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Three Witnesses


   wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children, to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses; and he proveth all his words.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, The Book of Mormon, 1830, pg 86
2 Nephi 11:3
Joseph Smith, Jr.
1830
   wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children, to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses; and he proveth all his words.

   Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it, save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book, and the things therein. And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few, according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men: for the Lord God hath said, that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead. Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good, will he establish his word: and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, The Book of Mormon, 1830, pgs 110-111
2 Nephi 27:12-14
Joseph Smith, Jr.
1830
   Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it, save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book, and the things therein. And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few, according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men: for the Lord God hath said, that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead. Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good, will he establish his word: and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God.

   And behold, ye may be privileged that ye may shew the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work; and unto three shall they be shewn by the power of God; wherefore, they shall know of a surety that these things are true.  And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which shall be shewn forth the power of God, and also his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost beareth record; and all this shall stand as a testimony against the world, at the last day.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, The Book of Mormon, 1830, pg 548
Ether 5:2-4
Joseph Smith, Jr.
1830
   And behold, ye may be privileged that ye may shew the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work; and unto three shall they be shewn by the power of God; wherefore, they shall know of a surety that these things are true. And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which shall be shewn forth the power of God, and also his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost beareth record; and all this shall stand as a testimony against the world, at the last day.

   for this Generation they shall have my word yea & the testimony of three of my Servants shall go forth with my word unto this Generation yea three shall Know of A surety that those things are true for I will give them power that they may Behold & vew these things as they are & to none else will I grant this power among this Generation & the testimony of three Witnesses will I send forth & my word & behold whosoever beleaveth in my word him will I visit with the manifestations of my spirit & they shall be Born of me & their testimony shall also go forth
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelation, March 1829 [D&C 5], pg 1
Revelation to Martin Harris
Joseph Smith, Jr.
March, 1829
   for this Generation they shall have my word yea & the testimony of three of my Servants shall go forth with my word unto this Generation yea three shall Know of A surety that those things are true for I will give them power that they may Behold & vew these things as they are & to none else will I grant this power among this Generation & the testimony of three Witnesses will I send forth & my word & behold whosoever beleaveth in my word him will I visit with the manifestations of my spirit & they shall be Born of me & their testimony shall also go forth

   In the course of the work of translation, we ascertained that three special witnesses were to be provided by the Lord, to whom he would grant, that they should see the plates from which this work (the Book of Mormon) should be translated, and that these witnesses should bear record of the same; as will be found, recorded, Book of Mormon First edition Page 110. and second edition Page<br>
   Almost immediately after we had made this discovery, it occurred to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the aforementioned Martin Harris (who had came to enquire after our progress in the work) that they would have me enquire of the Lord, to know if they might not obtain of him to be these three special witnesses; and finally they became so very solicitous, and teazed me so much, that at length complied, and through the Urim and Thummin, I obtained of the Lord for them the folowing Revelation.<br>
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, 1838–1856, volume A-1, pg 23
Determining the Three Witnesses
Joseph Smith, Jr.
1838
   In the course of the work of translation, we ascertained that three special witnesses were to be provided by the Lord, to whom he would grant, that they should see the plates from which this work (the Book of Mormon) should be translated, and that these witnesses should bear record of the same; as will be found, recorded, Book of Mormon First edition Page 110. and second edition Page
   Almost immediately after we had made this discovery, it occurred to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the aforementioned Martin Harris (who had came to enquire after our progress in the work) that they would have me enquire of the Lord, to know if they might not obtain of him to be these three special witnesses; and finally they became so very solicitous, and teazed me so much, that at length complied, and through the Urim and Thummin, I obtained of the Lord for them the folowing Revelation.

   A Revelation to Oliver David and Martin given Fayett sineca co New York given previous to them having a view of the plates &c.<br>
   Behold I say unto you that you must rely upon my word which if you do with full purpose of heart you shall have a view of the plate and also the brestplate the sword of Laban the Urim and Thumim which was given to the brother of Jared upon the mount when he talked with the Lord face to face and the marveelus directors which was given to Lehi while in the wilderness on the borders of the red sea and it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old and after that you have obtained faith and have seen them with your eyes you shall testify of them by the power of God and this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith Jr may not be distroyed that I may bring about my rightous purposes unto the children of men in this work and ye shall testify that ye have seen them even as my servant Joseph Smith jr has seen them for it is by my power that he has seen them and it is because he had faith and he has translated them even that part which I have commanded him and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true wherefore you have received the same power and the same faith and the same gift like unto him and if ye do these last commandments of mine which I have given you the gates of hell shall not prevail against you for my grace is sufficient for you and ye shall be lifted up at the Last day and I Jesus Christ your Lord and your God have spoken it unto you that I might bring about my righteous purposes unto the children  of men. Amen
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelation Book 2, pgs 119-120
Revelation to the Witnesses
Joseph Smith, Jr.
June, 1829
   A Revelation to Oliver David and Martin given Fayett sineca co New York given previous to them having a view of the plates &c.
   Behold I say unto you that you must rely upon my word which if you do with full purpose of heart you shall have a view of the plate and also the brestplate the sword of Laban the Urim and Thumim which was given to the brother of Jared upon the mount when he talked with the Lord face to face and the marveelus directors which was given to Lehi while in the wilderness on the borders of the red sea and it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old and after that you have obtained faith and have seen them with your eyes you shall testify of them by the power of God and this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith Jr may not be distroyed that I may bring about my rightous purposes unto the children of men in this work and ye shall testify that ye have seen them even as my servant Joseph Smith jr has seen them for it is by my power that he has seen them and it is because he had faith and he has translated them even that part which I have commanded him and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true wherefore you have received the same power and the same faith and the same gift like unto him and if ye do these last commandments of mine which I have given you the gates of hell shall not prevail against you for my grace is sufficient for you and ye shall be lifted up at the Last day and I Jesus Christ your Lord and your God have spoken it unto you that I might bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men. Amen
(Note:  This is the earliest extant copy of this revelation, found in Revelation Book 2, copied by Frederick G. Williams some time after Nov 25, 1834. The later 1835 printing of the Doctrine and Covenants gives the date of the revelation as June, 1829, seen here.)

   Not many days after the above commandment was given, we four, viz Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and myself, agreed to retire into the woods, and try to obtain by fervent and humble prayer, the fulfilment of the promises given in this revelation; that they should have a view of the plates &c. we accordingly made choice of a piece of woods convenient to Mr Whitmer’s house, to which we retired, and having knelt down, we began to pray in much faith, to Almighty God to bestow upon us a realization of those promises. According to previous arrangement, I commenced by vocal prayer to our Heavenly Father and was folowed by each of the rest in succession; we did not yet however obtain any answer or manifestation of the divine favour in our behalf. We again observed the same order of prayer each calling on and praying fervently to God in rotation; but with the same result as before. Upon this our second failure, Martin Harris proposed that he would withdraw himself from us, believing as he expressed himself that his presence was the cause of our not obtaining what we wished for: He accordingly withdrew from us, and we knelt down again, and had not been many minutes engaged in prayer when presently we beheld a light above us in the air of exceeding brightness, and behold, an angel stood before us; in his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to have a view of: he turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly: He addressed himself to David Whitmer, and said, “David, blessed is the Lord, and he that keeps all his commandments:” when immediately afterwards we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying “These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God; the translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear”.— I now left David and Oliver, and went in pursuit of Martin Harris, who I found at a considerable distance fervently engaged in prayer; he soon told me however that he had not yet prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me, to join him in prayer, that he also might realize the same blessings which we had just recieved: we accordingly joined in prayer, and ultimately obtained our desires, for before we had yet finished, the same vision was opened to our view; at least it was again to me, and I once more beheld, and seen, and heard the same things; whilst at the same moment, Martin Harris cried out, apparently in an ecstasy of Joy “’Tis enough, ’tis enough; mine eyes have beheld, mine eyes have beheld”, and jumping up he shouted, Hosanna, blessing God; and otherwise rejoiced exceedingly. Having thus through the mercy of God, obtained these glorious manifestations, it now remained for these three individuals to fulfil the commandment which they had received, viz: to bear record of these things; in order to accomplish which, they drew up and subscribed the following document.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, 1838–1856, volume A-1, pgs 24-25
The Canonized Account
Joseph Smith, Jr.
1838
   Not many days after the above commandment was given, we four, viz Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and myself, agreed to retire into the woods, and try to obtain by fervent and humble prayer, the fulfilment of the promises given in this revelation; that they should have a view of the plates &c. we accordingly made choice of a piece of woods convenient to Mr Whitmer’s house, to which we retired, and having knelt down, we began to pray in much faith, to Almighty God to bestow upon us a realization of those promises. According to previous arrangement, I commenced by vocal prayer to our Heavenly Father and was folowed by each of the rest in succession; we did not yet however obtain any answer or manifestation of the divine favour in our behalf. We again observed the same order of prayer each calling on and praying fervently to God in rotation; but with the same result as before. Upon this our second failure, Martin Harris proposed that he would withdraw himself from us, believing as he expressed himself that his presence was the cause of our not obtaining what we wished for: He accordingly withdrew from us, and we knelt down again, and had not been many minutes engaged in prayer when presently we beheld a light above us in the air of exceeding brightness, and behold, an angel stood before us; in his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to have a view of: he turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly: He addressed himself to David Whitmer, and said, “David, blessed is the Lord, and he that keeps all his commandments:” when immediately afterwards we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying “These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God; the translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear”.— I now left David and Oliver, and went in pursuit of Martin Harris, who I found at a considerable distance fervently engaged in prayer; he soon told me however that he had not yet prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me, to join him in prayer, that he also might realize the same blessings which we had just recieved: we accordingly joined in prayer, and ultimately obtained our desires, for before we had yet finished, the same vision was opened to our view; at least it was again to me, and I once more beheld, and seen, and heard the same things; whilst at the same moment, Martin Harris cried out, apparently in an ecstasy of Joy “’Tis enough, ’tis enough; mine eyes have beheld, mine eyes have beheld”, and jumping up he shouted, Hosanna, blessing God; and otherwise rejoiced exceedingly. Having thus through the mercy of God, obtained these glorious manifestations, it now remained for these three individuals to fulfil the commandment which they had received, viz: to bear record of these things; in order to accomplish which, they drew up and subscribed the following document.

   The testimony of three witnesses<br>
   Be it known unto all nations kindreds tongues & people unto whom this work shall come that we through the grace of God the Father & our Lord Jesus Christ have seen the plates which contain this record which is a record of the people of Nephi & also of the Lamanites his brethren & also of the people of Jared which came from the tower of which hath been spoken & we also know that they have been translated by the gift & power of God for his voice hath declared it unto us wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true & we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates & they have been shewn unto us by the power of God & not of man & we declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from Heaven & he brought & laid before our eyes that we beheld & saw the plates & the engravings thereon & we know that it is by the grace of God the Father & our Lord Jesus Christ that we beheld & bear record that these things are true & it is marvellous in our eyes nevertheless the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it Wherefore to be obediant unto the commandments of God we bear testimony of these things & we know that if we are faithful in Christ we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men & be found spotless before the Judgement seat of Christ & shall dwell with him Eternally in the Heavens & the honor be to the Father & to the Son & to the Holy Ghost which is one God. Amen.<br>
<br>
Oliver Cowdery<br>
David Whitmer<br>
Martin Harris<br>
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Testimony of Three Witnesses, late June 1829, (Book of Mormon Printer's Manuscript) pgs 463-464
The Testimony of Three Witnesses
Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, David Whitmer
late June, 1829
   The testimony of three witnesses
   Be it known unto all nations kindreds tongues & people unto whom this work shall come that we through the grace of God the Father & our Lord Jesus Christ have seen the plates which contain this record which is a record of the people of Nephi & also of the Lamanites his brethren & also of the people of Jared which came from the tower of which hath been spoken & we also know that they have been translated by the gift & power of God for his voice hath declared it unto us wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true & we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates & they have been shewn unto us by the power of God & not of man & we declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from Heaven & he brought & laid before our eyes that we beheld & saw the plates & the engravings thereon & we know that it is by the grace of God the Father & our Lord Jesus Christ that we beheld & bear record that these things are true & it is marvellous in our eyes nevertheless the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it Wherefore to be obediant unto the commandments of God we bear testimony of these things & we know that if we are faithful in Christ we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men & be found spotless before the Judgement seat of Christ & shall dwell with him Eternally in the Heavens & the honor be to the Father & to the Son & to the Holy Ghost which is one God. Amen.

Oliver Cowdery
David Whitmer
Martin Harris

   “And after that which was not sealed, was translated, the book should again be hid-up, unto the Lord, that it might not be destroyed; and come forth again, in the own due time of him, who knows all things [coming] unto the children of men.”<br>
   “You also wished Mr. Harris to inform you respecting his seeing this book, whether there could not possibly have been some juggling at the bottom of it. A few words on that point may suffice.—<br>
   “It was a clear, open beautiful day, far from any inhabitants, in a remote field, at the time we saw the record, of which it has been spoken, brought and laid before us, by an angel, arrayed in glorious light, [who] ascend [descended I suppose] out of the midst of heaven.”<br>
   “Now if this is human juggling—judge ye.”<br>
   Yours with much esteem,<br>
   OLIVER H. P. COWDERY.
External Link
Gospel Luminary 2, no. 49 (10 Dec. 1829): 194
Letter From Oliver Cowdery
Oliver Cowdery
9 Nov, 1829
   “And after that which was not sealed, was translated, the book should again be hid-up, unto the Lord, that it might not be destroyed; and come forth again, in the own due time of him, who knows all things [coming] unto the children of men.”
   “You also wished Mr. Harris to inform you respecting his seeing this book, whether there could not possibly have been some juggling at the bottom of it. A few words on that point may suffice.—
   “It was a clear, open beautiful day, far from any inhabitants, in a remote field, at the time we saw the record, of which it has been spoken, brought and laid before us, by an angel, arrayed in glorious light, [who] ascend [descended I suppose] out of the midst of heaven.”
   “Now if this is human juggling—judge ye.”
   Yours with much esteem,
   OLIVER H. P. COWDERY.

   In the Investigator, No. 12, Dec. 11, I published, by way of caution, a letter of Oliver H.P. Cowdry, in answer to my letter to Joseph Smith, Jun. Martin Harris, and David Whitmore—the believers in said bible of gold plates—which they affirm they have miraculously, or supernaturally beheld. I sought for evidences, and such as could not be disputed, of the existence of this bible of golden plates. But the answer was—the world must take their words for its existence; and that the book would appear this month.
External Link
Caution Against the Golden Bible, New-York Telescope, Feb 20, 1830, pg 2
Caution Against the Golden Bible
C. C. Blatchley
20 Feb, 1830
   In the Investigator, No. 12, Dec. 11, I published, by way of caution, a letter of Oliver H.P. Cowdry, in answer to my letter to Joseph Smith, Jun. Martin Harris, and David Whitmore—the believers in said bible of gold plates—which they affirm they have miraculously, or supernaturally beheld. I sought for evidences, and such as could not be disputed, of the existence of this bible of golden plates. But the answer was—the world must take their words for its existence; and that the book would appear this month.

   Martin Harris, another chief of the Mormon impostors, arrived here last Saturday from the bible quarry in New York. He immediately planted himself in the bar-room of the hotel, where he soon commenced reading and explaining the Mormon hoax, and all the dark passages from Genesis to Revelations. He told all about the gold plates, Angels, Spirits, and Jo Smith. -- He had seen and handled them all, by the power of God! Curiosity soon drew around thirty or forty spectators, and all who presumed to question his blasphemous pretentions, were pronounced infidels. He was very flippant, talking fast and loud, in order that others could not interpose an opinion counter to his. Every idea that he advanced, he knew to be absolutely true, as he said, by the spirit and power of God. In fine, the bystanders had a fair specimen of the Mormon slang, in this display of one of their head men.
External Link
The Telegraph, Painesville, OH, Vol II, No. 39, March 15, 1831
Martin Harris in Painesville Telegraph
Painesville Telegraph
15 Mar, 1831
   Martin Harris, another chief of the Mormon impostors, arrived here last Saturday from the bible quarry in New York. He immediately planted himself in the bar-room of the hotel, where he soon commenced reading and explaining the Mormon hoax, and all the dark passages from Genesis to Revelations. He told all about the gold plates, Angels, Spirits, and Jo Smith. -- He had seen and handled them all, by the power of God! Curiosity soon drew around thirty or forty spectators, and all who presumed to question his blasphemous pretentions, were pronounced infidels. He was very flippant, talking fast and loud, in order that others could not interpose an opinion counter to his. Every idea that he advanced, he knew to be absolutely true, as he said, by the spirit and power of God. In fine, the bystanders had a fair specimen of the Mormon slang, in this display of one of their head men.

   Whitmar's description of the Book of Mormon, differs entirely from that given by Harris; both of whom it would seem, have been of late permitted, not only to see and handle it, but to examine its contents.  Whitmar relates that he was led by Smith into an open field, on his father’s farm near Waterloo, when they found the book lying on the ground; Smith took it up and requested him to examine it, which he did for the space of half an hour or more, when he returned it to Smith, who placed it in its former position, alledging that the book was in the custody of another, intimating that some Divine agent would have it in safe keeping.<br>
   This witness describes the book as being something like 8 inches square; (our informantdid not recollect precisely,) the leaves were plates of metal of a whitish yellow color, and of thethickness of tin plate; the back was secured with three small rings of the same metal, passing through each leaf in succession;—that the leaves were divided equi-distant, between the back & edge, by cutting the plates in two parts, and united again with solder, so that the front might be opened, as it were by a hinge, while the back part remained stationary and immoveable, and in this manner remained to him and the other witnesses a sealed book, which would not be revealed for ages to come, and that even the prophet himself was not as yet permitted to understand. On opening that portion of the book which was not secured by the seals, he discovered incribed on the aforesaid plates, divers and wonderful characters; some of them large and some small, but beyond the wisdom of man to understand without supernatural aid.<br>
   Some of the other apostles give somewhat similar accounts, but varying in many particulars, according to their various powers of description.-Harris, however, gives the lie to a very important part of Whitmar’s relation, and declares that the leaves or pages of the book are not cut, and a part of them sealed, but that it opens like any other book, from the edge to the back, the rings operating in the place of common binding.<br>
External Link
Gold Bible No 6, The Reflector, Palmyra, NY, Mar 19, 1831, pg 126
David Whitmer and Martin Harris according to Palmyra Newspaper
Abner Cole
19 Mar, 1831
   Whitmar's description of the Book of Mormon, differs entirely from that given by Harris; both of whom it would seem, have been of late permitted, not only to see and handle it, but to examine its contents. Whitmar relates that he was led by Smith into an open field, on his father’s farm near Waterloo, when they found the book lying on the ground; Smith took it up and requested him to examine it, which he did for the space of half an hour or more, when he returned it to Smith, who placed it in its former position, alledging that the book was in the custody of another, intimating that some Divine agent would have it in safe keeping.
   This witness describes the book as being something like 8 inches square; (our informantdid not recollect precisely,) the leaves were plates of metal of a whitish yellow color, and of thethickness of tin plate; the back was secured with three small rings of the same metal, passing through each leaf in succession;—that the leaves were divided equi-distant, between the back & edge, by cutting the plates in two parts, and united again with solder, so that the front might be opened, as it were by a hinge, while the back part remained stationary and immoveable, and in this manner remained to him and the other witnesses a sealed book, which would not be revealed for ages to come, and that even the prophet himself was not as yet permitted to understand. On opening that portion of the book which was not secured by the seals, he discovered incribed on the aforesaid plates, divers and wonderful characters; some of them large and some small, but beyond the wisdom of man to understand without supernatural aid.
   Some of the other apostles give somewhat similar accounts, but varying in many particulars, according to their various powers of description.-Harris, however, gives the lie to a very important part of Whitmar’s relation, and declares that the leaves or pages of the book are not cut, and a part of them sealed, but that it opens like any other book, from the edge to the back, the rings operating in the place of common binding.

No Preview Available
External Link
William E. McLellin Journal, July 18, 1831, pgs 1-2
David Whitmer in William E. McLellin Journal
William E. McLellin
18 July, 1831
   D. Whitmer then arose and bore testimony to having seen an Holy Angel who had made known the truth of the record to him. All these strange things I pondered in my heart.
(Note:  No images of William E. McLellin's journal are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

   You have probably read the testimony of the three witnesses appended to the Book of Mormon.  These witnesses testify that an angel appeared to them, and presented them the golden plates, and the voice of God declared it to be a divine record.  To this they frequently testify, in the presence of large congregations.  When in Missouri, I had an opportunity to examine a commandment given to these witnesses, previous to their seeing the plates.  They were informed that they should see and hear those things by faith, and then they should testify to the world, as though they had seen and heard, as I see a man, and hear his voice: but after all, it amounts simply to this--that by faith or imagination, they saw the plates and the angel, and by faith or imagination they heard the voice of the Lord.
External Link
Mormonism Unvailed, E.D. Howe, pgs 186-87
Ezra Booth Letter
Ezra Booth
Sep, 1831
   You have probably read the testimony of the three witnesses appended to the Book of Mormon. These witnesses testify that an angel appeared to them, and presented them the golden plates, and the voice of God declared it to be a divine record. To this they frequently testify, in the presence of large congregations. When in Missouri, I had an opportunity to examine a commandment given to these witnesses, previous to their seeing the plates. They were informed that they should see and hear those things by faith, and then they should testify to the world, as though they had seen and heard, as I see a man, and hear his voice: but after all, it amounts simply to this--that by faith or imagination, they saw the plates and the angel, and by faith or imagination they heard the voice of the Lord.

   At the same time it was assumed to the uninitiated that it would be immediate death for any except the translators to see the plates. Poor Martin's faith was apparently strengthened by this pretension, but afterward the command was modified, and he claimed to have seen the plates with spiritual eyes.
Full Source
External Link
Origin, rise, and progress of Mormonism, pgs 289-90
Martin Harris in Jesse Townsend Letter
Jesse Townsend
24 Dec, 1833
   At the same time it was assumed to the uninitiated that it would be "immediate death" for any except the translators to see the plates. Poor Martin's faith was apparently strengthened by this pretension, but afterward the "command" was modified, and he claimed to have seen the plates with "spiritual eyes."

   I have reflected long and deliberately upon the history of this church & weighed the evidence for & against it— loth to give it up— but when I came to hear Martin Harris state in a public congregation that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver nor David & also that the eight witnesses never saw them & hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do it, the last pedestal gave way, in my view our foundations was sapped & the entire superstructure fell a heap of ruins...<br>
   ...M Harris arose & said he was sorry for any man who rejected the Book of Mormon for he knew it was true, he said he had hefted the plates repeatedly in a box with only a tablecloth or a handkerchief over them, but he never saw them only as he saw a city through a mountain. And said that he never should have told that the testimony of the eight was false, if it had not been picked out of air but should have let it passed as it was
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Letterbook 2, pg 64
Martin Harris speech in Stephen Burnett Letter
Stephen Burnett
15 Apr, 1838
   I have reflected long and deliberately upon the history of this church & weighed the evidence for & against it— loth to give it up— but when I came to hear Martin Harris state in a public congregation that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver nor David & also that the eight witnesses never saw them & hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do it, the last pedestal gave way, in my view our foundations was sapped & the entire superstructure fell a heap of ruins...
   ...M Harris arose & said he was sorry for any man who rejected the Book of Mormon for he knew it was true, he said he had hefted the plates repeatedly in a box with only a tablecloth or a handkerchief over them, but he never saw them only as he saw a city through a mountain. And said that he never should have told that the testimony of the eight was false, if it had not been picked out of air but should have let it passed as it was

   This poor man who professes to be much of a prophet has no other dumb ass to ride  but David Whitmer to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel, and this ass not being of the same kind of Balaams therefore the angel notwithstanding appeared unto him yet he could not penetrate his understanding sufficiently so but what he brays out cursings instead of blessings. Poor ass
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Letter to the Church in Caldwell County, Missouri, 16 December 1838, pg 2
David Whitmer - Joseph Smith's opinion
Joseph Smith, Jr.
16 Dec, 1838
   This poor man who professes to be much of a prophet has no other dumb ass to ride but David Whitmer to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel, and this ass not being of the same kind of Balaams therefore the angel notwithstanding appeared unto him yet he could not penetrate his understanding sufficiently so but what he brays out cursings instead of blessings. Poor ass

   To know how much this testimony is worth I will state one fact. A gentleman in Palmyra, bred to the law, a professor of religion, and of undoubted veracity told me that on one occasion, he appealed to Harris and asked him directly,-”Did you see those plates?” Harris replied, he did. “Did you see the plates, and the engraving on them with your bodily eyes?” Harris replied, “Yes, I saw them with my eyes,-they were shown unto me by the power of God and not of man.” “But did you see them with your natural,-your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil-case in my hand? Now say no or yes to this.” Harris replied,-”Why I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see any thing around me,-though at the time they were covered over with a cloth.
Full Source
External Link
Gleanings by the way, pgs 256-257
Martin Harris according to John Clark
John A. Clark
24 Aug, 1840
   To know how much this testimony is worth I will state one fact. A gentleman in Palmyra, bred to the law, a professor of religion, and of undoubted veracity told me that on one occasion, he appealed to Harris and asked him directly,-”Did you see those plates?” Harris replied, he did. “Did you see the plates, and the engraving on them with your bodily eyes?” Harris replied, “Yes, I saw them with my eyes,-they were shown unto me by the power of God and not of man.” “But did you see them with your natural,-your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil-case in my hand? Now say no or yes to this.” Harris replied,-”Why I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see any thing around me,-though at the time they were covered over with a cloth.

   I beheld with my eyes and handled with my hands the gold plates from which it was translated. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the 'holy interpreters.' That book is true.
External Link
Reuben Miller Journal, Oct. 21, 1848, Church History Library, pg 16
Oliver Cowdery according to Reuben Miller journal
Reuben Miller
21 Oct, 1848
   I beheld with my eyes and handled with my hands the gold plates from which it was translated. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the 'holy interpreters.' That book is true.

   Man is here like a feather trembling between the two, liable continually to be operated upon by the power of the enemy; and it is through that power that the children of men are made to doubt the evidences of their own senses, when, at the same time, if they would reflect for a moment and listen to the intelligence which God has placed within them, they would know, when they saw what is termed a miracle, the power by which it is wrought: they would know when they have seen with their eyes and felt with their hands, or when they have had a heavenly vision.<br>
   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. One of the Quorum of the Twelve-a young man full of faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy, and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 7, pgs 163-64
Brigham Young Discourse
Brigham Young
5 Jun, 1859
   Man is here like a feather trembling between the two, liable continually to be operated upon by the power of the enemy; and it is through that power that the children of men are made to doubt the evidences of their own senses, when, at the same time, if they would reflect for a moment and listen to the intelligence which God has placed within them, they would know, when they saw what is termed a miracle, the power by which it is wrought: they would know when they have seen with their eyes and felt with their hands, or when they have had a heavenly vision.
   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. One of the Quorum of the Twelve-a young man full of faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy, and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition.

   In the year 1870, I was called to perform a mission to the United States, and in the course of my journey I called at Kirtland, Ohio, to see the Temple, this being the first one built by the Latter-day Saints. It was at this time that I met Martin Harris again, after a lapse of thirty-six years. It was customary for him to avail himself of every opportunity to bear testimony to all strangers, and those visiting Kirtland and the Temple, believing it to be his special duty to do so, as he had been commanded by the angel of the Lord. It certainly was a great pleasure to me to find him still constant in his testimony... He seemed impressed, and said whatever befell him he knew that Joseph was a Prophet, for he had not only proved it from the Bible but that he had stood with him in the presence of an angel, and he also knew that the Twelve Apostles were chosen of God... In 1871... I called for my charge at Kirtland, Ohio, finding Martin Harris anxiously waiting...<br>
   The following day, Sunday, after my arrival in Kirtland, the Temple was opened to me with permission to preach in it, and a vote was taken for a second meeting in the afternoon, which was well attended. At our hotel in Chicago, where we laid over one day, Martin bore his testimony to several crowds gathered around to see the man who had seen an angel. All seemed astonished to hear him relate the vision with a force and will hard to gainsay.<br>
   On our arrival at Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, where there was a Branch of the Church presided over by J. M. Ballinger, we rested a few days, and a new suit of clothes very much helped the feelings and appearances of the old gentleman. I took him to the leading newspaper office of the capital, and after being questioned, Martin bore his testimony to the editor and others, which was published with very favorable notice of the remarkable man who claimed to have stood in the presence of an angel in this our day. It was remarked that he was bright and smart for one of his years (about eighty). Martin also bore his testimony at a meeting, the audience listening to him with marked attention. The following day we baptized a Mrs. Fifield, in the Des Moines river, and proceeded on our journey to Salt Lake City, where Martin Harris bore his testimony in the Tabernacle to a densely crowded house, and was listened to with almost breathless silence. Here again I was witness once more to the faithful, earnest testimony of his standing in the presence of the angel, hearing his voice and seeing the plates, &c. He accompanied me to several other meetings, and every time he was unequivocating in his firmness and testimony. Many interesting incidents were related by Martin on our journey, one of which I will relate. He said that on one occasion several of his old acquaintances made an effort to get him tipsy by treating him to some wine. When they thought he was in a good mood for talk they put the question very carefully to him, Well, now, Martin, we want you to be frank and candid with us in regard to this story of your seeing an angel and the golden plates of the Book of Mormon that are so much talked about. We have always taken you to be an honest good farmer and neighbor of ours but could not believe that you did see an angel. Now, Martin, do you really believe that you did see an angel, when you were awake? No, said Martin, I do not believe it. The crowd were delighted, but soon a different feeling prevailed, as Martin true to his trust, said, Gentlemen, what I have said is true, from the fact that my belief is swallowed up in knowledge; for I want to say to you that as the Lord lives I do know that I stood with the Prophet Joseph Smith in the presence of the angel, and it was the brightness of day. Martin Harris related this circumstance to me substantially as I give it, adding that, although he drank wine with them as friends, he always believed in temperance and sobriety.
Full Source
External Link
Millenial Star, Vol 48, pgs 366-67
Martin Harris according to Edward Stevenson
Edward Stevenson
7 Jun, 1886
   In the year 1870, I was called to perform a mission to the United States, and in the course of my journey I called at Kirtland, Ohio, to see the Temple, this being the first one built by the Latter-day Saints. It was at this time that I met Martin Harris again, after a lapse of thirty-six years. It was customary for him to avail himself of every opportunity to bear testimony to all strangers, and those visiting Kirtland and the Temple, believing it to be his special duty to do so, as he had been commanded by the angel of the Lord. It certainly was a great pleasure to me to find him still constant in his testimony... He seemed impressed, and said whatever befell him he knew that Joseph was a Prophet, for he had not only proved it from the Bible but that he had stood with him in the presence of an angel, and he also knew that the Twelve Apostles were chosen of God... In 1871... I called for my charge at Kirtland, Ohio, finding Martin Harris anxiously waiting...
   The following day, Sunday, after my arrival in Kirtland, the Temple was opened to me with permission to preach in it, and a vote was taken for a second meeting in the afternoon, which was well attended. At our hotel in Chicago, where we laid over one day, Martin bore his testimony to several crowds gathered around to see "the man who had seen an angel." All seemed astonished to hear him relate the vision with a force and will hard to gainsay.
   On our arrival at Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, where there was a Branch of the Church presided over by J. M. Ballinger, we rested a few days, and a new suit of clothes very much helped the feelings and appearances of the old gentleman. I took him to the leading newspaper office of the capital, and after being questioned, Martin bore his testimony to the editor and others, which was published with very favorable notice of the remarkable man who claimed to have stood in the presence of an angel in this our day. It was remarked that he was bright and smart for one of his years (about eighty). Martin also bore his testimony at a meeting, the audience listening to him with marked attention. The following day we baptized a Mrs. Fifield, in the Des Moines river, and proceeded on our journey to Salt Lake City, where Martin Harris bore his testimony in the Tabernacle to a densely crowded house, and was listened to with almost breathless silence. Here again I was witness once more to the faithful, earnest testimony of his standing in the presence of the angel, hearing his voice and seeing the plates, &c. He accompanied me to several other meetings, and every time he was unequivocating in his firmness and testimony. Many interesting incidents were related by Martin on our journey, one of which I will relate. He said that on one occasion several of his old acquaintances made an effort to get him tipsy by treating him to some wine. When they thought he was in a good mood for talk they put the question very carefully to him, "Well, now, Martin, we want you to be frank and candid with us in regard to this story of your seeing an angel and the golden plates of the Book of Mormon that are so much talked about. We have always taken you to be an honest good farmer and neighbor of ours but could not believe that you did see an angel. Now, Martin, do you really believe that you did see an angel, when you were awake?" No, said Martin, I do not believe it. The crowd were delighted, but soon a different feeling prevailed, as Martin true to his trust, said, "Gentlemen, what I have said is true, from the fact that my belief is swallowed up in knowledge; for I want to say to you that as the Lord lives I do know that I stood with the Prophet Joseph Smith in the presence of the angel, and it was the brightness of day." Martin Harris related this circumstance to me substantially as I give it, adding that, although he drank wine with them as friends, he always believed in temperance and sobriety.

   Mr. Emerson, Sir: -- I received your favor. In reply I will say concerning the plates: I do say that the angel did show me the plates containing the Book of Mormon. Further, the translation that I carried to Prof. Anthon was copied from these same plates; also, that the professor did testify to it being a correct translation.
Full Source
External Link
Correspondence, The Saints' Herald, 1875, Vol 22, Pg 630
Martin Harris First Letter to H. B. Emerson
Martin Harris
23 Nov, 1870
   Mr. Emerson, Sir: -- I received your favor. In reply I will say concerning the plates: I do say that the angel did show me the plates containing the Book of Mormon. Further, the translation that I carried to Prof. Anthon was copied from these same plates; also, that the professor did testify to it being a correct translation.

   Question 1. Did you go to England to lecture against Mormonism?<br>
   Answer. I answer emphatically, No, I did not.  No man ever heard me in any way deny the truth of the Book of Mormon, the administration of the angel that showed me the plates; nor the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, under the administration of Joseph Smith Jun., the prophet whom the Lord raised up for that purpose, in these the latter days, that he may show forth his power and glory. The Lord has shown me these things by his Spirit, by the administration of holy angels, and confirmed the same with signs following, step by step, as the work has progressed, for the space of fifty-three years.
Full Source
External Link
Correspondence, The Saints' Herald, 1875, Vol 22, Pg 630
Martin Harris Second Letter to H. B. Emerson
Martin Harris
January, 1871
   Question 1. "Did you go to England to lecture against Mormonism?"
   Answer. I answer emphatically, No, I did not. No man ever heard me in any way deny the truth of the Book of Mormon, the administration of the angel that showed me the plates; nor the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, under the administration of Joseph Smith Jun., the prophet whom the Lord raised up for that purpose, in these the latter days, that he may show forth his power and glory. The Lord has shown me these things by his Spirit, by the administration of holy angels, and confirmed the same with signs following, step by step, as the work has progressed, for the space of fifty-three years.

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Deseret News, Wednesday, 16 October 1872, 21/37
David Whitmer according to J. J. Thayne
J. J. Thayne
16 Oct, 1872
   He brought twenty-two persons back with him, [one of whom] is Mr. John Lefler, who, it will be remembered, inquired of Bishop Moon, while the latter was on his mission last year, concerning of the Book of Mormon, and to satisfy himself, he in company with Bro. Moon, visited Mr. David Whitmer, one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, and heard him bear testimony that he saw the angel of God and heard him declare that the plates were a divine record.
(Note:  No images of this edition of the Deseret News are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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Martin Harris according to Ole A. Jensen
Ole A. Jensen
July, 1875
   One morning in July I thought I would go to see Brother Harris. He lived about three blocks from my home and I had heard that he was not well. People were coming from far and near to see him and hear his testimony.
   When I arrived I found two other men present--Brother James Joseph Keep and Brother John Godfrey. Brother Harris lay in bed resting on his elbow. “How are you Brother Harris?” I asked. “Oh, pretty well” he replied.
   “We came to hear your testimony of the Book of Mormon,” I said. He raised up and said, “Yes, I wish I could make the whole world hear my Testimony. ”He stretched out his arm and said, “Brothers I believe there is an angel here to hear what I am going to say to you and you will never forget what I say.”
   “The Prophet Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and myself went into a small grove to pray to obtain a promise that we should behold with our own eyes that we could testify to the whole world.At length the angel stood before Oliver and David with the plates in his hand.I had gone a little apart to pray, and in my desperation I asked the prophet to kneel and pray with me.He did so and immediately the angel stood before me and said, “LOOK.” When I glanced at him I fell to the ground but immediately got up and saw the angel turn the leaves of the golden plates over and I said, “IT IS ENOUGH MY LORD AND MY GOD.” I then heard the voice of God say, “THE BOOK OF MORMON IS TRUE AND TRANSLATED CORRECTLY.”
   Brother Harris then turned over as if he had no more to say and we made ready to leave. He spoke again and said, “I will tell you of the most wonderful thing that happened, after Joseph received the plates. Three of us, myself and two more, took some tools and went to the hill to dig for more plates of gold or something and indeed we found a stone box. We got quite excited and dug around it very carefully and just when we were ready to lift it up out of the hole, some unseen power slid it back into the hill. We stood and looked at it and one of us tried to drive a crowbar through the lid to hold it, but the crowbar glanced off and the corner of the lid was chipped off.
   Sometime that box will be found and you will find one corner of the lid broken and you will know that I have spoken the truth. Brother’s just as sure as you are standing here and see me, just so sure did we see the Angel with the golden plates in his hand. He showed them to me and I promised I would bear witness of this truth both here and hereafter.”
   His lips really trembled and tears came to my eyes. I should have liked to ask more, but did not do so. I refreshed myself, shook hands, thanked him and left.
(Note:  This is a recollection of Martin Harris by Ole A. Jensen recorded in Clarkson, UT in July 1875, the same month that Martin Harris died. The recorded manuscript was apparently signed by Jensen, James Joseph Keep, and John Godfrey. No images of the document are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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Their Subsequent History, The Salt Lake Daily Tribune, October 6, 1875, Vol 9, No 147
Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer according to William E. McLellin
John Hanson Beadle
6 Oct, 1875
   Oliver Cowdery, first witness of the Book of Mormon, after being "cut off for lying, counterfeiting and immorality," turned his attention to law and real estate in which his success was only average. It was a favorite practice with him when half drunk to preach a Mormon sermon. When visited by any of the Saints, or a stranger, he invariably asserted the truth of his "testimony;" but among his friends privately he admitted that it was "all a bottle of smoke." He died in Richmond, Ray county, and Elizabeth, his wife, afterward married an old farmer, with whom she is living up in Iowa -- "fair, fat and sixty," and not caring much about Mormonism.
   David Whitmer, second witness, still lives in Richmond -- a well to do livery man and stock dealer, accounted by all the citizens a perfect gentleman. He generally refuses to talk about Mormonism, but when hard pressed by interviewers insists that "an angel showed him the plates." Privately he informs his friends that his statement is true, but he means Mr. John Angell, a neighbor of the Smiths! The "curse" don't appear to have got him bad, but there is no telling what may happen. It would be a great card for some missionary from Salt Lake to restore the old man and bring him to Utah, as Stevenson did Martin Harris; but as Whitmer is rich, while Harris was a pauper, he might not be so easily restored.
(Note:  No images of this edition of the Tribune are available online. Please contact me if you have any informtion.)

   Elder O. P. Do you remember what time you saw the plates?<br>
   D. W. It was in June, 1829-the latter part of the month, and the eight witnesses saw them, I think, the next day or the day after. (i. e. one or two days after).  Joseph showed them the plates himself, but the angel showed us (the three witnesses) the plates, as I suppose to fulfil the words of the book itself.  Martin Harris was not with us at this time; he obtained a view of them afterwards, (the same day). Joseph, Oliver and myself were together when I saw them.  We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon but also the brass plates, the plates of the Book of Ether, the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the people of the world down to the time of their being engraved, and many other plates.  The fact is, it was just as though Joseph, Oliver and I were sitting just here on a log, when we were overshadowed by a light.  It was not like the light of the sun nor like that of a fire, but more glorious and beautiful.  It extended away round us, I cannot tell how far, but in the midst of this light about as far off as he sits (pointing to John C. Whitmer, sitting a few feet from him), there appeared as it were, a table with many records or plates upon it, besides the plates of the Book of Mormon, also the Sword of Laban, the directors-i. e., the ball which Lehi had, and the Interpreters.  I saw them just as plain as I see this bed (striking the bed beside him with his hand), and I heard the voice of the Lord, as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life, declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God.<br>
   Elder O. P.  Did you see the Angel at this time?<br>
   D. W. Yes; he stood before us.  Our testimony as recorded in the Book of Mormon is strictly and absolutely true, just as it is there written.
Full Source
External Link
Millenial Star, 9 Dec, 1878, Vol 40, pgs 771-772
David Whitmer interview with Orson Pratt
Orson Pratt
7 Sep, 1878
   Elder O. P. Do you remember what time you saw the plates?
   D. W. It was in June, 1829-the latter part of the month, and the eight witnesses saw them, I think, the next day or the day after. (i. e. one or two days after). Joseph showed them the plates himself, but the angel showed us (the three witnesses) the plates, as I suppose to fulfil the words of the book itself. Martin Harris was not with us at this time; he obtained a view of them afterwards, (the same day). Joseph, Oliver and myself were together when I saw them. We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon but also the brass plates, the plates of the Book of Ether, the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the people of the world down to the time of their being engraved, and many other plates. The fact is, it was just as though Joseph, Oliver and I were sitting just here on a log, when we were overshadowed by a light. It was not like the light of the sun nor like that of a fire, but more glorious and beautiful. It extended away round us, I cannot tell how far, but in the midst of this light about as far off as he sits (pointing to John C. Whitmer, sitting a few feet from him), there appeared as it were, a table with many records or plates upon it, besides the plates of the Book of Mormon, also the Sword of Laban, the directors-i. e., the ball which Lehi had, and the Interpreters. I saw them just as plain as I see this bed (striking the bed beside him with his hand), and I heard the voice of the Lord, as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life, declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God."
   Elder O. P. Did you see the Angel at this time?
   D. W. Yes; he stood before us. Our testimony as recorded in the Book of Mormon is strictly and absolutely true, just as it is there written.

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Hamiltonian, Hamilton, Mo, Jan. 21, 1881
David Whitmer Interview with John Murphy
John Murphy
June, 1880
[Murphy]: "First of all, I heard you saw an angel. I never saw one. I want your description of [the] shape, voice, brogue and the construction of his language. I mean as to his style of speaking. You know that we can often determine the class a man belongs to by his language."
[Whitmer]: "It had no appearance or shape."
[Murphy]: "Then you saw nothing nor heard nothing?"
[Whitmer]: "Nothing, in the way you understand it."
[Murphy]: "How, then, could you have borne testimony that you saw and heard an angel?"
[Whitmer]: "Have you never had impressions?"
[Murphy]: "Then you had impressions as the quaker when the spirit moves, or as a good Methodist in giving a happy experience, a feeling?"
[Whitmer]: "Just so."
(Note:  No images of this edition of the Hamiltonian are available online. This article was reprinted in the Kingston Times on December 16, 1887, which can be read here. Please contact me if you have any information regarding this source.)

   Unto all Nations, Kindreds, tongues and people unto whom this present Shall come. It having been represented by one John Murphy of Polo Mo. that I in a conversation with him last Summer, denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. To the end therefore, that he may understand me now if he did not then, and that the world may know the truth, I wish now standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public Statement; That I have never at any time, denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that book as one of the three witnesses. Those who know me best, well know that I have adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do now again affirm the truth of all my statement, as then made and published. He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear; It was no Delusion. What is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand.
External Link
Richmond Conservator, 24 March, 1881
David Whitmer Rebuttal to John Murphy
David Whitmer
19 Mar, 1881
   Unto all Nations, Kindreds, tongues and people unto whom this present Shall come. It having been represented by one John Murphy of Polo Mo. that I in a conversation with him last Summer, denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. To the end therefore, that he may understand me now if he did not then, and that the world may know the truth, I wish now standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public Statement; That I have never at any time, denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that book as one of the three witnesses. Those who know me best, well know that I have adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do now again affirm the truth of all my statement, as then made and published. He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear; It was no Delusion. What is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand.
(Note:  No images of the original publication in the Richmond Conservator are available online. This typescript is available on Wikisource. David Whitmer reprinted this letter in his "An Address to all Believers in Christ in 1887," which can be read here. )

   Now as to whether Cowdery ever openly denounced Mormonism, let me say this to you: No man ever knew better than he how to keep one's own counsel. He would never allow any man to drag him into a conversation on the subject. Cowdery was a Democrat and a most powerful advocate of the principles of the party on the stump. For this he became the target of the Whig stumpers and press, who denounced him as a Mormon and made free use of Cowdery's certificate at the end of the Mormon Bible to crush his influence. He suffered great abuse for this, while he lived here on that account.
Full Source
External Link
Anti-Mormon Tracts No. 9, 1906, pgs 12-14
Oliver Cowdery in Judge W. Lang Letter
Judge W. Lang
5 Nov, 1881
   Now as to whether Cowdery ever "openly denounced Mormonism," let me say this to you: No man ever knew better than he how to keep one's own counsel. He would never allow any man to drag him into a conversation on the subject. Cowdery was a Democrat and a most powerful advocate of the principles of the party on the stump. For this he became the target of the Whig stumpers and press, who denounced him as a Mormon and made free use of Cowdery's certificate at the end of the Mormon Bible to crush his influence. He suffered great abuse for this, while he lived here on that account.
(Note:  This letter was printed in 1906 in Grayson Kentucky by Reverend Robert B. Neal as part of a tract called "Anti-Mormon Tracts No. 9." William Lang was an apprentice under Oliver Cowdery in Tiffin Ohio from 1840 to 1842, and died on Jan 21, 1893. No copies of the original letter are known to be extant, and no images of the Neal tracts are available online. It was reprinted in 1914 in The True Origin of the Book of Mormon, which can be read here. Other documents printed by Neal are suspected to be forgeries.)

   We asked him if his testimony was the same now as it was at the time the Book of Mormon was published, regarding seeing the plates and the angel. He rose to his feet, stretched out his hands and said: These hands handled the plates, these eyes saw the angel, and these ears heard his voice; and I know it was of God.
Full Source
External Link
The Saints' Herald, Vol 29, No 12, pg 189
David Whitmer according to J. W. Chatburn
J. W. Chatburn
15 Jun, 1882
   We asked him if his testimony was the same now as it was at the time the Book of Mormon was published, regarding seeing the plates and the angel. He rose to his feet, stretched out his hands and said: "These hands handled the plates, these eyes saw the angel, and these ears heard his voice; and I know it was of God."

   I was well acquainted with Martin Harris, who was often at my house for days at a time. I have questioned him much about the plates from which the Book of Mormon purports to have been translated. He never claimed to have seen them with his natural eyes, only spiritual vision.
Full Source
External Link
Naked Truths About Mormonism, Vol 1, No 2, pg 1, col 5
Martin Harris in Reuben P. Harmon Statement
Reuben P. Harmon
16 Dec, 1884
   I was well acquainted with Martin Harris, who was often at my house for days at a time. I have questioned him much about the plates from which the "Book of Mormon" purports to have been translated. He never claimed to have seen them with his natural eyes, only spiritual vision.

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David Whitmer, interview by Zenas H. Gurley Jr., 14 Jan. 1885, typescript, LDS archives.
David Whitmer Interview with Zenas H. Gurley
Zenas H. Gurley
14 Jan, 1885
   1 Q -- Do you know that the plates seen with the Angel (on the table) were real metal, did you touch them?
   Ans We did not touch nor handle the plates.

   2 Q -- Was the table literal wood; or was the whole a vision such as often occurs in dreams &c?
   Ans -- The table had the appearance of literal wood as shown in the vision, in the glory of God.

   3 Q -- Did you see the Urim and Thummim, what was it?
   Ans -- I saw the "Interpreters" in the holy vision, They looked like whitish stones put in the rim of a bow, looked like spectacles only much larger.

   ...9 Q. Who was the Angel that showed the plates to you and Cowdery and have these plates been seen since?
   Ans -- I do not know as no name was given. I have never seen the plates since.
(Note:  This comes from a typescript of the personal notes of Zenas Gurley taken in Richmond, Missouri in 1885 as part of the Gurley Collection in the LDS archives. An image of the typescript is not available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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Moyle diary, June 28, 1885
David Whitmer according to James Moyle diary
James Henry Moyle
28 Jun, 1885
   Mr. D. Withmer Sen did not handel the plates. Only seen them, says Martin Haris and Cowdry did so they say! Says he did see them and the angel and heard him speak. But that was indiscribable that it was through the power of God (and was possibly [in the spirit] at least) he then spoke of Paul hearing and seeing Christ but his associates did not. Because it is only seen in the Spirit.
   I was not fully satisfied with the ex=planation. It was more spiritual than I anticipated.
(Note:  No images of James Moyle's diary are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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Nathan Tanner, Jr., Journal, 13 May 1886, LDS Church History Library, pgs 54-55
David Whitmer according to Nathan Tanner
Nathan Tanner, Jr
13 May, 1886
   He then explained that he saw the plates and with his natural eyes, but he had to be prepared for it—that he and the other witnesses were overshadowed by the power of God and a halo of brightness indescribable
(Note:  No images of Tanner's journal are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

   It was not long after this incident that Whitmer while plowing in the field one afternoon, was visited by Smith and Oliver Cowdery who requested him to accompany them into the woods for the purpose of witnessing a manifestation which should qualify him and Cowdery to testify as witnesses of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon; for Smith explained that this action was in pursuance of clearly defined instructions received from an angel of the Lord. The woods were not distant more than a stone's throw from the farm house and thither they repaired and engaged in fervent prayer. All of a sudden, Mr. Whitmer says, he beheld a dazzlingly brilliant light that surpassed in brightness even the sun at noonday and which seemed to envelope the woods for a considerable distance around. Simultaneous with the light came a strange entrancing influence which permeated him so powerfully that he felt chained to the spot, while he also experienced a sensation of joy absolutely indescribable. While trying to realize what had come over him, there appeared immediately in front of the little party, a personage clothed in white, and near him a table containing a number of gold plates, some brass plates, the urim and thummum, the sword of Laban, and some other articles. Whitmer and Cowdery were requested by the personage to examine these things, and after the inspection they were told that the Lord would demand of them that they bear witness to all the world. Mr. Whitmer describes every detail of the vision with great precision and much fervency, and insists that he handled and scrutinized the plates, and that the form and appearance of the strangely engraved characters were so impressed upon his memory that he would never forget them.
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The Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, IL, 17 Oct, 1886, Vol 15, No 207, pg 17
David Whitmer in Chicago Newspaper
David Whitmer
17 Oct, 1886
   It was not long after this incident that Whitmer while plowing in the field one afternoon, was visited by Smith and Oliver Cowdery who requested him to accompany them into the woods for the purpose of witnessing a manifestation which should qualify him and Cowdery to testify as witnesses of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon; for Smith explained that this action was in pursuance of clearly defined instructions received from an angel of the Lord. The woods were not distant more than a stone's throw from the farm house and thither they repaired and engaged in "fervent prayer." All of a sudden, Mr. Whitmer says, he beheld a dazzlingly brilliant light that surpassed in brightness even the sun at noonday and which seemed to envelope the woods for a considerable distance around. Simultaneous with the light came a strange entrancing influence which permeated him so powerfully that he felt chained to the spot, while he also experienced a sensation of joy absolutely indescribable. While trying to realize what had come over him, there appeared immediately in front of the little party, a personage clothed in white, and near him a table containing a number of gold plates, some brass plates, the urim and thummum, the sword of Laban, and some other articles. Whitmer and Cowdery were requested by the personage to examine these things, and after the inspection they were told that the Lord would demand of them that they bear witness to all the world. Mr. Whitmer describes every detail of the "vision" with great precision and much fervency, and insists that he handled and scrutinized the plates, and that the form and appearance of the strangely engraved characters were so impressed upon his memory that he would never forget them.

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Letter from Elizabeth Ann Whitmer Cowdery to her brother David Whitmer, 8 Mar, 1887
Oliver Cowdery, according to his wife
Elizabeth Ann Whitmer Cowdery
8 Mar, 1887
   Dear Brother David:--I, Elizabeth Cowdery, wife of Oliver Cowdery, do make the following statements: That my husband, Oliver Cowdery, bore his testimony to the truth and divine origin of the Book of Mormon, as one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon; as to his standing on doctrine he stood where he did when he preached the first sermon; that was preached in the last days in the Church of Christ in 1829, when the Bible and the Book of Mormon alone were the guide to the faith of the church. From the hour when the glorious vision of the Holy Messenger revealed to mortal eyes the hidden prophecies which God had promised his faithful followers should come forth in due time, until the moment when he passed away from earth. He always without one doubt or shudder of turning affirmed the divinity and truth of the Book of Mormon. "God's promises never fail."

   From your Sister,

   Elizabeth Cowdery.
(Note:  No images of this letter are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

   If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, so should it be done unto them.
Full Source
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An Address To All Believers in Christ, 1887, pg 27
David Whitmer - An Address to All Believers in Christ
David Whitmer
1887
   If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to "separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, so should it be done unto them."

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Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, pgs 70-71
Martin Harris Interview with Anthony Metcalf
Anthony Metcalf
1888
   "I never saw the golden plates, only in a visionary or entranced state. I wrote a great deal of the Book of Mormon myself, as Joseph Smith translated or spelled the words out in English. Sometimes the plates would be on a table in the room in which Smith did the translating, covered over with a cloth. I was told by Smith that God would strike him dead if he attempted to look at them, and I believed it. When the time came for the three witnesses to see the plates, Joseph Smith, myself, David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery, went into the woods to pray. When they had engaged in prayer, they failed at the time to see the plates or the angel who should have been on hand to exhibit them. They all believed it was because I was not good enough, or in other words, not sufficiently sanctified. I withdrew. As soon as I had gone away, the three others saw the angel and the plates. In about three days I went into the woods to pray that I might see the plates. While praying I passed into a state of entrancement, and in that state I saw the angel and the plates."
(Note:  No images of this publication are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, pgs 70-71
David Whitmer Interview with Anthony Metcalf
David Whitmer
1888
   In regards to my testimony to the visitation of the angel, who declared to us three witnesses that the Book of Mormon is true, I have this to say: Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view, for no man can behold the face of an angel, except in a spiritual view, but we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us, as it is at any time. Martin Harris, you say, called it 'being in vision.' We read in the Scriptures, Cornelius saw, in a vision, an angel of God. Daniel saw an angel in a vision; also in other places it states they saw an angel in the spirit. A bright light enveloped us where we were, that filled at noon day, and there in a vision, or in the spirit, we saw and heard just as it is stated in my testimony in the Book of Mormon. I am now passed eighty-two years old, and I have a brother, J. J. Snyder, to do my writing for me, at my dictation.
(signed) David Whitmer
(Note:  No images of this publication are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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Memorandum, made by John H. Gilbert, Esq., Sept. 8th, 1892, Palmyra, N.Y.
Martin Harris according to John H. Gilbert
John H. Gilbert
8 Sep, 1892
   Martin was in the office when I finished setting up the testimony of the three witnesses,—(Harris—Cowdery and Whitmer) I said to him,—"Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?" Martin looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, "No, I saw them with a spiritual eye."
(Note:  No images of this document are available online. It appears to have at one time been located at the King's Daughters Library in Palmyra, which appears to have been permanently closed. It was quoted in the Millennial Star on October 29, 1942 which can be read here. Please contact me if you have any information on images of the present whereabouts of this source.)

   Finally Oliver Cowdery arose, calm as a summer morning. I was within three feet of him. There was no hesitation, no fear, no anger in his voice, as he said: May it please the court, and gentlemen of the jury, my brother attorney on the other side has charged me with connection with Joseph Smith and the golden Bible. The responsibility has been placed upon me, and I cannot escape reply.… Before God and man I dare not deny what I have said, and what my testimony contains and as written and printed on the front page of the Book of Mormon. May it please your honor and gentlemen of the jury, this I say, I saw the angel and heard his voice—how can I deny it? It happened in the daytime when the sun was shining bright in the firmament; not in the night when I was asleep. That glorious messenger from heaven, dressed in white, standing above the ground, in a glory I have never seen anything to compare, with the sun insignificant in comparison, and these personages told us if we denied that testimony there is no forgiveness in this life nor in the world to come. Now how can I deny it—I dare not; I will not!
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Testimony of Oliver Cowdery, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, UT, 21 Feb, 1910, Vol 59
Oliver Cowdery according to Judge C. M. Nielsen
Charles M. Nielsen
20 Feb, 1910
   Finally Oliver Cowdery arose, calm as a summer morning. I was within three feet of him. There was no hesitation, no fear, no anger in his voice, as he said: "May it please the court, and gentlemen of the jury, my brother attorney on the other side has charged me with connection with Joseph Smith and the golden Bible. The responsibility has been placed upon me, and I cannot escape reply.… Before God and man I dare not deny what I have said, and what my testimony contains and as written and printed on the front page of the Book of Mormon. May it please your honor and gentlemen of the jury, this I say, I saw the angel and heard his voice—how can I deny it? It happened in the daytime when the sun was shining bright in the firmament; not in the night when I was asleep. That glorious messenger from heaven, dressed in white, standing above the ground, in a glory I have never seen anything to compare, with the sun insignificant in comparison, and these personages told us if we denied that testimony there is no forgiveness in this life nor in the world to come. Now how can I deny it—I dare not; I will not!"
(Note:  This published account was largely drawn from an affidavit made by Nielson in Salt Lake City on December 3, 1909, which is not available online. It is a recollection of an account given by an unnamed farmer Nielson met during his mission in 1883. In a November 14, 1899 letter written to Heber J. Grant, Nielson identified this man as Robert Barrington, who claimed he was 21 at the time he witnessed this event, which would have been approximately 1840. Please contact me if you have any other information regarding this source.)

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“Testimony of Martin Harris,” George Godfrey, 29 Oct, 1921
Martin Harris Deathbed Statement
Martin Harris
29 Oct, 1921
   The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon is written. An angel appeared to me and others and testified to the truthfulness of the record, and had I been willing to have perjured myself and sworn falsely to the testimony I now bear I could have been a rich man, but I could not have testified other than I have done and am now doing for these things are true.
(Note:  This statement is quoted in "Testimony of Martin Harris" by George Godfrey, from an unpublished document which was held at one time by John J. Shumway of Garland, UT who died in 1973, and at one time by Florence G. Munson of Fielding, UT, who died in 1993. Please contact me if you have any information on the present whereabouts of the original document.)

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Martin Harris according to Robert Aveson
Robert Aveson
2 Apr, 1927
   It is not a mere belief, but is a matter of knowledge. I saw the plates and the inscriptions thereon. I saw the angel, and he showed them unto me.
(Note:  It is indicated that Aveson recalled this from an interview in 1874. No images of this edition of the Deseret News appear to be available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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The Saints' Herald, 28 Jan, 1936, Vol 83, pgs 113-114
David Whitmer according to Joseph Smith III
Joseph Smith III
28 Jan, 1936
   The colonel, in an affable and friendly manner, discussed with Elder Whitmer the evidence the latter had borne as a special witness to the divinity of the Book of Mormon. Rather suggestively he asked if it might not have been possible that he, Mr. Whitmer, had been mistaken and had simply been moved upon by some mental disturbance,or hallucination, which had deceived him into thinking he saw the Personage, the Angel, the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the sword of Laban.
   How well and distinctly I remember the manner in which Elder Whitmer arose and drew himself up to his full height--a little over six feet--and said, in solemn and impressive tones:
   "No sir! I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived! I saw with these eyes and I heard with these ears! I know whereof I speak!"
(Note:  This exchange occurred in 1884. No images of this edition of the Saints' Herald are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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Statement of William M. Glenn to O.E. Fischbacher, Deseret News, 2 Oct, 1943
Martin Harris according to William M. Glenn
William M. Glenn
30 May, 1943
   Gentlemen, do you see that hand? Are you sure you see it? are your eyes playing you a trick or something? No. Well, as sure as you see my hand so sure did I see the angel and the plates.
(Note:  William M. Glenn was 12 years old at the time he overheard this conversation. No images of this edition of the Deseret News appear to be available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

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Assorted Gems of Priceless Value, 1944, pg 351
Martin Harris according to Comfort Elizabeth Godfrey Flinders
Comfort Elizabeth Godfrey Flinders
2 Sep, 1943
   Well, just as plain as you see that chopping block, I saw the plates; and sooner than I would deny it I would lay my head upon that chopping block and let you chop it off.
(Note:  This was a statement attributed to Martin Harris made by Comfort Elizabeth Godfrey Flinders to N. B. Lundwall, author of Assorted Gems of Priceless Value on September 2, 1943. Flinders was born in 1861, fourteen years before the death of Martin Harris.)

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