MORDECAI M. NOAH and the Mormon ZION

Introduction: Who Was M. M. Noah?     Part 2: Source Texts & Resources
Part 3: M. M. Noah & Oliver Cowdery     Part 4: M. M. Noah & the Masons

-- Part One --

"While the Almighty raised up, enlarged and extended the Gentile Church...
he threw the mantle of his Divine Protection over his chosen people..."
(M. M. Noah, 1845)

"Utah, of course, would later develop as a Mormon state.
Why not a Jewish state in America?"
(Michael Schuldiner, 1999)
{commenting on M. M. Noah}

Noah's Gathering & the Mormon Gathering: 30 Parallels

In the near future a more extensive and fully documented tabulation of all the significant parallels between Major Noah's "Ararat" plan and the Mormons' "American Zion" plan will be posted on this web-page. What is now offered below is simply a preliminary list, compiled in no special order and without documented references to early Mormon history and scriptures.

Hopefully this preliminary listing will help to generate some interest in the subject among students of various American "gatherings of Israel" and of the Mormon "Israelite Gathering" in particular. Similar parallels might then be compiled for the early American gathering programs of Conrad Beissel, Israel Eckerlin, the Moravians, Nathaniel Wood, and even of the notions respecting pre-millennial gathering as expressed by writers such as Richard Brothers and the Rev. Ethan Smith. If enough people will submit their own comments and insights to the site host, perhaps this entire topic can eventually be put into a better perspective for future study and discussion.

01. Both plans called for gathering religiously-minded settlers from throughout the world to a City of Refuge, to be built by those same pious immigrants upon virgin lands in the United States.

02. Both plans called for utilizing the corridor which ran along the old route of the Genesee Road for the transit of the immigrants westward. (Most of the earliest Mormon missionary, immigration, and settlement efforts made use of this route running from NY to OH.)

03. Both plans called for utilizing the a east-west oriented waterway for the transit of the immigrants westward. (Major Noah's Israelite Gathering was planned with the transport utility of the Erie Canal in mind; it formed a transportation link with the Hudson estuary in the east. The Mormons' "Zion" in Independence was situated at the junction of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, with the Missouri forming a transportation link with the Mississippi at St. Louis in the east.)

04. Both plans began in New York, were a product of events and opportunities arising in the "Burned Over" district in that state, and called for building their respective Cities of Refuge on the undeveloped western )or northwestern) frontier borders of the United States.

05. Both plans called for the new City to be populated by people of Israelite descent, including tribes of the American Indians. Early Mormons had their Israelite ancestry confirmed for them in "patriarchial blessings" -- perhaps, in the very beginning, also via the motions of their leaders' diving rods. Major Noah's plan allowed for the inclusion of Gentiles, but was primarily intended for "Israelites."

06. Both plans called for efforts to instruct the Indians as to their supposed original Israelite ancestry. The Book of Mormon was specifically written with this future purpose in mind. What written or oral material Major Noah planned to use in his efforts to carry out this same purpose have not been preserved -- but see his 1837 Discourse on the evidences of the American Indians being the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel... for some hints of Noah's ideas in reagrd to "instructing" the Indians.

07. Both plans called for civilizing the Indians and integrating them into modern society. The Mormon planner expected their Indian converts to experience a skin color change and thus essentially become "white" people. Noah was content to just to "cultivate their minds, soften their condition and finally re-unite them with their brethren the chosen people. "

08. Both plans called for administration of the people by a theocracy based upon that of the biblical religion. That theocracy was to rule over a "City of Refuge" for scattered Israelites during an imminent period of warfare (beginning with the Greek insurrection against the Turks in the Old World and with a Mormon-Indian armed conflict with the U. S. Government in the New World).

09. Both plans called for a restoration of the Judges of Israel. In the Mormon plan the Chief Executive was to be a Prophet and Mayor. In Noah's plan he was to be a Governor who spoke prophetically (see #22 below).

10. Both plans called for the Chief Executive to be assisted in his governing by a council of like-minded co-religionists. Smith, in Nauvoo, established a secret "Council of Fifty" to establish an independent government which would engage in diplomatic and political dealings with foreign governments on behalf of "Zion." Noah appointed foreign emissaries for similar purposes in the behalf of "Ararat."

11. Both plans called for the immigrants to eventually possess an armed military force of their own.

12. Both plans held out the possibility of extending the new nation westward, perhaps as far as the Pacific. Smith's "Council of Fifty" was to establish diplomatic ties with foreign countries. Noah appointed overseas representatives to do much the same.

13. Both plans called for an agrarian society, extending outward from a great City. If either gathering had gone forward as originally envisioned, the members of the newly gathered society would have soon outgrown the confines of their original "promised land" and quickly overspread the "regions round about" with farms and satellite villages.

14. Both plans called for a temple in that great city. Both sets of planners fashioned a cornerstone for that temple and dedicated it with a holy ceremony. (Noah's cornerstone was probably designed to function as part of the foundation of the city's primary synagogue). The Grand Island, NY cornerstone was dedicated by M. M. Noah; the Independence, MO cornerstone was dedicated by Oliver Cowdery.

15. Both plans included Masonic influences in regard to establishing the chief building(s) of the planned city. (While Masonic influences were apparent in the planning and dedication of their Kirtland Temple, those aspects only became explicit in their construction and operation of their Temple at Nauvoo.)

16. Both plans devoted considerable attention to the matter of polygamy among the faithful inhabitants of the nation. (Oliver Cowdery, like Major Noah, strove to eliminate polygamy among the people, while Joseph Smith, Jr. condemned the practice in public but upheld it in private.

17. Both plans were destined to draw hostile response from people already living in the neighborhood where the city was to be erected. (The hostile "Gentile" response against the Mormons was clearly manifested, while a similar response against Noah's plans was only incipient.

18. Both plans were to be implemented on the American frontier but neither plan was especially attractive to resident frontier people. Thus it was that both pland (failing to convert local Indians) looked to eastern immigration to become operative on a large scale.

19. Neither plan was carried to fruition, but both affected future gatherings. (The Latter Day Saint gathering at Independence is still in its infancy and is not a gathering of "Israel." Noah's plans seem to have helped influence the growth of a Jewish population in Buffalo in later years. Both sets of planners predicted the eventual establishment of modern Israel.)

20. Both plans involved potential monopolization of trade routes and regional commerce. (Noah's city was situated to become the hub of a trade system stretching from New Orleans to New England and Canada. The Mormon city near Independence was situated so as to dominate the western fur trade and trade with Mexico. Mormon Nauvoo was situated so as to dominate commerce on the upper Mississippi.)

21. Both plans called for a taxation of the immigrant settlers. (Noah called for a tax which was less than tithing, while the Mormons initially instituted consecration and stewardship plans which constituted more than tithing.

22. Both plans put the primary leaders (M. M. Noah and Joseph Smith, Jr.) in the position of being land speculators who were in the business of selling city lots. Noah's plans along these lines faded before the year 1826 had ended. Smith was a real estate speculator at Kirtland (where even Parley P. Pratt accused him of making unconscionable profits on city lot sales) and even more so in Nauvoo, where he became that city's richest citizen.

23. Both plans were denounced by opponents as being set in motion as money-making schemes to enrich their principal leaders (Noah and Smith).

24. Both plans were headed by leaders (Noah and Smith) who alleged God's favor on their behalf, spoke prophetically, and quoted scripture as supporting some parts of their Israelite gathering programs.

25. Both plans called for an Israelite gathering in America prior to a Jewish gathering in and around Jerusalem.

26. Both plans had messianic elements. M. M. Noah was accused in the newspapers as setting himself up as a forerunner of the coming Messiah. Smith's early followers looked for the imminent second coming of Christ at their planned city and gathering spot in Independence, Missouri.

27. Both plans looked to emigration from Europe to swell the ranks of the utopia-builders already living in the United States. The Mormon plan did not evolve to this point until the mid-1830s; Noah's plan relied upon European emigration form its very beginning.

28. Both plans were substantially affected by the 1826 William Morgan abduction in Canadiagua, Ontario Co., NY. The anti-Masonic ferver which followed 1826 helped set the stage for the borth of Mormonism and furnished several of its early leaders. That same ferver helped to kill M. M. Noah;s plans of building an Israelite Zion in America.

29. Both plans made effective use of the media to advertise their intentions and both were subject to hostile criticism from opponents writing in the newspapers of their day. Mordecai M. Noah evidenced a good measure of audacity showmanship in carrying out his 1825 dedication for Grand Island. Early Mormons like Sideny Rigdon, Jospeh Smith and G. J. Adams were also accomplished publicizers and showmen.

30. Both plans made use of a member of the Jewish Siexas family of New York. (Major Noah's private secretary was Mr. A. B. Siexas, while the Mormons employed Joshua Siexas as a teacher at Kirtland -- both were grandsons of Isaac Siexas of Portugal.) The leaders of both plans studied Hebrew under a member of the Siexas family of New York. (Major Noah studied the language under the tutelage of Moses Siexas, while Joseph Smith's Hebrew teacher was the nephew of Moses: Joshua Siexas.)

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rev. 0a -- June 10, 2000