Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

William Smith: An Often-Overlooked Witness for the Book of Mormon and Joseph's Divine Calling

William Smith, the-not-too-religious younger brother of Joseph Smith, was recently invoked by a commenter here in an effort to impugn the testimony of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Before I deal with some confusion about a quote from William, let me point out that he is an interesting and often-overlooked witness for the reality of the gold plates and the divinity of Joseph Smith's divine calling. A useful resource on this topic is "The Trustworthiness of Young Joseph Smith" by Richard Lloyd Anderson, The Improvement Era, Vol. 73, No. 10 (October 1970). Here is an excerpt from the article (footnotes deleted here - see the article itself for details on sources):
The memoirs of William Smith nicely supplement those of the mother. One sees Joseph Smith through very feminine, the other through very masculine eyes. Moreover, the confidence of the mother is balanced by the more detached point of view of the brother. In this case, the brother is the most spiritually skeptical of all of the Smith family. His later religious history proves a lifelong rebelliousness, tempered only by older years.

At the time of Joseph Smith's visions, Hyrum and Samuel H. Smith had followed their mother into the Presbyterian Church, while most other family members were religious yet aloof from organized religion. William, however, describes himself as not even religious. Family worship "often became irksome or tiresome to me," he writes of this early period; he paid "no attention to religion of any kind. . . ." Only a powerful experience could unite this religiously divided family, and Lucy Mack Smith and William represented opposite poles.

Carelessly quoting William Smith is an irresponsible procedure. He published rather detailed recollections of his youth in 1883. He also wrote detailed comments on the published stories about the Prophet about 1875. Besides this, access to William's memory is gained mainly through an interview of 1841, a speech of 1884, and an interview of 1893. These five basic sources for William Smith show a historical method that resembles his religious career, spontaneous and not highly organized. Sequence is not as important to him as making his point with a random illustration. One must be aware of these characteristics because he does not relate the first vision of his brother. That is understandable, first of all, because he was barely nine when it took place. Furthermore, speaking of later visions, he indicated firm belief but carelessness: "being young and naturally high-spirited, I did not realize the importance of such things as I should have done...." Memory depends on deep interest. William, therefore, writes impressionistic history, recalling accurately his basic feelings of a time while often only approximating details. In this matter, he is his own best critic, for more than once he alerts the reader that Joseph Smith's story is more precise than his own: "A more elaborate and accurate description of his vision, however, will be found in his own history."

Through the recollections of Lucy Mack and William Smith, the clock can be turned back to the day when Joseph announced Moroni's coming to the family. As discussed, the stripling prophet first confided this news to his father in the field. Of course, Lucy Smith was not there, but from family knowledge she reported that on that morning Alvin noticed an unusual slackness in Joseph's work and that "Joseph was very pale." William confirmed this episode from firsthand knowledge: "I was at work in the field together with Joseph and my eldest brother Alvin. Joseph looked pale and unwell."

The most dramatic moment that day for the family circle was Joseph's narration to them of his visions of the night before. William places this event prior to Joseph's going to the hill, and Mother Smith afterwards. Yet both could be right. Possibly Joseph gave an announcement before and a detailed report afterwards. As to the family's reaction, there is no doubt. Lucy Mack Smith describes the intense interest of Alvin and "the most profound attention" of the entire family at Joseph's first reports of what had happened to him. William also described the family's reaction to Joseph's explanations: "They were astounded, but not altogether incredulous."

The foregoing words are those of an interested professor of church history who talked at length with William in 1841. Later William specifically described the reaction of the Smiths when Joseph told them of Moroni's coming:

"[H]e arose and told us how the angel appeared to him, what he had told him.... He continued talking to us [for] sometime. The whole family were melted to tears, and believed all he said. Knowing that he was very young, that he had not enjoyed the advantages of a common education; and knowing too, his whole character and disposition, they were convinced that he was totally incapable of arising before his aged parents, his brothers and sisters, and so solemnly giving utterance to anything but the truth." In this comment William singled out reasons for the implicit trust of the household in the nearly 18-year-old Joseph: his limited education, and "his whole character and disposition." There are important historical insights on these points that enable one to see young Joseph Smith through the eyes of his day-to-day companions.

First of all, it came as a shock that the teenager thought himself capable of writing a book. One autobiographical sketch summarizes his total education in one terse sentence: "My father was a farmer and taught me the art of husbandry." That is to say, muscle and tools were his skills, not study and books. Although not illiterate, Joseph at this point of life was relatively unskilled in reading and writing. One contemporary at Palmyra pays him the compliment of showing native intelligence in the "juvenile debating club," but it is a long leap from that to gaining either the interest or capacity to reproduce scripture.

Joseph himself commented on the demands of life that prevented his doing much reading. He mentioned the "indigent circumstances" of the family, and the necessity "to labor hard" to support the dozen members alive in 1823. This "required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the family; therefore, we were deprived of the benefit of an education. Suffice it to say, I was merely instructed in reading, writing, and the ground rules of arithmetic, which constituted my whole literary acquirements."

William and Lucy Smith concur. The former pictures his brother as educated only in a rudimentary way: "That he was illiterate to some extent is admitted, but that he was entirely unlettered is a mistake. In syntax, orthography, mathematics, grammar, geography, with other studies in the common schools of his day, he was no novice, and for writing, he wrote a plain, intelligible hand." In other words, Joseph had taken advantage of limited opportunities for basic education, but (as his mother insists) he was anything but widely read: at 18 he "had never read the Bible through in his life. He seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children, but far more given to meditation and deep study." The Smith family measured the adolescent Joseph and found it unbelievable that he would know history or aspire to writing it down without the divine direction that he claimed.
Now let's turn to a quote from one of the interviews with William Smith that was cited by a recent commenter. Here is what the commenter said:
It seems there is abundant evidence supporting the fact that not only the 3 witnesses, but the 8 witnesses as well, indeed never saw the plates with the naked eye. . . .

William Smith (JS's Brother) goes on to state that no one had seen them with the naked eye, nor could they:

"I did not see them 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...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." (Zion's Ensign, p. 6, January 13, 1894)
One reading the above might think that one of the Eight Witnesses was denying the details of the published testimony about seeing and handling the plates. Not so. First of all, William Smith was not one of the Eight. In fact, he stands as yet another person, apart from the main witnesses, who offered important testimony relevant to the divinity of the Book of Mormon. He was in a good position to know whether Joseph was a fraud or not, and though he was much less religious, he affirmed that Joseph was the real thing, an honest man called of God, and he stayed true to that testimony to the end of his life.

Second, we are supposed to believe that William's comment denies the experience recorded by the official witnesses to the Book of Mormon, who saw the actual plates with no cloth covering over them. In fact, William is referring to a time apparently before any of the Three or Eight Witnesses had seen the plates, and apparently shortly after the 116 pages had been lost, an incident of carelessness that resulted in the plates temporarily being taken away from Joseph. Joseph had the plates, but was being strict to follow the commandment not to show them to others. But that commandment would be modified with a revelation given in June 1929, recorded in Section 17 of the Doctrine and Covenants, in which the Lord revealed that Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer would be shown the plates, or that through faith they would have a view of them. Indeed, they would all see not only the plates, but an angel showing them the plates, and hear the voice of the Lord in that experience as well. The Eignht Witnesses would come later, and be shown the plates under more ordinary circumstances. I do not know how aware William was of those later experiences of others, but I assume he knew of them but was simply referring to his own encounter with the plates. Surely the interviewers did not see his words as somehow challenging the reliability of the official accounts of the origins of the Book of Mormon, especially whe William Smith goes on to affirm its divinity.

It is instructive to read the full 1893 statement of William Smith from this interview shortly before his death. Here is an excerpt in which he discusses the Book of Mormon:
Bro. Briggs and I visited him [William] next day after he returned from St. Paul being about two weeks before his death. We found him able to be about the house and quite willing to talk. After passing the time of day, etc., Bro. Briggs and he spoke of former meetings and finally drifted on to the subject of Bro. Smith's early boyhood and his knowledge of the rise of the church, Book of Mormon, etc.

Bro. Briggs then handed me a pencil and asked Bro. Smith if he ever saw the plates his brother had had, from which the Book of Mormon was translated"

He replied, "I did not see them uncovered but I handled them and hefted them while wrapped in the tow frock and judged them to have weighed about sixty pounds. I could tell they were plates of some kind and that they were fastened together by rings running through the back. Their size was as described in Mother's history."

Bro. Briggs then asked, "Did any others of the family see them?"

"Yes," said he, "Father and my Brother Samuel saw them as I did while in the frock So did Hyrum and others of the family."

"Was this frock one that Joseph took with him especially to wrap the plates in?"

"No, it was his every day frock such as young men used to wear then."

"Didn't you want to remove the cloth and see the bare plates?" said Bro. B.

"No," he replied; "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 anyone. 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.'

"Did you not doubt Joseph's testimony sometimes?" said Bro. Briggs.

"No," was the reply. "We all had the most implicit confidence in what he said. He was a truthful boy. Father and mother believed him, why should not the children? I suppose if he had told crooked stories about other things we might have doubted his word about the plates, but Joseph was a truthful boy. That father and mother believed his report and suffered persecution for that belief shows that he was truthful. No sir, we never doubted his word for one minute."

"Well," said Bro. B. "It is said that Joseph and the rest of the family were lazy and indolent."

"We never heard of such a thing until after Joseph told his vision, and not then by our friends. Whenever the neighbors wanted a good days work done they knew where they could get a good hand and they were not particular to take any of the other boys before Joseph either. We cleared sixty acres of the heaviest timber I ever saw. We had a good place, but it required a great deal of labor to make it a good place. We also had on it from twelve to fifteen hundred sugar trees, and to gather the sap and make sugar and molasses from that number of trees was no lazy job. We worked hard to clear our place and the neighbors were a little jealous. If you will figure up how much work it would take to clear sixty acres of heavy timber land, heavier than any here, trees you could not conveniently cut down, you can tell whether we were lazy or not, and Joseph did his share of the work with the rest of the boys.

We never knew we were bad folks until Joseph told his vision. We were considered respectable till then, but at once people began to circulate falsehoods and stories in a wonderful way."
William Smith's statement cannot be taken as denying the vivid and emphatically affirmed experiences of the official witnesses to the Book of Mormon, who all insisted throughout their lives, as did William, that the plates were real and that the Book of Mormon was of God, not a fabrication of Joseph Smith. But unlike William, the official eleven witnesses would affirm that they had actually seen the plates under a couple of different circumstances, one miraculous (with an angel and the voice of God - an experience that could be described as a vision or as seen with spiritual eyes but every bit as real as seeing one's hand in front of one's face, as David Whitmer insisted), or under more mundane circumstances, where the plates could be viewed and handled in plain sight without miraculous trappings. Both offer more direct evidence for the reality of the plates than William's experience feeling them while covered, but his testimony is also valuable in creating a mosaic of varied but consistent data from credible sources pointing to the reality of the Book of Mormon and the enormous difficulty of accounting for the Book of Mormon as some kind of fraudulent scheme devised by Joseph Smith.

For some further information, see "Book of Mormon Witnesses" by R.L. Anderson.

27 comments:

Walker said...

Looks like Jeff more than covered my response to the William Smith quote.

Nice work, Jeff. Great digging. The best antidote for bad history is good history.

Spumoni said...

"Carelessly quoting William Smith is an irresponsible procedure." Something the antis keep on doing, hoping that the firm testimony of the eye-witnesses can be ignored with mental sleight-of-hand.

Bishop Rick said...

I don't even know where to start after reading this. Never once was I trying to attack the authenticity of the BOM and stated as much in my posting, but was obviously ignored.

I also stated that I was trying to build UP a case (NOT TEAR DOWN one) that made sense regarding the 11 witnesses.

You guys are incredibly paranoid. One might say that you doth protest too much.

In addition, why can Jeff spout off anything he wants with absolutely no backing or references (I'm not talking about the article that Anderson wrote) and everyone falls all over themselves to believe it?

Here is an example:

"In fact, William is referring to a time APPARENTLY before any of the Three or Eight Witnesses had seen the plates, and APPARENTLY shortly after the 116 pages had been lost, an incident of carelessness that resulted in the plates temporarily being taken away from Joseph."

Here Jeff states something as FACT, but he is merely supposing. Things are APPARENT to Jeff because it matches his OPINION.

Give me a break.

If you guys want to believe that seeing something with "spiritual eyes" means that they saw them and handled them with their own eyes and hands, go ahead.

All you are doing is supporting nonsense that leans towards the whole thing being fake.

I never intended to go there, but you guys want to believe rediculous stories that jump all over the place and have no consistency, and change over time and you are too blind to see it. And just because a Mormon apologist says it, you believe it.

Absolutely incredible.

Walker said...

No worries, man. I was giving credit to Jeff for finding relevant information, information that is not easy to find by the average joe schlunk. True, he didn't cite any authorities, but the conclusion holds up under historical scrutiny in any case.

And re: Jeff's comments on the timing of William Smith, Smith's narrative places the cited incident before circa 1827, well before the witnesses saw the plates in summer of 1829. Jeff's analysis was correct.

Walker said...

No worries, man. I was giving credit to Jeff for finding relevant information, information that is not easy to find by the average joe schlunk. True, he didn't cite any authorities, but the conclusion holds up under historical scrutiny in any case.

And re: Jeff's comments on the timing of William Smith, Smith's narrative places the cited incident before circa 1827, well before the witnesses saw the plates in summer of 1829. Jeff's analysis was correct.

Mormanity said...

Rick, why are you so upset? What's "paranoid" about responding to your challenge of the reliability of the statements of eye-witnesses of the plates?

Look, in the previous post, you brought up William Smith in an effort to challenge the reliability of what the 8 witnesses said, and did so in a way that you knew could have caused others to think that he was one of the 8 witnesses denying the reality of his witness. Walker caught that, and you admitted you were deliberately trying to see if he would notice. Come on - one could call that a foul, and it certainly deserves a response, especially when William Smith's full statement was very much in favor of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, in spite of how his words are abused by critics.

You said that William's comments are part of a body of evidence that no one actually saw the plates with their own eyes, contrary to what the witnesses insisted they experienced. William's statement was taken out of context to make that point, though I recognize you did not realize that but probably just found it on an anti-Mormon site somewhere. There is simply no reason to infer that he is denying the statements of the official witnesses, but describing his encounter with the plates at a time before the witnesses were called. From his statement, that seems rather obvious: it was before Joseph received the revelation in Section 17. His statement was clearly meant to be and was taken by others to be an affirmation of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. Several anti-Mormons abuse his quote by taking it our of context, both the chronological context (referring to a time before June 1829) and the context of his full pro-Book of Mormon statement.

After re-reading your posts, I realize that you did not mean to attack the Book of Mormon directly, but like it or not, you were seeking to challenge or re-interpret the statements of the official witnesses who said they plainly and clearly saw the plates. Building "up" a case that they never saw the plates is building a case for tearing down the Book of Mormon as actual scripture and demands a response. Regardless of your personal beliefs, your arguments, if taken at face value, open the door for the BOM as a clever fraud, for plates made of tin by Joseph, and perhaps for the "cultural Mormon" view of the Book of Mormon as inspiring fiction. In my opinion, the extensive scholarship that has been done around the lives and statements of the witnesses leave little room for such positions.

Mormanity said...

Helpful information on the issue of natural vs. spiritual eyes comes from Michael Ash's page, "The Three Witnesses":

Some critics have suggested that the witnesses' encounter with the angel and the plates took place only in their minds. Such critics claim that witnesses saw the angel in a "vision" and equate "vision" with imagination. To bolster this claim they generally cite two supposed quotes from Martin Harris (see my article on Martin Harris for more details on his testimony). John Gilbert, the printer for the original Book of Mormon, claimed that he asked Harris about his testimony. "‘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.'" (Wood [1958], introduction.) The second citation comes from Anthony Metcalf's interview with Harris who supposedly said, "‘I never saw the golden plates, only in a visionary or entranced state.'" (Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71; quoted in Morgan)

Harris doesn't deny seeing the angel and the plates, but according to these two interviewers he suggested that his view of the angel and plates was encompassed in some type of vision. Does "visionary" mean "imaginary?" Does the belief that the experience had visionary qualities contradict the claim that the plates were real? Consider this: On separate occasions Harris also claimed that prior to his witnessing the plates he held them (while covered) "on his knee for an hour and a half"(Millennial Star September 15, 1853; quoted in Reynolds and Sjodahl, 4:436) and that they weighed approximately fifty pounds (Tiffany's Monthly 5, no. 2 [New York: Published by Joel Tiffany, 1859], 166.) It seems unlikely-- from his physical descriptions as well as his other testimonies and the testimonies of the other two witnesses-- that the entire experience was merely in his mind. For example, on one occasion, critics charged Harris that he had merely imaged that he (and the other two witnesses) had seen an angel-- that he was deluded. Martin responded by extending his right hand:

"Gentlemen, do you see that hand? Are you sure you see it? Are your eyes playing a trick or something? No. Well, as sure as you see my hand so sure did I see the angel and the plates." (Anderson [1981], 116.)

David Whitmer helps clear up the "spiritual" vs. "natural" viewing of the plates. Responding to the questions of Anthony Metcalf (the same Metcalf who interviewed Harris) Whitmer wrote:

"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." (Letter of David Whitmer to Anthony Metcalf, Mar. 1887, cit. Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast (Malad, Ida., 1888), p. 74; quoted in Anderson [1981], 86.)

David Whitmer (who never rejoined the Church) continued to maintain his testimony despite possible embarrassment for doing so-- considering that he was constantly questioned and criticized for his testimony and was no longer a Mormon. David, like the other witnesses had been charged with being deluded into thinking he had seen an angel and the plates. One observer remembers when David was such accused, and said:

"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!'"(Ibid., 88.)

Paul understood the difficulty of describing spiritual experiences when he wrote:

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) (2 Cor. 12:2-3.)

Paul's vision was real, yet he was unsure whether he had the experience in or out of his body. Harris may have felt a similar experience. He knew the plates were real (see his testimonies in my article on Harris), yet he also knew that when the angel showed him the plates he was only able to see them by the power of God.

Could the Three Witnesses have been so caught up in the excitement that they imagined they saw an angel, or lied about seeing an angel to heighten the stimulation? An affirmative answer may suffice for testifying in the "heat of the moment," but this explanation is not satisfactory when we look at the testimony that they continued to proclaim throughout their lives-- through persecution, financial ruin, excommunication, embarrassment, and bitter-feelings. A testimony born in the excitement of the moment would die quickly under such adverse conditions. And as my separate articles on the each of the Three Witnesses indicate (see Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer), these men maintain the veracity of their testimonies throughout their lives. It would be a tougher argument to win, claiming that these men were duped or imagined that they had seen and angel, heard a voice from heaven, and saw the Book of Mormon plates, then to argue that they were really witnesses to these miraculous events.

Bishop Rick said...

Was I upset? Yes
Should I have been? Probably not.
Maybe I am the one who is paranoid.

Bishop Rick said...

I guess the problem I have is that when I post, it is automatically assumed I am attacking the BOM or the Church, when in reality, I am trying to piece together what makes sense to me.

Rachel said...

Bishop Rick:

You said:

"I guess the problem I have is that when I post, it is automatically assumed I am attacking the BOM or the Church, when in reality, I am trying to piece together what makes sense to me."

The problem isn't you.

The problem is that your rational being knows this story doesn't make sense, and all of the convoluted attempts to make it plausible also don't make sense, and you are suffering because of your conditioning.

Mormanity said...

Rachel, faith, like any discipline, involves unresolved or challenging elements. That's not a reason to give up.

The confusion and conflicting elements involving the witnesses does not come from their testimony and experiences, but from the sometimes devious attempts of critics to spin their repeatedly affirmed testimony into something it wasn't. Latter-day Saints may be confused by the anti-Mormon spin on this topic, but probably not by what the witnesses said they saw.

Is there any plausible explanation for their strong and lifelong testimonies? They were honorable men, they said they saw real plates, plates with physical details like engravings on both sides and D-shaped rings and a mass of about 60 pounds. Some also touched them. None of them ever denied that testimony, even when they had left the Church and had nothing to gain by stubbornly insisting on the physical reality of the plates.

Bishop Rick said...

Jeff,

Even you have to admit, that true or not, the way this all unfolds is out of the ordinary.

Anonymous said...

At least all of us now alive are telling the truth we never saw the golden plates. The big thing there are only witnesses but no golden plates. If the statement was lost, it is a big mess, statement with the angels-wow what a safe statement not to question.

Anonymous said...

At least all of us now alive are telling the truth we never saw the golden plates. The big thing there was witnesses but no golden plates. If the statement was lost, it is a big mess, statement with the angels-wow what a safe statement not to question.

Chris Congdon said...

I just want to say that you seem like a really great guy and i am very happy to see a wisconsinite like yourself serving your heavenly father. i grew up in Mukwonago ,WI. I have since moved to Mesa, AZ where i am currently waiting until my 18th b-day to go back to Wisconsin. You are awesome! Mormons rock joseph smith was a prophet and an instrument of Gods hand in these latter-days. Listen to his words and Read the Book of Mormon :)

Connell O'Donovan said...

I would not look to William Smith as ANY kind of a credible witness.

First of all, as far as his character goes, he was a liar, an embezzler (embezzling some tens of thousands of dollars of tithing and temple funds for his own use), an awful alcoholic during the 1840s and 50s, slept with several unmarried women in the Boston and New York areas when he was an apostle, performed unauthorized polygamous marriages in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York to cover up his friends' fornication, mistreated and abused his first wife (Caroline Grant) so badly she basically died from heartache, excommunicated faithful Mormons who discovered his fraud (like John Hardy, Willard Messer, Thomas A. Lynes, etc.), fought constantly with his brother Joseph (and in fact, had stolen valuable Nauvoo property from Joseph in May 1844 and was caught trying to sell it to someone else; Joseph found out about it and nearly killed William in a fist fight in the streets of Nauvoo - William left Nauvoo in an outrage and never saw his two brothers alive again), and affiliated with at least half a dozen LDS schismatic groups, constantly trying to barter his status as a living Smith into a position of power and financial stability. I think he was a vile, sleazy cur and charlatan, and wouldn't trust him further than I could throw him.

Secondly, what was William Smith a witness of? Something heavy (weighing about 60 lbs) wrapped in a frock. Wow. Not exactly convincing!

Show Me said...

Connell, you must have studied about William Smith to come up with such a litany of offenses. I have heard or read little of William and they make interesting reading. However, you don't provide verification of your accusations. Was William ever fairly tried and convicted by his peers of these mis-deeds or do we know them only from hearsay from others, passing on bitterness or mis-understandings.

I have an open mind on such things as long as we get reliable verification. Without that, your attempt to discredit William's voracity appears to come right out of the kind of hateful "spin mill" that resulted in the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and forced the saints from Nauvoo.

Did these miss-deeds result in formal and verifiable charges? Without that, you don't even get as far as a trial. In more recent times, case in point, I give you the Duke Lacrosse team, Mr. Nifong.

Anonymous said...

I love your "thou does protest to much" because as I read Williams testimony of Joseph telling his family of his experences I again was given a confirmation that it was true. Keep up the protests because I don't need cold hard facts to determine the thing of the spirit. Thanks again Jeff and my friend the Holy Ghost.

Anonymous said...

Not to be glib but does anyone pray for a conformation about these things rather than just trying to some how make it fit or not fit? I'll take a witness from the spirit any day to all the facts or debate that can be put togother.

Anonymous said...

The truth can be told even by someone a lost as William.

john said...

Wm.is very clear -none in the family or that he knew as 'witnesses' ever really saw the plates!I read everything I could on Wm.and he never says it was before the witness accounts.He claims none of them ever saw those plates with the naked eye(as opposed to the LDS 'spiritual eye' i.e.imagination)
The great Mormon Elder Moyle after leaving law school visited David Whitmer who told him he only saw the plates with his 'spiritual eyes,'etc.,etc.He writes in his diary(which part is online) he was 'very disappointed and quite dissatisfied' with Whitmer's remarks!
Of course,in the Tabernacle many years later, Moyle says it was a grand interview!
Anything to give them what they want to hear,not the truth as he secretly recorded in his diary!Such a shame.

Anonymous said...

J.H.Moyle diary for June 6 1885,"I was not fully satisfied with the explanation[Whitmer's testimony].It was more spiritual than I had anticipated"[or when the reality sets in as opposed to READING printed accounts of the three witnesses].
Martin Harris said in public he only saw the plates with a 'visionary eye or imagination.'He said the 8 witnesses did not 'see' them and even 'hestitated' to sign the special 8 witness testimony!
Samuel Smith said the witnesses 'saw' the plates at 'different' times!Yips!

Anonymous said...

How would you guys respond to the challenge that Mormons are merely a bunch of well meaning idiots! Which is the kind of opinion that I encounter very, very often?

Anonymous said...

Hohn, said:

"Of course,in the Tabernacle many years later, Moyle says it was a grand interview!
Anything to give them what they want to hear,not the truth as he secretly recorded in his diary!Such a shame."


The shame is that you have not a testimony of your own. I have had events in my past, some have dimmed and others have become more grand as the spirit becomes more powerful over time as I go over the event. I have had something told to me or I have read something with little impact or spiritual feeling. Then many years later I go over it again and the spirit confirms it with power and force. Don't be so quick to talk of things that you do not understand.

Anonymous said...

"I love your "thou does protest to much" because as I read Williams testimony of Joseph telling his family of his experences I again was given a confirmation that it was true. Keep up the protests because I don't need cold hard facts to determine the thing of the spirit. Thanks again Jeff and my friend the Holy Ghost."



Now that is what I was talking about.

Anonymous said...

Connell O'Donovan said...


"Secondly, what was William Smith a witness of? Something heavy (weighing about 60 lbs) wrapped in a frock. Wow. Not exactly convincing!"


I was not a witness to it but I know it is true by the spirit. You must try it out some time. We will be praying for your witness.

Anonymous said...

Something rings true about Wm. Smith's comments,and when I read the words of someone who is deluded, I can tell they are deluded,too.