Thursday, July 12, 2012

Manhattanhedge to Mormonism

Manhattanhedge, the twice-yearly alignment of sunsets with the city's street grid, has happened again. This event, of course, was made possible by the fact that New York's streets are a grid, thanks to DeWitt Clinton, Simeon De Witt, Gouverneur Morris and John Rutherfurd. I recommend the Museum of the City of New York's exhibit on the subject, which will be closing this Sunday (after which the relevant link will probably be here).

While we're on the subject of DeWitt Clinton's influence, I have long been fascinated by the possibility that he, inadvertently, had something to do with the origin of Mormonism. I first became aware of that with this passage from Richard Brookhiser's 2004 City Journal article:
He also had a deep interest, part archaeological, part fanciful, in the origins of American Indians. He visited ancient mounds in Ohio and, in a common turn of thought for his day, sought to link the ancient history of the New and Old Worlds: perhaps, he wrote, the Indians were descended from the ancient Scythians. Such speculations would bear their gaudiest fruit when Joseph Smith learned, from the Angel Moroni, that the Indians were renegade Israelites.
It's something I'll try to learn more about in further research of my own. In the meantime, this election year, expect to hear a lot, and a lot that's negative, about Mormonism, for some reason.

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