180 years ago today - May 1, 1843

William Clayton's diary says that Joseph Smith "has translated a portion [of the "brass" Kinderhook Plates dug up in Adams County, Illinois] and says they contain the history of...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." The discoverers of these artifacts would later claim that they manufactured the items complete with "hieroglyphics by making impressions on beeswax and filling them with acid." The 1992 Encyclopedia of Mormonism acknowledges that extensive tests on one of the original Kinderhook plates "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." This leaves unanswered what Joseph Smith meant when he said he "translated" the Kinderhook Plates, or more fundamentally what he meant by the word "translation."

[Quinn, D. Michael, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Appendix 7: Selected Chronology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-47, http://amzn.to/origins-power]

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