The Golden Plates of Mormonism

25 January

The Golden Plates of Mormonism

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, pg. 555;While the plates were in Joseph’s keeping, others saw them, including eleven witnesses whose testimonies appear in all editions of the book.  Various descriptions provided by eyewitnesses suggest that the plates may have been made of a gold alloy, measured about 6 inches by 8 inches (15.2 cm by 20.3 cm), were 6 inches (15.2 cm) thick, and weighed about 50 pounds (22.7 kg).

Mosiah 8:9;And for a testimony that the things that they had said are true they have brought twenty-four plates which are filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold.

Today we’re looking at the gold plates and Joseph Smith’s character.  Where are the plates today?  Were they made of gold or something resembling gold?  The many descriptions of the plates remind me of Joseph Smith.  Some say he was the real deal just as those plates, while others tell a story of a man that looks good on the outside, but when you get up close it becomes clear all that glitters isn’t gold.

In 2007 Mariusz Pudzianowski from Poland was listed as the strongest man in the world.  Mr. Pudzianowski is 6’1” and weighed in at 291 lbs. according to reports.  This guy has a 58” chest and a 36” waist.  His biceps are as big around as the drum of my washing machine at twenty-two inches.  Mr. Pdzianowski is reported to have the ability to bench press 606 pounds, and from a dead lift could pick up a whopping 871 pounds!  Just imagine!

Now with those stats floating around in your head imagine a farm boy from upstate New York by the name of Joseph Smith, Jr.  Depending on where you retrieve your information from you’ll find Mr. Smith had no real exceptional physical qualities to brag about while others tell us of a very athletic, well built man who could outrun, out jump and lift more than anyone else the locals had ever known.  The one thing everyone can agree upon was the slight limp he had stemming from a surgery on his leg at the age of six or seven (“The Life and Ministry of Joseph Smith” – Teachings of the Presidents of the Church – Joseph Smith, pg. xxii).

About those plates…

The point to all this?  Imagine Joseph who walked with a limp, running three miles through the woods with 200+ pounds of gold plates tucked in his shirt while three unknown men are chasing him.  This is the imagery the LDS Church has faithfully taught its members in Sunday school classes for the past hundred plus years. It’s their attempt to glorify Smith by telling us how strong he was and how a boy with no education was smarter than everyone else in the world – combined. (“History of Joseph Smith by His Mother Lucy Smith”,pgs 107-108)

If the plates were solid gold, it’s estimated they’d weigh around 200-230 pounds. How reasonable is it that he’d be able to pick up and run at top speed with a set of gold plates that either outweighed him or matched his weight?  Do we have verifiable proof this was indeed a miracle?  Which story do you believe?

Now mind you, I am a staunch believer in miracles.  I have absolutely no doubt the Lord can perform miraculous events by Himself or through His creation.  Cases in point are Samson in Judges 16 and Balaam in Numbers 22.  If God can make a donkey speak to Balaam and give Samson strength enough to bring down a temple, not to mention the time when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, I’m certain He could make it possible for a limping Joe to run three miles through the woods with a set of golden looking plates stuffed in his shirt while people are chasing after him.  Seriously.

The problem with the story about the plates is how many times it’s changed over the years and the speculations of what Joseph must have meant.  Were the plates made of pure gold or were they gold plated?  In order to make a sensible determination I say we go to the original source to see for ourselves.  If we’re to believe the Book of Mormon it’d also be a good idea to know all we can about the plates and how Joseph Smith came into possession of them don’t you think?

In History of the Church we read Joseph’s account of how the angel Moroni visited him every year on the same day for four years to let him know he would someday receive the gold plates which contained the story of ancient inhabitants who lived on the American continent (HC 1:11-12).

“…his name was Moroni…He said there was a book deposited, written upongold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent…”

We also have the words of James Talmage in Articles of Faith (pg. 237) telling us Joseph said they were “made of gold”…”

However, we see another story known as “The Wentworth Letter” with Joseph Smith describing the plates as “having the appearance of gold”.  History of the Church 4:537.

“…These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin.”

So…which is it?  Again, are the plates made of gold or did they just look like they were made of gold?  Smith has committed the same scandalous deed he always accused the biblical scribes of.  “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Bible, A Bible! pg. 13), except this is even worse for the Mormons.  After all, it’s just English to English right; Joseph’s mouth to the transcriber’s ears? (Doctrines of Salvation 3:190 & 1 Nephi 13:26)

Now let’s say they just had a golden appearance to them.  Everyone testified the plates weighed between 40-60 pounds.  If this is the case then why do the stories differ and why doesn’t anyone question these things?  Mosiah 8:9 says they were pure gold.

And for a testimony that the things that they had said are true they have brought twenty-four plates which are filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold.

In July 2007 the monthly LDS magazine, New Era, stated there is no proof the plates were made of solid gold.  Does this mean the Book of Mormon story of the plates is untrue?

Neither Joseph nor any of the witnesses said that the ancient record was made from solid gold. Nor did they use the term “gold plates” or “plates of gold.” All Joseph said is that they had “the appearance of gold.

The presumption that the plates were made of solid gold is curious but probably not correct. It was Joseph’s enemies that coined the phrase “Gold Bible.” It is more appropriate to refer to the ancient metal record as “the Golden Plates,” referring to their color, not the material they were made of.

The problem with their analysis is the blame they’re trying to place upon those in the audience instead of those peddling the product.  Labeling the Book of Mormon as the “Golden Bible” by some onlookers has nothing to do with the discrepancies found in their holy writ and the testimonies of those who took part in this whole thing.

Who was Joseph Smith?

The character of Joseph Smith and his family needs the serious attention of anyone who loves their Mormon heritage.   If we want or need to believe in the Book of Mormon, naturally the character of the person who brought it forth should be evaluated.

What we’ve discovered is actually worse than what I thought we’d see.  As I’ve stated many times before, the shock factor for me wore off long ago with Mormonism, but in this study there were a few things I found that surprised even me.

Seer Stones and Crystal Balls…

There are well documented stories of Joseph telling people that a spirit turned itself into a toad and then an unknown man who knocked him down when he discovered the “golden plates” as well as multiple reports of Joseph telling anyone that’d listen the Book of Mormon was a complete fraud.  Then there are testimonies of people who wondered why Joseph Smith was using the “peep stone” he found in a well to translate the Book of Mormon if the box contained the special “Urim and Thummim” provided by God to translate the plates.

Many witnesses told of how Smith never had the plates in sight when he was “translating”.  Instead he used a stone inside his hat and when the stone lit up a word would also appear inside his hat that he would give to the transcriber who in turn would write that word down.  Some accounts say that a sentence at a time would appear.

As much as the Church has tried to disentangle itself from the occultic ways of Joseph Smith and his family, they can’t hide the evidence of who they really were and what they participated in.  Unfortunately, romantic notions of a prophet who had no honor in his own hometown aren’t what historical records reveal to us about Joseph Smith.  My heart goes out to people like my mother who still hold a fantasy in their hearts and heads towards this crooked man. 

Even the Book of Mormon opens itself up, giving insight into a world of sorcery their god obviously engaged in while the God of the Bible was telling the prophets He would condemn His people for the very same thing.

Alma 37:23; “And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations.

God never allowed His prophets to engage in divination and looking into stones for special messages is indeed divination.

Leviticus 20:6; “And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

The following is what the Holman Bible Dictionary has to say about divination and our question should be if God feels this way then why would He contradict Himself in the Book of Mormon?

An attempt to contact supernatural powers to determine answers to questions hidden to humans and usually involving the future.

The Old Testament often attests to the practice of magic by the Hebrews themselves, reflecting how entrenched it was. Saul, the first Hebrew king, is said to have “put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land” (1 Sam. 28:3), but even he later sought out a necromancer (1 Sam. 28:7)…Isaiah 3:2-3 reflects that the society attaches the same importance to “the diviner,” “the skillful magician,” and “the expert in charms” as to “the mighty man, and the soldier, the judge, and the prophet” (RSV)…

Although varying kinds of divination and magic are reported to have been practiced widely in ancient Israel and among her neighbors (Deut. 18:9-14; 1 Sam. 6:2; Isa. 19:3; Ezek. 21:21; Dan. 2:2), Israel herself was clearly and firmly admonished to have no part in such activities. “You shall not practice augury or witchcraft” (Lev. 19:26 RSV). “Do not turn to mediums or wizards; do not seek them out to be defiled by them” (Lev. 19:3 RSV).Karen Joines”

Compare the above information with the words of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith who said the wicked are those who don’t have the use of their own seer stones which obviously contradicts what God told us in the Bible.

The seer stone has ties to the occult so why would a prophet of God participate in this nefarious deed? He certainly had a penchant for crystals, even prophesying the earth will one day become a large crystal like ball we can look into and see other earths.

D&C 130:9; “This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.

You can’t find anything like this in the Bible because it’s not true.  Nowhere in scripture does it tell us the earth is going to be like a crystal ball!  Brigham Young spoke nonchalantly about Smith’s clairvoyant ways and to date no evidence has presented itself showing that he denounced this evil before he was shot and killed in the Carthage Jail.

Proof of that is the talisman found in his pocket on that same day. Miss Emma gave the talisman to a son of her 2nd husband Bidamon, who in turn auctioned the thing off.

Visionaries?

Furthermore, there are many of the witnesses who referred to Harris, Cowdery, Smith and Whitmer as being “visionary”.  This term in the early nineteenth century carried a different meaning than what it does today.  Back then it meant “one whose imagination is disturbed or one who forms impracticable schemes; one who is confident of success in a project which others perceive to be idle and fanciful”.  Today the latter definition can mean the same thing, but is rarely used in this manner, if at all. Rather this word in today’s age is used in a complimentary way.

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, the Wright brothers, Lech Walesa, Sally Ride, and Charles Lindbergh were all hard working, innovative visionaries who wanted to do something with their lives.  Most definitely their behaviors did nothing to harm people or steal from others.

1828 Dictionary for visionary  

Today’s Dictionary for visionary 

The visionaries of yesteryear were typically up to no good, oftentimes making their living by taking advantage of others through schemes of trickery.

So far into our investigation we have a set of plates that may or may not have been pure gold and conflicting testimonials of what the leaders say vs. what the Book of Mormon says surrounding that issue. We also have evidence that Smith used divination to translate the Book of Mormon by placing a “seer stone” in his hat instead of using the tools God supposedly supplied for him in the box that the plates came in.

Caves of Cumorah and the Gold Plates…

To make matters even worse the stone that Smith used in his hat is the very stone he was using to trick people when he was arrested just four years earlier.  In Bainbridge, NY, Smith was charged with being a disorderly person and an imposter for using a peep stone to search for buried treasure. (H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters, Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record (Salt Lake City: Smith Research Associates, 1994).  This book is a must read!

Were you aware that Brigham Young and Oliver Cowdery told people they all went into a cave in Cumorah to deposit the plates and found hundreds of other plates two feet deep lying upon tables along with the “sword of Laban” and other ancient artifacts?  (Journal of Discourses 19:38-39)

What happened to Moroni taking the plates back into heaven with him? (Doctrines of Salvation 3:227-229) How about the stories told by Lucy Smith that Joseph carried the urim and thummim around with him all the time which was one of the ways they figured out they needed to be baptized?

The stories these people told are so incredibly outrageous that it makes it difficult for anyone to choose which story to actually believe.

You see, lots of people can say whatever they want about the Bible, but the proof is in the pudding as they say.  You can go to the Bible and it says the same thing it did 2,000 years ago, regardless of what outsiders say.  The testimonials of who Jesus was, what He did and what He said have not and will not change.  The opinions of others come and go with the wind.  The stories Joseph and company provided about the plates and what happened to them are all over the place.  They contradict each other with Smith even contradicting himself.

The following are testimonies from people who say they saw the plates for themselves or heard about them through Joseph Smith.  We’ve also listed a few of the witnesses who gave sworn testimonies of the Smith family’s behavior.  In addition to these you can read the article we posted a few months ago which is an analysis of the eleven witnesses to the Book of Mormon you can access here

Testimonies of the “Golden Plates” and Joseph Smith’s Character

Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1:128-129; “There will appear between this statement of David Whitmer’s and what is said both by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery a seeming contradiction. Joseph and Oliver both say the translation was done by means of the Urim and Thummim, which is described by Joseph as being “two transparent stones set in a rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate;” while David Whitmer says that the translation was made by means of a Seer Stone.

The apparent contradiction is cleared up, however, by a statement made by Martin Harris. He said that the Prophet possessed a Seer Stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as with the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he sometimes used the Seer Stone.

Martin said further that the Seer Stone differed in appearance entirely from the Urim and Thummim that was obtained with the plates, which were two clear stones set in two rims, very much resembling spectacles, only they were larger.

The Seer Stone referred to here was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum, for a Mr. Clark Chase, near Palmyra, N. Y.  It possessed the qualities of Urim and Thummim, since by means of it—as described above—as well as by means of the Interpreters found with the Nephite record, Joseph was able to translate the characters engraven on the plates.” – B.H. Roberts 

1826 excerpt of Smith’s arrest, trial and conviction in Bainbridge, New York.  Published in Fraser’s Magazine in 1873:

“STATE OF NEW YORK v. JOSEPH SMITH.”

“Warrant issued upon written complaint upon oath of Peter G. Bridgeman, who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person and an impostor. “Prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826. Prisoner examined: says that he came from the town of Palmyra, and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most oftime since; had small part of time been employed by said Stowel on  his farm, and going to school. That he had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were a distance under ground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and had informed him where he could find these treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them. That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health, especially his eyes, making them sore; that he did not solicit business of this kind, and had always rather declined having anything to do with this business.”

There are conflicting reports and ideas as to whether or not this trial even took place and conflicting reports that Smith was found guilty or if he was acquitted. In 1971 Wesley P. Walters found existing documents proving the trial did take place and that Smith was indeed found guilty.  You can read about this in his book “Inventing Mormonism” by Wesley P. Walters and H. Michael Marquardt.

http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=8353

http://user.xmission.com/~research/about/index.htm

http://www.mormonscripturestudies.com/ch/dv/1826.asp

William Smith, Joseph’s brother, Zion’s Ensign, January 13, 1894, p. 6; “I did not see them [the plates] uncovered, but I handled them and hefted them while wrapped in a tow frock and judged them to have weighed about sixty pounds…. Father and my brother Samuel saw them as I did while in the frock. So did Hyrum and others of the family.’ When the interviewer asked if he didn’t want to remove the cloth and see the bare plates, William replied, ‘No, for father had just asked if he might not be permitted to do so, and Joseph, putting his hand on them said; ‘No, I am instructed not to show them to any one. If I do, I will transgress and lose them again.’ Besides, we did not care to have him break the commandment and suffer as he did before.”

William Smith and Willard Chase, Michael R. Ash, Book of Mormon Anachronisms;“…William Smith, a brother of the Prophet who had handled and hefted the plates in a pillow-case, claimed on several occasions that the set of plates weighed about sixty pounds, as did Willard Chase, while Martin Harris said that they weighed forty to fifty pounds. (Robert Smith, 276.)” – http://www.mormonfortress.com/gweight.html

William Smith, a brother of the Prophet, who had handled and hefted the plates in a pillow-case, claimed on several occasions that the set of plates weighed about sixty pounds. (Robert F. Smith, The ‘Golden’ Plates, pp 276 Reexploring the Book of Mormon, ed., John W. Welch (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992).

Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” The Saints’ Herald, Oct. 1, 1879, 289-290; Emma Smith said that she never saw the plates.  She merely picked them up and moved them around with a piece of cloth that covered them at all times.  You can read her account in her own words here

Lucy Mack Smith – The City of the Mormons, pg. 27; “I [Lucy Mack Smith] have myself seen and handled golden plates they are about eight inches long six wide some of them are sealed together and not to be opened and some of them are loose are all connected by a ring which passes through hole at the end of each plate and are covered letters beautifully engraved I have seen and also the Urim and Thummim They resemble large bright diamonds set in a bow like a pair of spectacles My son puts these over his eyes when he reads unknown languages and they enable him to interpret them in English I have likewise carried in my hands the sacred breastplate It is composed of gold and is made to fit the breast very exactly.” – Rev. Henry Caswall, M.A.

There are still other accounts stating Lucy Mack Smith never saw the plates.

Mary Musselman Whitmer’s grandson shared an experience of his grandmother seeing the “golden plates” which was printed in the book Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820-1844 by John W. Welch; “My grandmother in having so many extra persons to care for, besides her own large household, was often overloaded with work to such an extent that she felt it to be quite a burden. One evening, when (after having done her usual day’s work in the house) she went to the barn to milk the cows, she met a stranger [identified in another version as Moroni] carrying something on his back that looked like knapsack. At first she was a little afraid of him, but when he spoke to her in a kind, friendly tone, and began to explain to her the nature of the work which was going on in her house, she was filled with inexpressible joy and satisfaction. He then untied his knapsack and showed her a bundle of plates, which in size and appearance corresponded with the description subsequently given by the witness to the Book of Mormon. This strange person turned the leaves of the book of plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings upon them; after which he told her to be patient and faithful in bearing her burden a little longer, promising that if she would do so, she should be blessed; and her reward would be sure, if she proved faithful to the end. The personage then suddenly vanished with the plates, and where he went, she could not tell. From that moment my grandmother was enabled to perform her household duties with comparative ease, and she felt no more inclination to murmur because her lot was hard.”

Katharine Smith Salisbury: Sister to the Prophet, by Kyle R. Walker, pg. 8; “Although she would be disappointed in not being allowed to view the uncovered plates as anticipated, her convictions were strengthened by being able to heft them on at least three different occasions. Katharine’s grandson, Herbert S. Salisbury, remembered his grandmother telling of one such instance: “[Katharine] told me that while dusting up the room where the Prophet had his study she saw a package on the table containing the gold plates on which was engraved the story of the Book of Mormon. She said she hefted those plates and found them very heavy like gold and also rippled her fingers up the edge of the plates and felt that they were separate metal plates and heard the tinkle of sound that they made.” 

Brothers Hiel and Joseph Lewis, sons of Rev. Nathaniel Lewis, Mormon Portraits, pgs 77-81; “The statement that the prophet Joseph Smith, jr. made in our hearing, at the commencement of his translating his book in Harmony, as to the manner of his finding the plates, was as follows: He said that by a DREAM he was informed that at such a place in a certain hill, in an iron box, were some gold plates with curious engravings, which he must get and translate, and write a book; that the plates were to be kept concealed from every human being for a certain time, some two or three years; that he went to the place and dug till he came to the stone that covered the box, when he was knocked down; that he again attempted to remove the stone, and was again knocked down. This attempt was made the third time, and the third time he was knocked down. Then he exclaimed, ‘Why can’t I git it?’ or words to that effect; and then he saw a man standing over the spot, who to him appeared like a Spaniard [Oh, you great son of Lucy!], having a long beard coming down over his breast to about here (Smith putting his hand to the pit of his stomach), WITH HIS (the ghost’s) THROAT CUT FROM EAR TO EAR, AND THE BLOOD STREAMING DOWN, who told him that he could not get it alone; that another person whom he (Smith) would know at first sight must come with him, and then he could get it; and when Smith saw Miss Emma Hale, he knew that she was the person, and that after they were married she went with him to near the place and stood with her back towards him while he dug after the box, which he rolled up in his frock, and she helped carry it home; that in the same box with the plates were spectacles; * the bows were of gold, and the eyes were stone, and by looking through these spectacles all the characters on the plates were translated into English.”

Also see:

 http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/PA/penn1820.htm#050134

Willard Chase, Mormonism Unvailed, by Eber D. Howe, pg. 240; “TESTIMONY OF WILLARD CHASE. Manchester, Ontario Co. N. Y. 1833.  I became acquainted with the Smith family, known as the authors of the Mormon Bible, in the year 1820. At that time, they were engaged in the money digging business, which they followed until the latter part of the season of 1827. In the year 1822, I was engaged in digging a well. I employed Alvin and Joseph Smith to assist me; the latter of whom is now known as the Mormon prophet. After digging about twenty feet below the surface of the earth, we discovered a singularly appearing stone, which excited my curiosity. I brought it to the top of the well, and as we were examining it, Joseph put it into his hat, and then his face into the top of his hat. It has been said by Smith, that he brought the stone from the well; but this is false. There was no one in the well but myself. The next morning he came to me, and wished to obtain the stone, alledging that he could see in it; but I told him I did not wish to part with it on account of its being a curiosity, but would lend it. After obtaining the stone, he began to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by looking in it, and made so many disturbances among the credulous part of community, that I ordered the stone to be returned to me again.  He had it in his possession about two years…

In the month of June, 1827, Joseph Smith, Sen., related to me the following story: “That some years ago, a spirit had appeared to Joseph his son, in a vision, and informed him that in a certain place there was a record on plates of gold, and that he was the person that must obtain them, and this he must do in the following manner: On the 22d of September, he must repair to the place where was deposited this manuscript, dressed in black clothes, and riding a black horse with a switch tail, and demand the book in a certain name, and after obtaining it, he must go directly away, and neither lay it down nor look behind him…

He again opened the box, and in it saw the book, and attempted to take it out, but was hindered. He saw in the box something like a toad, which soon assumed the appearance of a man, and struck him on the side of his head. —  Not being discouraged at trifles, he again stooped down and strove to take the book, when the spirit struck him again, and knocked him three or four rods, and hurt him prodigiously. After recovering from his fright, he enquired why he could not obtain the plates; to which the spirit made reply, because you have not obeyed your orders…”

Signed, WILLARD CHASE.

On the 11th December, 1833, the said Willard Chase appeared before me, and made oath that the foregoing statement to which he has subscribed his name, is true, according to his best recollection and belief. FRED’K. SMITH,

Justice of the Peace of Wayne County.

http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/1834howf.htm#pg240b 

Mr. Isaac Hale, father-in-law to Joseph Smith, Jr. (Emma Hale Smith’s father), Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian 9 (1 May 1834); “I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called “money-diggers;” and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure. His appearance at this time, was that of a careless young man – not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father.
Smith, and his father, with several other ‘money-diggers’ boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards, many years since…After these occurrences, young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused, and gave him my reasons for so doing; some of which were, that he was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve; he then left the place. Not long after this, he returned, and while I was absent from home, carried off my daughter, into the state of New York, where they were married without my approbation or consent…

Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called “glass-looking,” and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so…
Soon after this, I was informed they had brought a wonderful book of Plates down with them…

I went to the house where Joseph Smith Jr., lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in their translation of the Book. Each of them had a written piece of paper which they were comparing, and some of the words were “my servant seeketh a greater witness, but no greater witness can be given him.” There was also something said about “three that were to see the thing” – meaning I supposed, the Book of Plates, and that “if the three did not go exactly according to orders, the thing would be taken from them.” I enquired whose words they were, and was informed by Joseph or Emma, (I rather think it was the former) that they were the words of Jesus Christ. I told them then, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it.
The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time in the woods…the whole “Book of Mormon” (so called) is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwary – and in order that its fabricators might live upon the spoils of those who swallowed the deception.”
ISAAC HALE.
Affirmed to and subscribed before me, March 20th, 1834.
CHARLES DIMON, J[ustice]. [of the] Peace.
http://emmahalesmith.com/getperson.php?personID=I19786&tree=00 

David Whitmer Interview from the Kansas City Journal, June 5, 1881. Also listed on the site of Millennial Star Volume 43, pg 423:

     “I, as well as all of my father’s family, Smith’s wife, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris were present during the translation. The translation by Smith, and THE MANNER AS FOLLOWS: “He had two small stones of a chocolate color, nearly egg shape, and perfectly smooth, but not transparent, called interpreters, which were given him with the plates. He did did (typo) not use the plates in the translation, but would hold the interpreters to his eyes and cover his face with a hat, excluding all light, and before his eyes would appear what seemed to be parchment, on which would appear the characters of the plates in a line at the top, and immediately below would appear the translation, in English, which Smith would read to his scribe, who wrote it down exactly as it fell from his lips.  The scribe would then read the sentence written, and if any mistake had been made the characters would remain visible to Smith until corrected, when they faded from sight to be replaced by another line. The translation at my father’s occupied about one month, that is from June 1 to July 1, 1829.”

     “Were the plates under the immediate control of Smith all the time?”

     “No, they were not. I will explain how that was. When Joseph first received the plates he translated 116 pages of the book of “Lehi,” with Martin Harris as scribe…”

     “A few months after the translation was completed, that is in the spring of 1830, Joseph had the book published…””

http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/MStar/id/5055/rec/8 

Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, Richard Bushman, pg. 222; “I have sometimes had seasons of skepticism in which I did seriously wonder whether the Prophet and I were men in our sober senses when he would be translating from the plates through “the Urimn and Thummimn’ and the plates not be in sight at all.” 

Peter Ingersoll, Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, Part 5, pgs 234-236;“In the month of August, 1827, I was hired by Joseph Smith, Jr. to go to Pennsylvania, to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife then was. When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s, in Harmony, Pa. from which place he had taken his wife, a scene presented itself, truly affecting. His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: “You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money — pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.” Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor never could; and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones… One day he came, and greeted me with a joyful countenance. — Upon asking the cause of his unusual happiness, he replied in the following language: “As I was passing, yesterday, across the woods, after a heavy shower of rain, I found, in a hollow, some beautiful white sand, that had been washed up by the water. I took off my frock, and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home. On my entering the house, I found the family at the table eating dinner. They were all anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment, I happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the golden Bible; so I very gravely told them it was the golden Bible. To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it, for, says I, no man can see it with the naked eye and live. However, I offered to take out the book and show it to them, but they refuse to see it, and left the room.” Now, said Jo, “I have got the damned fools fixed, and will carry out the fun.” Notwithstanding, he told me he had no such book, and believed there never was any such book, yet, he told me that he actually went to Willard Chase, to get him to make a chest, in which he might deposit his golden Bible. But, as Chase would not do it, he made a box himself, of clap-boards, and put it into a pillow case, and allowed people only to lift it, and feel of it through the case.”

State of New York, Wayne County, ss:
I certify, that on this 9th day of December, 1833, personally appeared before me the above named Peter Ingersoll, to me known, and made oath, according to law, to the truth of the above statement.

TH. P. BALDWIN,
Judge of Wayne County Court.

http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/1834howf.htm#pg232 

Dr. John C. Bennett, Mormon Portraits, “Joseph’s Nauvoo Accomplice”, by Dr. W. Wyl, pg 21; “The Prophet’s Curious Proposition to His Bosom Friend Bennett — The Same Fully Confirmed by Mrs. Pratt.

The truth about the golden plates, from which Joseph pretended to translate the Book of Mormon, has been established since 1834, by E. D. Howe. I give the substance of the very curious affidavits, obtained by him from Smith’s neighbors, in the Appendix to Part I. of this book. There were never any plates of any kind.

Joseph Wants False Plates

Now it will surely be interesting to the reader, that I can not only convict Joseph Smith out of his own mouth, giving his full confession of the original fraud, but I am also able to show that he contemplated an additional fraud with the “plates,” and that, as usual, he thought to make a pile of money out of the second fraud, too. The witness in the case is Joseph’s Nauvoo accomplice, Dr. John C. Bennett. Those who would refuse his testimony,’ will not be able to contradict that of Mrs. Sarah Pratt’.

Bennett says: “Shortly after I located in Nauvoo, Joe proposed to me to go to New York and get some plates engraved and bring them to him, so that he could exhibit them as the genuine plates of the Book of Mormon, which he pretended had been taken from him, and ‘hid up’ by an angel, and which he would profess to have recovered. He calculated to make considerable money by this trick, as there would of course be a great anxiety to see the plates, which he intended to exhibit at twenty-five cents a sight. I mentioned this proposition to Mrs. Sarah M. Pratt, on the day the Prophet made it, and requested her to keep it in memory, as it might be of much importance.” When asked by me in the spring of 1885 about this statement of John C. Bennett, Mrs. Pratt confirmed it fully and stated also that Bennett had reported to her this conversation with Joseph on the very day when it happened.”

http://www.archive.org/stream/josephsmithproph01wyme/josephsmithproph01wyme_djvu.txt

Joseph Capron, Mormonism Unvailed, by Eber D. Howe, pg 258;Manchester, Ontario County, Nov. 8th, 1833. I, Joseph Capron, became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Sen. in the year of our Lord, 1827. They have, since then, been really a peculiar people — fond of the foolish and the marvelous — at one time addicted to vice and the grossest immoralities — at another time making the highest pretensions to piety and holy intercourse with Almighty God. The family of Smiths held Joseph Jr. in high estimation on account of some supernatural power, which he was supposed to possess. This power he pretended to have received through the medium of a stone of peculiar quality. The stone was placed in a hat, in such a manner as to exclude all light, except that which emanated from the stone itself. This light of the stone, he pretended, enabled him to see any thing he wished. Accordingly he discovered ghosts, infernal spirits, mountains of gold and silver, and many other invaluable treasures deposited in the earth.  He would often tell his neighbors of his wonderful discoveries, and urge them to embark in the money digging business. Luxury and wealth were to be given to all who would adhere to his counsel…

I might mention numerous schemes by which this young visionary and impostor had recourse to for the purpose of obtaining a livelihood. He, and indeed the whole of the family of Smiths, were notorious for indolence, foolery and falsehood. Their great object appeared to be, to live without work. While they were digging for money, they were daily harrassed by the demands of creditors, which they never were able to pay. At length, Joseph pretended to find the Gold plates. This scheme, he believed, would relieve the family from all pecuniary embarrassment.  His father told me, that when the book was published, they would be enabled, from the profits of the work, to carry into successful operation the money digging business. He gave me no intimation, at that time that the book was to be of a religious character, or that it had any thing to do with revelation. He declared it to be a speculation, and said he, “when it is completed, my family will be placed on a level above the generality of mankind”!!           JOSEPH CAPRON.”

http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/1834howf.htm#pg258c  

Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman, pg 72; “Neither Joseph nor Oliver explained how translation worked, but Joseph did not pretend to look at the “reformed Egyptian” words, the language on the plates, according to the book’s own description. The plates lay covered on the table while Joseph’s head was in a hat looking at the seer stones which by this time had replaced the interpreters.

Eleven Character Witnesses Testify of Smith Family, Mormonism Unvailed, by Eber D. Howe, pg 262;Manchester, Nov. 3d, 1833, We, the undersigned, being personally acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, sen. with whom the celebrated Gold Bible, so called, originated, state: that they were not only a lazy, indolent set of men, but also intemperate; and their word was not to be depended upon; and that we are truly glad to dispense with their society.”

Pardon Butts

Warden A. Reed

Hiram Smith

Alfred Stafford

James Gee

Abel Chase

A.H. Wentworth

Moses C. Smith

Joseph Fish

Horace N. Barnes

Silvester Worden

http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/1834howf.htm#pg258c

Fifty-one Character Witnesses Testify of Smith Family, Mormonism Unvailed, by Eber D. Howe, pg 262;Palmyra, Dec. 4, 1833, We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family, for a number of years, while they resided near this place, and we have no hesitation in saying, that we consider them destitute of that moral character, which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. They were particularly famous for visionary projects, spent much of their time in digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth; and to this day, large excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, Senior, and his son Joseph, were in particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.

Martin Harris was a man who had acquired a handsome property, and in matters of business his word was considered good; but on moral and religious subjects, he was perfectly visionary — sometimes advocating one sentiment, and sometimes another. And in reference to all with whom we were acquainted, that have embraced Mormonism from this neighborhood, we are compeled to say, were very visionary, and most of them destitute of moral character, and without influence in this community; and this may account why they were permitted to go on with their impositions undisturbed. It was not supposed that any of them were possessed of sufficient character or influence to make any one believe their book or their sentiments, and we know not of a single individual in this vicinity that puts the least confidence in their pretended revelations.”

http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/1834howf.htm#pg258c

Geo. N. Williams

D.S. Jackways

H.K.

Jerome

Clark Robinson

John Hurlbut

G.

Beckwith

Lemuel Durfee

H. Linnell

Lewis

Foster

E.S. Townsend

Jas. Jenner

Hiram

Payne

Henry P. Alger

S. Ackley

P.

Grandin

C.E. Thayer

Josiah Rice

L.

Hurd

G.W. Anderson

Jesse Townsend

Joel

Thayer

H.P. Thayer

Richard D. Clark

E.D.

Robinson

L. Williams

Th. P. Baldwin

Asahel

Millard

Geo. W. Crosby

John Sothington

A.

Ensworth

Levi Thayer

Durfey Chase

Israel F.

Chilson

R.S. Williams

Wells Anderson

S.P.

Seymour

P. Sexton

N.H. Beckwith

Giles S.

Ely

M. Butterfield

Philo Durfee

At the end of the day we have two testimonies from people who supposedly lived during the questionable time (Moroni and Mosiah) who both said the plates were made of pure gold or they’re gold plates.  We also have non-descriptive testimonies from Joseph Smith and the eleven witnesses who didn’t actually see the plates; someone who saw the angel and the plates from a distance while inside a barn milking cows, and those who either lived inside the home with Smith or were regular visitors and picked up the plates, but never took the covering off them to actually investigate for themselves.

We also have credible character witnesses who knew Joseph Smith and testified of his shameful behavior in the community and the experiences he told them he had while retrieving the plates and the myths he made up about the plates.

On top of all that we have no plates, no archaeological evidence proving the plates existed, and the majority of witnesses who abandoned him and the faith.

Then to make matters even more interesting we have statements made by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young who both denounced the original three witnesses to the Book of Mormon.  Four of the other eight witnesses were accused by both Smith and Young of adultery, stealing, lying, apostasy and having no integrity.

History of the Church 3:232; “Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them.” – Joseph Smith, Liberty Jail, Missouri, Dec 16, 1838

Journal of Discourses 7:164; “Some of the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, June 5, 1859

You as the onlooker have the distinct opportunity to decide which group is telling the truth or if Smith’s stories happened at all.

 If there are any questions about the absurd principles of Joseph Smith after researching all of the things we’ve listed here, I must say that it’d take more faith to believe in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith than it would to have complete faith in the Bible and Jesus.

 Know that we’re praying for you and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us!

With Love in Christ,

Michelle Grim

1 Cor. 1:18

Also check out a few of the other sites I’ve used for research purposes in this article. I highly recommend all of these –

Truth and Grace (this site has some great testimonials from relatives of Joseph and Emma Smith – it’s worth your time to check it out!)

http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/criddle/Smith-Source2.htm

http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/artindex.htm#NY

http://www.sharpenedsword.com/page/page/3925004.htm

http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/1834howf.htm#pg240b

http://richkelsey.org/Cumorah%27s%20Cave.htm

 Also see pictures of Smith’s seer stones here:

http://www.realmormonhistory.com/newpage13.htm#In%20the%20July,%201838,%20issue%20of%20the%20Elders%27%20Journal,%20Joseph%20Smith%20attempted

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6 Responses to “The Golden Plates of Mormonism”

  1. CamdenC January 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    I was always taught growing up that the plates were GOLD. I was never led to believe that we referred to them by their color. I was told that the reason GOLD was used is because in its plate form (much like a piece of paper) it was easier for the writers to imprint their “reformed Egyptian” impressions.

    (The example that was used to help us understand the “softness” of the GOLD was the cartoons where the the bad guy gets the GOLD tooth from someone and to check to see if it is real, he bites down on it).

    • lifeafterministry January 25, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

      Yeah the story you were told and the story I was told (they’re pure gold) is why there’s so much confusion in Mormonism. This is what happens when people lie – oh what a tangled web we weave…
      The real losers in all this are those who believe the stories they’re told by the leaders who may or may not even know the truth themselves. I’m not referring to the GA’s, rather, the Sunday school teacher or the local bishop.
      Michelle

  2. Rebecca January 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Michelle-

    Thank you for this article and your site! People may be unaware of the eyewitness testimony about Joseph “translating” the BOM by placing rocks in a hat and pulling the hat around his face. The golden plates- if they existed- were covered or hidden during those “translation” sessions. I’ve seen official LDS portrayals of Joseph “translating” the golden plates. Has the church issued artwork depicting Joseph “translating” the plates with a hat drawn tight around his face? I think the LDS church knows that picture will scare people away. It’s what really happened. They misrepresent history to convert and keep members.

    • lifeafterministry January 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      Amen Rebecca! And thank you for the kind words of encouragement!
      It’s funny the more I investigated these testimonies, the more I found. I literally came across hundreds of statements made by devout Mormons (early followers) and just as many from those who knew the whole thing was a scam.
      It broke my heart to read the statements made by those who testified that Smith told them it was all a big scam to defraud others of his mischief. I think back to all the years in Sunday school and other meetings trying so hard to believe the stories…
      I agree with your statement 100%. The Church does know the real picture of Smith looking into a hat would scare people so they lie to converts and others to keep their numbers in check.
      This is why they tell people they can’t trust the Bible has been translated correctly. If they threw all their trust in the word of God then Smith would be exposed for the false prophet he really was and without him the Church is nothing.
      We need to be praying always for God to supply a time and opportunity for us to share the truth with the Mormons in our personal lives!
      God bless you Rebecca!
      Michelle 1 Cor. 1:18

  3. CamdenC January 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    The sad thing is that members are so ingrained with the stories that they believe it above all else… What did Hitler say? “If you tell a lie big enough and claim it as truth repeatedly, it will become the truth”. Or something to that effect.

    But of course, most of the LDS “experts” will have a rebutall answer to all of this… They somewhat pride themselves on being able to provide an answer (whether or not it is logical or believable) for all of the inconsistencies and heretical teachings.

  4. Mark Hudson July 6, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    The Mormon Church actually admits that the Book of Mormon is Evil. They say that the “familiar spirits” in Isaiah 29:4 is referring to the BofM, but they think that’s a good thing. Then they admit that all the other places in the Bible that mention familiar spirits really are referring to evil.

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