EBER D. HOWE: INTRODUCTION TO THE SPALDING WITNESSES
“WE proposed in the commencement of this work, to give to the world all the light, of which we were in possession, as to the real and original author or authors of the Book of Mormon. That there has been, from the beginning of the imposture, a more talented knave behind the curtain, is evident to our mind, at least; but whether he will ever be clearly, fully and positively unvailed and brought into open day-light, may of course be doubted. For no person of common prudence and understanding, it may well be presumed, would ever undertake such a speculation upon human credulity, without closing and well securing every door and avenue to a discovery, step by step, as he proceeded. Hence, our investigations upon the subject have necessarily been more limited than was desirable. At the same time, we think that facts and data have been elicited, sufficient at least to raise a strong presumption that the leading features of the ‘Gold Bible’ were first conceived and concocted by one SOLOMON SPALDING, while a resident of Conneaut, Ashtabula county, Ohio. It is admitted by our soundest jurists, that a train of circumstances may often lead the mind to a more satisfactory and unerring conclusion, than positive testimony, unsupported by circumstantial evidence – for the plain reason, that the one species of testimony is more prone to falsehood than the other. But we proceed with our testimony …
“We would here remark by the way, that it would appear that Sol[omon]. Spalding, like many other authors, was somewhat vain of his writing, and was constantly showing and reading them to his neighbors. In this way most of his intimate acquaintances became conversant at that time with his writings and designs. We might therefore introduce a great number of witnesses all testifying to the same general facts; but we have not taken the trouble to procure the statements of but few, all of whom are the most respectable men, and highly esteemed for their moral worth, and their characters for truth and veracity, are unimpeachable. In fact, the word of any one of them would have more weight in any respectable community, than the whole family of Smiths and Whitmers, who have told about hearing the voice of an angel.”
E.D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH: Self-Published, 1834), 278, 281.