The Kinderhook Plates

Here's quick, hard evidence against Joseph Smith's prophetic claims,
undeniable because it's all from Church-approved sources.

I challenge any Mormon to give a reasonable explanation of the following two document excerpts, both from official or Church-approved sources.  I have not misquoted anything or taken anything out of context.  Italics, for emphasis, are mine:

The following is a direct quotation from The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, © 1992 Macmillan Publishing Company, volume 2, pages 789-790:

Kinderhook Plates

In April 1843 some alleged New World antiquities were presented to Joseph Smith for his opinion.  The six 2 7/8-by-2 1/4-inch bell-shaped brass plates with strange engravings were reported to have been excavated in Kinderhook, Illinois, about seventy miles south of Nauvoo (HC 5:372-79).  They were shown to Smith because of his claim to have translated the Book of Mormon from ancient gold plates taken from a New York hill in 1827.

The Kinderhook plates created a stir in Nauvoo; articles appeared in the Church press, an illustrated handbill was published, and some Latter-day Saints even claimed Joseph Smith said he could and would translate them.  No translation exists, however, nor does any further comment from him indicating that he considered the plates genuine.  After his assassination in June 1844, the incident was largely forgotten.  Decades later two of the alleged discoverers announced that the plates were a hoax; an attempt to discredit Smith.  By then, however, the Church was headquartered in Utah and little attention was paid to these strange disclosures.

Interest was kindled again in 1920 when the Chicago Historical Society acquired what appeared to be one of the original Kinderhook plates.  Later the Chicago plate was subjected to a number of nondestructive tests, with inconclusive results.  Then in 1980, the Chicago Historical Society gave permission for destructive tests, which were done at Northwestern University.  Examination by a scanning electron microscope, a scanning auger microprobe, and X-ray fluorescence analysis proved conclusively that the plate was one of the Kinderhook six; that it had been engraved, not etched; and that it was of nineteenth-century manufacture.  There thus appears no reason to accept the Kinderhook plates as anything but a frontier hoax.

And this is a direct quotation from the History of the Church, Volume 5, Chapter 19, page 372:

Comment of the Prophtet [sic] on the Kinderhook Plates.

I insert fac-similes of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook, in Pike county, Illinois, on April 23, by Mr. Robert Wiley and others, while excavating a large mound.  They found a skeleton about six feet from the surface of the earth, which must have stood nine feet high.  The plates were found on the breast of the skeleton and were covered on both sides with ancient characters.

I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found.  He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.

My observations are as follows:

  1. According to the History of the Church excerpt, we can see that Joseph Smith was perfectly capable of producing "translations" out of thin air. (Which raises the question:  Which of his other translations were also, in reality, nothing more than figments of his imagination?  The Book of Abraham?  The Book of Mormon, perhaps?)

  2. According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism excerpt, we can see that LDS scholars are perfectly willing to employ poor research at best, or outright lies at worst, in order to suppress embarrassing, but true, occurrences and otherwise whitewash Church history.

For more information on the Kinderhook Plates, see: Back to