their location.

Last fall, in pursuance of a Revelation of Joseph, a Bank was projected, to pay off their mountain of debts, and make all the Mormons rich, who could not do it by land speculations.

At a special meeting for taking up the stock, each subscriber paid little or nothing, but pledged his property for security; for example, a man who owned a building lot near the Temple, would sign $5,000 and pledge his lot for security.

In this way they raised a capital stock of upwards of four millions of dollars. The next step was to despatch men to get the bill[s] struck off in Philadelphia. They read in the following manner: "The Kirtland safety society Bank, promises to pay, &c." By time the bills reached Kirtland it was discovered that emission would be illegal.

An Infidel lawyer was therefore called in to help them out of the difficulty, and by his advice the Revelation was mended as to read: "The Kirtland safety society anti-Banking Co., promises to pay, &c.;" instead of signing the bills as President and Cashier, they signed them as Secretary and Treasurer. By this twisting of the first Revelation they expected to evade the law: and thus they sent out the bills.

They continued to redeem with specie for ten days, and then shut up shop. Since then they have made some arrangement with an agent of the Monroe Bank, and at present are redeeming bills with that currency.

Before they put their bank in operation they had collected some thousands of dollars in silver, as Joseph had before sent forth an order to all the saints about to bring their money in specie, when they came to Kirtland. This was delivered to be deposited in the vaults, and they to be paid in bills.

The protestation of the bank was a sad shock to many a poor Mormon. They were much elated by the prospect of an abundance of money; and had been living on the bank in anticipation long before the bills came out.

This love of money is likely to be the root of some evils to us, as well as to them. We sold our property high, and some of us were much elated at the prospect of making our fortunes; and now we are placed under a strong temptation to pray for their prosperity, in order that we may be able to get our pay.

While this love of money and rage for speculation in the Mormon Church has thrown miracles into the back ground, there are still some attempts made to heal and cast out devils. A maniac, on whom they laid hands and whom they claimed to have healed some fifteen months ago, became raving and was chained last fall. The evil spirit returned and had taken full possession. At length old Joseph, the father of the Prophet, a few weeks ago laid hands on him and commanded the devil to depart. The patient seemed to be calm for a short time, and Father Smith began to assure the bystanders that the devil was gone beyond all doubt. But presently he began to rave again & the old man adriotly replied, "I see there is more than one devil in him;" but continued he, "I can assure you of one thing; God will either heal him perfectly before to-morrow night, or he will deprive him of strength altogether, so that he will not need be chained." But the brothers of the maniac, of whom I received these particulars, told me that he had been chained ever since.   C.
  Kirtland, 16th Feb. 1837.