67 Testimonies of those who saw the plates

CES Letter Core Question

Do other testimonies by the witnesses not match what's in the Book of Mormon? See the 67 testimonies below.

While we have “testimonies” from the witnesses recorded in later years through interviews and second eyewitness accounts and affidavits, many of the “testimonies” given by some of the witnesses do not match the claims and wording of the preface statements in the Book of Mormon.

CES Letter, Page 99

Testimony of the Three Witnesses, 1829:

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

 

Oliver Cowdery

1829
"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, ascend out of the midst of heaven. Now if this is human juggling—judge ye." (Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, in letter dated 29 November 1829, quoted in Corenlius C. Blatchly, "THE NEW BIBLE, written on plates of Gold or Brass," Gospel Luminary 2/49 (10 Dec. 1829): 194.)

1830
About two weeks since some persons came along here with the book, one of whom pretends to have seen Angels, and assisted in translating the plates....The name of the person here, who pretends to have a divine mission, and to have seen and conversed with Angels, is Cowdray.[5]

1835
Oliver Cowdery reporting the testimony by John Whitmer in 1835: "Elder John Whitmer took the lead in the services of the afternoon, and gave a short relation of the facts connected with the translation of the book of Mormon. On reflecting how many foolish reports are in circulation on this subject, and how many there are who are vain enough to believe them, I could not but wish that such were present, while Elder [John] Whitmer was delivering his address. A thousand things may be conjectured, but when a man declares openly, candidly, and seriously, of what he has seen, hefted and handled with his own hands, and that in the presence of a God who sees and knows the secrets of the heart, no man possessed of common reason and common sense, can doubt, or will be so vain as to dispute. Such is the fact that a record of that description does exist, for it has been seen, and such is the fact, that the Lord himself bears witness of it, for thousands testify of the same -- there is neither lack of human or divine testimony: Then who so blind as not to see? And who so deaf as not to hear? "[96]

1846
I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character, as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed Brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest.[6]

1848
I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, or as it is called by the book, Holy Interpreters. I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was transcribed. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the Holy Interpreters. That book is true. ...It contains the everlasting gospel, and came forth to the children of men in fulfillment of the revelations of John, where he says he saw an angel come with the everlasting gospel to preach to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. It contains principles of salvation; and if you, my hearers, will walk by its light and obey its precepts, you will be saved with an everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God on high.[7]

Hiram Page reported: "Among his last words, was to reaffirm his testimony to the Book of Mormon."[8]

March 1850
Oliver Cowdery just before breathing his last, asked his attendants to raise him up in bed that he might talk to the family and his friends, who were present. He then told them to live according to the teachings contained in the Book of Mormon, and promised them, if they would do this, that they would meet him in heaven. He then said, ‘Lay me down and let me fall asleep.’ A few moments later he died without a struggle.[9]

Unknown Date
The thing which impressed me most of all was, as we stood beside the grave of Oliver Cowdery the other Witness, who had come back into the Church before his death, and [David Whitmer] in describing Oliver[']s action, when bearing his testimony, said to the people in his room, placing his hands like this upon his head, saying 'I know the Gospel to be true and upon this head has Peter[,] James and John laid their hands and confer[r]ed the Holy Melchisedic Priesthood.' [10]

"Mr Whitmer felt very indignant while speaking of certain statements published recently to the effect that he and Oliver Cowdery had denied their statement as published in the Book of Mormon. This he denounced as false in every particular. He said: "Oliver never wavered in his testimony, and when he was on his death bed, I was there, with many of his friends, until he passed away. He bore the same testimony on his dying bed that he had always borne through life, and earnestly called upon all to cleave to the truth revealed through the Prophet Joseph, and to serve the Lord. As for myself, I have never denied my testimony that is published in the Book of Mormon, for I know that God has revealed these things for the salvation of the children of men, and to Him belongs all the honor, the power and the glory."[11]

Edward Stevenson: "I have often heard him [Oliver Cowdery] bear a faithful testimony to the restoration of the Gospel by the visitation of an angel, in whose presence he stood in company with the Prophet Joseph Smith and David Whitmer. He testified that he beheld the plates, the leaves being turned over by the angel, whose voice he heard, and that they were commanded as witnesses to bear a faithful testimony to the world of the vision that they were favored to behold, and that the translation of the Book of Mormon was accepted of the Lord...."[12]

Elizabeth Ann (Whitmer) Cowdery (Oliver's wife): "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...."[13]

Philander Page, son of Hiram Page: [he] "was present at the deathbed of Oliver Cowdery. . . Oliver conversed with the brethren and reaffirmed his testimony to the Book of Mormon and to be faithful to their testimony."[14]

 

Martin Harris

1829
"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."[16]

1831
Martin Harris, another chief of Mormon imposters, 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![17]

1833
Jesse Townsend to Phineas Stiles, 24 December 1833:

At that time Martin Harris was worth five or six thousand dollars, while the Smiths were not worth a cent. The latter used Martin's money freely; and some other men, having a great dislike to labor, joined Joe in his deceptions, among whom was a sort of schoolmaster named Cowdery, who assisted him in writing or transcribing the "Book of Mormon," as a pretended translation of the golden plates which he affirmed he had been directed by the Spirit of the Lord to dig from the earth. This was all done in the most secret manner. 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."

1838
Stephen Burnett: “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 public 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 (sic) sapped & the entire superstructure fell a heap of ruins,…I was followed by W. Parish[,] Luke Johnson & John Boynton[,] all of the[m] concurred with me. After we done speaking 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 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 him but should have let it passed as it was…” – Stephen Burnett,  Letter from Stephen Burnett to “Br. Johnson,” April 15, 1838, in Joseph Smith Letter Book, p. 2. Early Mormon Documents, 2:288-93.

Warren Parrish, wrote 11 August 1838: "Martin Harris, one of the subscribing witnesses, has come out at last, and says he never saw the plates, from which the book [of Mormon] purports to have been translated, except in vision, and he further says that any man who says he has seen them in any other way is a liar, Joseph [Smith] not excepted;--see new edition, Book of Covenants, page 170 [D&C 17], which agrees with Harris's testimony" (Evangelist [Carthage, Ohio] 6 [1 October 1838]: 226).

1840
John A. Clark recollection of 1827-1828:

To know how much this testimony [of three witnesses] 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” (EMD 2:270).

1853
"I was the right-hand man of Joseph Smith, and I know that he was a Prophet of God. I know the Book of Mormon is true." Then, smiting his fist on the table, he said--"And you know that I know that it is true. I know that the plates have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice declared it unto us; therefore I know of a surety that the work is true. For....did I not at one time hold the plates on my knee an hour-and-a-half, whilst in conversation with Joseph, when we went to bury them in the woods, that the enemy might not obtain them? Yes, I did. And as many of the plates as Joseph Smith translated I handled with my hands, plate after plate....I should think they were so long, or about eight inches, and about so thick, or about four inches, and each of the plates was thicker than the thickest tin." [18]

1859
"I said [to Joseph Smith], if it [the Book of Mormon translation] is the devil's work I will have nothing to do with it, but if it is the Lord's, you can have all the money necessary to bring it before the world. He [Joseph] said that the angel told him, that the plates must be translated, printed and sent before the world. I said, Joseph, you know my doctrine, that cursed is every one that putteth his trust in man, and maketh flesh him [sic] arm; and we know that the devil is to have great power in the latter days to deceive if possible the very elect; and I don't know that you are one of the elect. Now you must not blame me for not taking your word. If the Lord will show me that it is his work, you can have all the money you want." [19]

1867
How to reconcile the act of Harris in signing his name to such a statement, in view of the character of honesty which had always been conceded to him, could never be easily explained. In reply to uncharitable suggestions of his neighbors, he used to practice a good deal of his characteristic jargon about "seeing with the spiritual eye," and the like. As regards the other witnesses associated with Harris, their averments in this or any other matter could excite no

more surprise than did those of Smith himself. (Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1867), 71.)

1869
Young man, do you see that sun shining through that window? Just so sure as that sun shines and gives us light by day, and the moon and stars give us light by night, just so sure I know the Book of Mormon is true. For I saw the angel, I heard the <his> voice, I saw and handled the plates upon which the Book of Mormon was written; and by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost, the translation was made by the Prophet Joseph Smith, whom I know by the power and gift of the Holy Ghost, was a true Prophet of God....[20]

1870
"He believes in the visitation of angels in bodily form, for he has seen and conversed with them, as he thinks, and is satisfied."[21]

Bro. Martin visited many of the wards, continuing to bear his testimony both of what he had beheld with his own eyes, and verily knew to be true. He publicly said that many years ago, in Ohio, a number of persons combined [and] sought to get Martin to drink wine for the purpose of crossing him in his testimony. At the conclusion they asked him if he really believed the testimony that he had signed in the Book of Mormon to be true; he replied, no he did not believe it, but, much to their surprise, he said he knew it to be true (italics in original).[22]

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 in the brightness of day.[23]

"I can prove by the Bible the truth of the work, as well as being an eye witness, for I saw the book in the angel's hands and I also heard his voice, and I bear my testimony to you that I saw his words were fulfilled by my taking the words of a a book to the professor [Charles Anthon], although I did not know it at the time."[24]

"Young man, I had the privilege of being with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and with these eyes of mine," pointing to his eyes, "I saw the angel of the Lord and I saw the plates and the Urim and Thummim and the sword of Laban, and with these ears," pointing to his ears, "I heard the voice of the angel, and with these hands, "Holding out his hands, "I handled the plates containing the record of the Book of Mormon,[25] and I assisted the Prophet in the translation thereof."[26]

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 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...."[27]

1873-1874
Following is the history as related to me, including all his connections with Joseph Smith, the pretended prophet and the founder of the Mormon church: He told me all about the translating of the Book of Mormon, and said he had give $5,000 towards its publication. He said "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 cloth. I was told by Joseph 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 all engaged in prayer, they failed at that 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." [1]

1874
My mother has prepared I don't know how many meals for him [Martin Harris], but always the conversation of the early rise of the Church would be the main subject discussed at the table....And he became miffed with the Prophet Joseph because he thought that he should have been one of the leading men in the Church. He had helped Brother Joseph Smith means to publish the Book of Mormon and to assist him in many other ways, and for that reason, I say, and what he had done for the Church, he became miffed; but it would nearly always wind up with the testimony that you find here recorded in the Book of Mormon. He stated that he stood in broad day light, when an angel from Heaven came down with the plates in his arms, and he stood side by side with the angel when the angel did turn over leaf after leaf of the book that had been translated into our language...until he became perfectly satisfied that he has seen enough, and further, that after the angel had shown him the plates and disappeared, he heard a voice from Heaven that thrilled every fiber of his body, stating the the book had been translated by the gift and power of God, and not of man, and he was commanded by the Lord to so make that statement to the world. And he did. Now it was my privilege to hear Martin Harris relate that, time and time again at our table....[28]

1875
"After they [David Whitmer, Joseph, and Oliver] had been visited by the angel the Prophet then came over to me where I was praying, and I asked the prophet to pray with me...after praying sometime the angel appeared with the golden plates and I saw with these two eyes the angel stand with the gold plates in his hands, and I saw him turn leaf by leaf the plates of gold, and I also heard the voice of the Lord saying that these words were true and translated correctly."[29]

"The Prophet Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer and myself, went into a little grove to pray to obtain a promise that we should behold it with our eyes natural eyes, that we could testify of it to the world."[30]

"Now I don't believe, but I know it [the Book of Mormon] to be true, for with these eyes I saw the angel and with these ears (pointing to them) I heard him say it was a true and correct record of an ancient people that dwelt upon this the American continent, and I hereby testify to you young men that it is true."[31]

1892
John H. Gilbert Memorandum, 8 September 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 spir[i]tual eye."

Unknown Date
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.[32]

When we came out of the meeting Martin Harris was beset with a crowd in the street, expecting he would furnish them with material to war against Mormonism; but when asked if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, he answered yes; and when asked if the Book of Mormon was true, this was his answer: "Do you know that is the sun shining on us? Because as sure as you know that, I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and that he translated that book by the power of God."[33]

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.”[34]

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.[35]

 

David Whitmer

1831
Whitmar’s [sic] 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. (“Gold Bible, No. 6,” The Reflector (Palmyra, New York) 2, no. 16 (19 March 1831), 126–27. off-site. )

"D[avid] Whitmer then arose and bore testimony to having seen an Holy Angel who had made known the truth of this record to him. [A]ll these strange things I pondered in my heart."[36]

1872
Elder J.J. Thayne returns from his mission. “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”[37]

1875
I have frequently placed it [the seer stone] to my eyes but could see nothing through it. I have seen Joseph, however, place it to his eyes and instantly read signs 160 miles distant and tell exactly what was transpiring there. When I went to Harmony after him he told me the names of every hotel at which I had stopped on the road, read the signs, and described various scenes without having ever received any information from me.[38]

And no man can look at David Whitmer's face for a half-hour, while he charit[abl]y and modestly speaks of what he has seen, and then boldly and earnestly confesses the faith that is in him, and say that he is a bigot or an enthusiast.[39]

My testimony to the world is written concerning the Book of Mormon, and it is the same that I gave at first and it is the same as shall stand to my latest hour in life, linger with me in death and shine as Gospel Truth beyond the limits of life, among the Tribunals of Heaven, and [that] the Nations of the Earth will have known to[o] late the divine truth written on the pages of that book is the only sorrow of this servant of the Almighty Father.[40]

1876
I personally heard him [David Whitmer] state in Jan. 1876 in his own house...in most positive language, that he did truly see in broad day light, a bright, and most beautiful being, an 'Angel from Heaven," who did hold in his hands the golden plates, which he turned over leaf by leaf, explaining the contents, here and there. He also described the size and general appearance of the plates....[41]

My testimony to the Book of Mormon is true and I am admonished neither to add to nor take from my testimony already appended to the Book. And if I should do so must be extremely guarded under the risk of being misunderstood.[42]

1877
Bro. David please relate your feelings in regard to the testimony of yours in the Book of Mormon, and the origin of the gospel through Joseph Smith. "Well as I know that the sun shines, so do I know that I was plowing one forenoon and I heard a voice and saw a personage who said, 'Blessed is the Lord and he that keepeth his commandments,' and the very next round Bro Joseph [Smith] and Oliver [Cowdery] came along and said, 'Come David and be on of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon'. We walked through a clearing and all sat on a log. It was about 11 a.m., when a light appeared and it grew brighter until an angel stoo before us and on the appearance of a table was laid the plates, urim and thummim, ball or director, sword of lab, etc., and a voice declared and bore record of the truth of the translation turning the leaves over, and thus the vision ended."[43]

1878
I was plowing in my field, when I heard a voice saying, 'Blessed is the name of the Lord and those that keep his commandments.' After I had plowed one more round, the prophet and Oliver Cowdery came along, and said, 'Come and be one of the witnesses.' We passed through a clearing and sat on a log. While there, a light appeared, which grew brighter, until an angel stood before them with the plates and other things. The angel turned the leaves so that we could see the engravings, etc. We then heard a voice, saying that those things were true and that the translation was correct. This was about 11 o'clock a.m."[44]

David Whitmer interviewed by P. Wilhelm Poulson:

Q. Martin Harris...gave a testimony in Salt Lake City Tabernacle that he saw the plates by [the] faith and power of God.

A. Martin Harris is correct....we saw it, and our testimony, which we give to the world, is true exactly as you read it, we saw by the gift and power of God. As we were praying the angel stood before us in his glory, and all those things were before us, as they were laid before us on a table, and we heard the testimony about the plates, and we were commanded to bear that testimony to the world, and our testimony is true. And when the angel had finished his words, and shown us the plates, one by one, which were to be translated, then the vision was closed at once, and exactly as it came even so did the sight disappear.

Q. But those things which you saw were material things, how could they come and vanish away again?

A. It is the power of God. He does those things, and his angels know how to do it. It was wonderful to us, but it was by the power of God. He had appointed his angels to be the guardians of the plates and other things, and the angels knew how it was done.

Q. Did the eight witnesses not handle the plates as a material substance?

A. We did not, but they did, because the faith of Joseph became so great that the angel, the guardian of the plates, gave the plates up to Joseph for a time, that those eight witnesses could see and handle them.[45]

David Whitmer interview by Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith:

Orson Pratt: "Do you remember what time you saw the plates?"

David Whitmer: "It was in June 1829, the very last part of the month, and the eight witnesses, I think, the next day. Joseph showed them the plates himself. We (the Three Witnesses) not only saw the plates of the book of Mormon, but the Brass Plates, the plates containing the record of the wickedness of the people of the world, and many other plates. The fact is, it was just as though Joseph, Oliver and I were sitting right 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, immediately before us, about as far off as he sits (pointing to John C. Whitmer who was sitting 2 or 3 feet from him) there appeared, as it were, a table, with many records on 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 his hand upon the bed beside him), and I heard the voice of the Lord as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life declaring that they (the plates) were translated by the gift and power of God."[46]

Orson Pratt: "Did you see the Angel at this time?"

David Whitmer: "Yes, he stood before us. Martin Harris was not with us at this time. I don't think he saw all that we did, but our testimony as recorded in the Book of Mormon is strictly and absolutely true just as it is there written."[47]

When the question was asked David Whitmer if he and the other witnesses did not subscribe their own names to the respective testimonies, he replied that they did. Then he was asked: 'Where are the original documents?' That he did not know, but supposed Oliver had copied them, but this was an exact copy. Someone suggested that he ought to certify to it, he being the only witness left, but the lawyer, Mr. David C. Whitmer, son of Jacob, thought he had better take time to reflect about it.[48]

1879
"I have heard the same from the mouth of Father Whitmer, more than once; and every time I ever heard him tell the particulars of that glorious scene, he always told it just the same; and as far as I have ever heard, from reliable witnesses, he has always told the same story--"straight as a nail."[49]

As you read my testimony given many years ago, so it stands as my own existence; the same as when I gave it, and so shall stand throughout the cycles of eternity.[50]

1881
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 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[s], 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.[51]

"Did you see the angel?"

"Yes; he stood before us [Whitmer, Joseph, and Oliver]. Our testimony as recorded in the Book of Mormon is absolutely true, just as it is written there."[52]

At that time Mr. Whitmer saw the tablet, gazed with awe on the celestial messenger, heard him speak and say: 'Blessed is the Lord and he that keeps His commandments;" and then, as he held the plates and turned them over with his hands, so that they could be plainly visible, a voice that seemed to fill all space, musical as the sighing of a wind through the forest, was heard, saying: "What you see is true: testify to the same." And Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, standing there, felt, as the white garments of the angel faded from their vision and the heavenly voice still rang in their ears, that it was no delusion--that it was a fact; and they so recorded it. In a day or two after the same spirit appeared to Martin Harris while he was in company with Smith, and told him also to bear witness to its truth, which he did, as can be seen in the book. Harris described the visitant to Whitmer, who recognized it as the same that he and Cowdery had seen.[53]

1882
"I was plowing in the field one morning, and Joseph and Oliver came along with a revelation stating that I was to be one of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. I got over the fence and we went out into the woods, near by, and sat down on a log and talked awhile. We then kneeled down and prayed. Joseph prayed. We then got up and sat on the log and were talking, when all at once a light came down from above us and encircled us for quite a little distance around; and the angel stood before us. He was dressed in white, and spoke and called me by name and said 'Blessed is he that keepeth His commandments.' This is all that I heard the angel say. A table was set before us and on it the records were placed....While we were viewing them the voice of God spoke out of heaven saying that the Book was true and the translation correct."

We then asked him, "Do you remember the peculiar sensation experienced upon that occasion?" He answered very slowly and definitely. "Yes; I remember it very distinctly; and I never think of it, from that day to this but what that same spirit is present with me." "How did you know it was the voice of God?" "We knew it was the voice of God. I knew it was the voice of God just as well as I knew any thing."[54]

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."

"That was the strongest testimony I ever heard, and I felt that he was telling the truth...."[55]

In answer to questions by the brethren he recited with graphic distinctness the scene in which he received the testimony he bore any years past and still bears to the Book of Mormon; and averred anew that the statement made by him as published in the book is true. No one who listens to him can doubt the sincerity and truthfulness of the man[56]

My testimony as published in connection with the Book of Mormon is true--And why Should men ask to know more in regard to all the particulars connected with that all Overshadowing truth--If they will not believe the three and 8 witnesses would they believe though one Should arise from the dead, testify to its truth again.[57]

1883
"I have been visited by thousands of people, believers and unbelievers, men and ladies of all degrees, sometimes as many as 15 in one day, and have never failed in my testimony. And they will know some day that my testimony is true....I heard the voice of the Angel just as stated in said Book, and the engravings on the plates were shown to us, and we were commanded to bear record of them; and if they are not true, then there is no truth, and if there is no truth there is no God; f there is no God then there is no existence. But there is a God, and I know it.

"When we were first told to publish our statement, we felt sure the people would not believe it, for the Book told of a people who were refined and dwelt in large cities; but the Lord told us that He would make it known to the people, and people should discover the ruins of the lost cities and abundant evidence of the truth of what is written in the Book."[58]

“Persons may attempt to describe the presentation of the plates as shown to himself and other witnesses, but there was a glory attending it that no one could describe, no human tongue could tell the glorious scenes that were presented to them. Joseph Smith was there and Oliver Cowdery and himself--Martin Harris did not come as expected, but they were shown to him a short time after."[59]

1884

David Whitmer's response when asked if he "had been mistaken and had simply been moved upon by some mental disturbance, or hallucination, which had deceived them into thinking he saw the Personage, the Angel, the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the sword of Laban."

Whitmer was interviewed by Joseph Smith III, in the presence of others, not all of whom were disposed to believe his account. Significantly, he listed several items that he had seen, besides the golden plates: Rather suggestively [Colonel Giles] 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 them 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!"[60]

I saw the angel as plainly as I see you; he was surrounded by the glory of God, which overshadowed us, and we heard his voice, and we saw the records of the Book of Mormon...My testimony is the same as at the beginning, as is true.[61]

He was plowing when Joseph and Oliver came to him and the former told him that he was chosen to be one of the three witnesses to whom the angel would show the plates. He also told him that the Lord had promised to make this manifest and now was the time.

They went out and sat upon a log conversing upon the things to be revealed when they were surrounded by a glorious light which overshadowed them. A glorious personage appeared and he showed to them the plates....Human language could not, he said, describe heavenly things and that which they saw. The language of the angel was: Blessed is he that believed and remaineth faithful to the end. He had his hours of darkness and trial and difficulty, but however dark upon other things[,] that had ever been a bright scene in his mind and he had never wavered in regard to it; he had testified fearlessly always of it, even when his life was threatened. Martin Harris was not with them at the time that he and Oliver saw the angel, but he and Joseph afterwards saw the same, and he thus became a witness also.[63]

In June, 1829, [when] I [David Whitmer] saw the angel by the power of God, Joseph, Oliver and I were alone, and a light from heaven shone round us, and solemnity pervaded our minds. The angel appeared in the light, as near as that young man. [Within five or six feet - note in original] Between us and the angel there appeared a table, and there lay upon it the sword of Laban, the Ball of [sic] Directors, the Record, and Interpreters. The angel took the Record, and turned the leaves, and showed it to us by the power of God....My testimony in the Book of Mormon is true; I can't deviate from it.[64]

Mr. Whitmer on being asked if he saw the angel, as stated in some accounts, opened the book and pointing to a section said, "there is my testimony. Read it; that tells all that is necessary for me to say about it. That contains the solemn testimony of myself and the other persons named."[65]

I saw this apparition [the angel] myself and gazed with awe on the celestial messenger and heard him say, "Blessed is the Lord and he that keeps his commandments." Then, as he held the plates and turned them over with his hands so that we could see them plainly, a voice that seemed to fill all space was heard, saying: 'What you see is true. Testify to the same." Oliver Cowdery and I, standing there, felt, as the white garments of the angel faded from view, that we had received a message from God, and we have so recorded it. Two or three days later the same angel appeared to Martin Harris while he was in company with [Joseph] Smith, and placed the same injunction upon him. He described the sight and his sensations to me, and they corresponded exactly with what I had seen and heard.[66]

I did see the angel of God, and was commanded to testify of these things, and they are true.[67]

Mr. Whitmer turned his large, kind, but penetrating eyes upon me and, in a very pleasant and considerate, but firm and steady voice said: 'Read the printed testimony of the three witnesses, which you will find on one of the front pages of the Book of Mormon--and I say to you that every word of it is true.[68]

1885

Question: Do you know that the plates seen with the Angel on the table) were real metal, did you touch them?

Answer: We did not touch nor handle the plates

Question: Was the table literal wood? Or was the whole a vision such as often occurs in dreams &c.

Answer: The table had the appearance of literal wood as shown in the vision, in the glory of God.[68a]

 

1886
Now, as eight years ago, he [Whitmer] says "As I live and stand upon the earth so sure did I see the angel who stood before us. While we were sitting upon a log (that is Joseph and I and Oliver Cowdery) we were talking when a bright light began to shine around us. It grew bright and brighter until an angel stood before us. A table [was] in front of him on which was the [gold] plates and the other plates, the sword of Laban, ball or compass, etc. The plates were shown [to] us [and the] leaves turned over. A portion of them were sealed. We also heard a voice commanding us to bear a testimony of these things to the world....[69]

I asked him if the table, which the angel brought, and upon which the plates lay when he viewed them was a tangible one, and he said that he did not touch it, it had the semblance of a table. The 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.[70]

1887
David bore his testimony of standing in the presence of the angel....

David said to Mrs S[tevenson], "My testimony as found in the Book of Mormon is verily true and I cannot deny it." "I know," he said, "that the Book of Mormon is as true as the Bible." He relates seeing a messenger while plowing who said "Blessed is the name of the Lord and they who keep his Commandments." Soon after Joseph Smith and O[liver] Cowdery came along. David tied his team to the fence. The three were about 40 rods from his father's. While sitting on a log an angel appeared in the midst of a brightness that preceded him. On a table in front of him was the ball or compass...sword of Laban, Urim and Thummim or Interpreters. Also the plates, which was shown to them and they were commanded to bear testimony of these things, and he said as he lived those things were true. He fired up with zeal."[71]

In June, 1829, the Lord called Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and myself as the three witnesses, to behold the vision of the Angel, as recorded in the fore part of the Book of Mormon, and to bear testimony to the world that the Book of Mormon is true. I was not called to bear testimony to the mission of Brother Joseph Smith any farther than his work of translating the Book of Mormon, as you can see by reading the testimony of us three witnesses.[72]

[O]f course [I] would tell you about my vision of the Angel. You ask me if I saw the Angel when he brought the plates. I saw the angel when he brought the plates, and the Angel told us that we must bear testimony to the world, as contained in my testimony written int he Book of Mormon. Doubt not--sister--the Book of Mormon is the Word of God.[73]

I did see the Angel as it is recorded in my testimony in the Book of Mormon. The Book is true (emphasis in original).[74]

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 [the woods as] 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.[75]

He [David Whitmer] stated that the Book of Mormon was true, that his statement in connection with that of Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris was strictly correct, he had nothing to add to it, nor to diminish from it.[76]

Unknown Date
During our interview, Mr. Whitmer reiterated his testimony as given at the beginning of the Book of Mormon, saying that all he testified to there was true; that he had seen the plates and the Heavenly messenger, as he had stated.[77]

Throughout Richmond, Missouri, the non-Mormons knew David Whitmer as an honest and trustworthy citizen. When one anti-Mormon lectured in David’s hometown, branding David as disreputable, the local (non-Mormon) paper responded with “a spirited front-page editorial unsympathetic with Mormonism but insistent on ‘the forty six years of private citizenship on the part of David Whitmer, in Richmond, without stain or blemish.’”[78]

...The following year the editor penned a tribute on the eightieth birthday of David Whitmer, who “with no regrets for the past” still “reiterates that he saw the glory of the angel.”

This is the critical issue of the life of David Whitmer. During fifty years in non-Mormon society, he insisted with the fervor of his youth that he knew that the Book of Mormon was divinely revealed. Relatively few people in Richmond could wholly accept such testimony, but none doubted his intelligence or complete honesty.[79]

When another anti-Mormon published an article claiming that David had denied his testimony, David printed a “proclamation” testifying to the truth of the Book of Mormon and reiterating the fact that he had never denied that testimony. He wrote:

It is recorded in the American Cyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the Three Witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon: and that the two other witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that book. I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery nor Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died affirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.[80]

William E. McLellin wrote:

I saw him [David Whitmer] June 1879, and heard him bear his solemn testimony to the truth of the book—as sincerely and solemnly as when he bore it to me in Paris, Ill. in July 1831.[81]

Following Whitmer's death the Richmond Conservator wrote:

On Sunday evening before his death he called the family and his attending physician, Dr. George W. Buchanan, to his bedside and said, “Doctor do you consider that I am in my right mind?” to which the Doctor replied, “Yes, you are in your right mind, I have just had a conversation with you.” He then addressed himself to all present and said: “I want to give my dying testimony. You must be faithful in Christ. I want to say to you all that the Bible and the record of the Nephites, (The Book of Mormon) are true, so you can say that you have heard me bear my testimony on my death bed. . .  On Monday morning he again called those present to his bedside, and told them that he had seen another vision which reconfirmed the divinity of the “Book of Mormon,” and said that he had seen Christ in the fullness of his glory and majesty, sitting upon his great white throne in heaven waiting to receive his children.[82]

The Richmond Democrat also added this comment:

Skeptics may laugh and scoff if they will, but no man can listen to Mr. Whitmer as he talks of his interview with the Angel of the Lord, without being most forcibly convinced that he has heard an honest man tell what he honestly believes to be true.[83]

After talking as he did, so fully and freely he said "I have been asked if we saw those things with our natural eyes. Of course they were our natural eyes There is no doubt that our eyes were prepared for the sight, but they were our natural eyes nevertheless."

I asked him if the table was a tangible one, and he said it appeared to be, but they did not touch it.[84]

The thing which impressed me most of all was, as we stood beside the grave of Oliver Cowdery the other Witness, who had come back into the Church before his death, and [David Whitmer] in describing Oliver[']s action, when bearing his testimony, said to the people in his room, placing his hands like this upon his head, saying 'I know teh Gospel to be true and upon this head has Peter[,] James and John laid their hands and confer[r]ed the Holy Melchisedic Priesthood.' [85]

When Martin Harris came back to them [Joseph, Oliver, and David Whitmer], they knew he had also seen the angel, because his face was radiant and he declared he had received the testimony. David Whitmer told me they knew he had also seen the vision which they had, because he explained what they had themselves seen.[86]

 

Eight Witnesses

Christian Whitmer
Jacob Whitmer
Peter Whitmer Jr.
John Whitmer
Hiram Page
Joseph Smith Sr..
Hyrum Smith
Samuel H Smith

Testimony of the Eight Witnesses, 1829:

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Hostile newspaper:
The plates from which Smith, the author translates his book are said to be in his possession. Ten persons say they have seen them and hefted them, three declare that an angel of God appeared to them and showed them to them, and told them that God had given Smith power to be able to read them, understand them, and translate them. The names of those persons are signed to the certificates in the book.[88]

Joseph Smith Sr.

William Stafford claimed that the "elder Joseph would say that he had seen the plates and that he knew them to be gold; at other times he would say that they looked like gold; and other times he would say he had not seen the plates at all" (EMD III.A.13, WILLIAM STAFFORD STATEMENT, 8 DEC 1833, 240). Dan Vogel note: “But it is uncertain if this statement has direct bearing on Joseph Sr.'s testimony, or if his alleged denial of having seen the plates was given before or after his experience as one of the eight witnesses.”

Hyrum Smith

Hyrum Smith reportedly stated during a visit to Sunbury, Ohio, in 1838:

. . .he had but too [two] hands and too [two] eyes[.] he said he had seene the plates with his eyes and handeled them with his hands and he saw a brest plate and he told how it wass maid[.] it wass fixed for the brest of a man with a holer [hollow or concave] stomak and too [two] pieces upon eatch side with a hole throu them to put in a string to tye <<it>> on but that wass not so good gold as the plates for that was pure[.] why i write this is because thay dis=put[e] [the] Book so much (Sally Parker to John Kempton, 26 August 1838, microfilm, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; a portion cited in R. L. Anderson 1981, 159).

In December 1839, Hyrum evidently referred to his testimony when he said "I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had borne testimony to" (Times and Seasons 1 [December 1839]: 23).

Joseph Fielding, Hyrum's brother-in-law by his second marriage, said in 1841: "My sister [Mary Fielding Smith] bears testimony that her husband has seen and handled the plates, &c." (Joseph Fielding to Parley P. Pratt, 20 June 1841, in Millennial Star 2 [1841]: 52).

Recalling a sermon Hyrum delivered in 1844, Angus Cannon said: "When I was but ten years of age, I heard the testimony of the Patriarch Hyrum Smith . . . to the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the appearance of the plates from which it was translated" (Salt Lake Stake Historical Record, 25 January 1888, cited in R. L. Anderson 1981, 146).

After Liberty Jail: "I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had borne testimony to, wherever my lot had been cast."[110]

[W]ee wass talking about the Book of Mormon which he is one of the witnesses he said he had but too hands and too eyes he said he had seen the plates with his eyes and handled them with his hands.[111]

"[Mary Fielding Smith] bears testimony that her husband [Hyrum] has seen and handled the plates, &c."[112]

Another writer heard Hyrum "declare, in this city in public, that what is recorded about the plates, &c. &c. is God's solemn truth."[113]

"When I was but ten years of age, I heard the testimony of the Patriarch Hyrum Smith, one of the eight witnesses, to the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the appearance of the plates from which it was translated."[114]

Samuel Harrison Smith (1808-44)

In a late reminiscence, Daniel Tyler reported that in the spring of 1832 Samuel Smith said "he knew his brother Joseph had the plates, for the prophet had shown them to him, and he had handled them and seen the engravings thereon" (Tyler 1883, 23).

Elder [Samuel] Smith read the 29th chapter of Isaiah at the first meeting and delineated the circumstances of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, of which he said he was a witness. He knew his brother Joseph had the plates, for the prophet had shown them to him, and he had handled them and seen the engravings theron. His speech was more like a narrative than a sermon.[103]

Phineas Young (brother to Brigham Young) met Samuel on his first mission, and was given a Book of Mormon:

"Ah," said I, "You are one of the witnesses."

"Yes," said he, "I know the book to be a revelation from God, translated by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, and that my brother Joseph Smith, Jr., is a Prophet, Seer and Revelator."[104]

Hiram Page (1800-52)

In an 1847 statement, Page rejected the idea that he "could know a thing to be true in 1830, and know the same thing to be false in 1847."

He also denied that his mind had become "so treacherous that I had forgotten what I saw" (EMD VI.C.1, HIRAM PAGE TO WILLIAM MCLELLIN, 30 MAY 1847).

One of Page's sons told Andrew Jenson in 1888: "I knew my father to be true and faithful to his testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon until the very last. Whenever he had an opportunity to bear his testimony to this effect, he would always do so, and seemed to rejoice exceedingly in having been privileged to see the plates" (Historical Record 7 [1888]: 614).

Philander Page, son of Hiram Page, told George Edward Anderson in 1907 that his father "Never faltered in his testimony about the plates and the characters. Often related to Philander what they had seen and passed through" (Diary, 29, Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum, Salt Lake City, Utah, cited in Holzapfel, Cottle, and Stoddard 1995, 70).

John C. Whitmer, son of Jacob Whitmer, said in 1888: "I knew [Hiram Page] at all times and under all circumstances to be true to his testimony concerning the divinity of the Book of Mormon" (Deseret News, 17 September 1888, 2; rept. Saints' Herald 35 [13 October 1888]: 651).

Jacob Whitmer (1800-56)

Andrew Jenson, Edward Stevenson, and Joseph S. Black quoted John C. Whitmer, son of Jacob Whitmer, as stating: "My father, Jacob Whitmer, was always faithful and true to his testimony to the Book of Mormon, and confirmed it on his deathbed" (Deseret News, 17 September 1888, 2; rept. Saints' Herald 35 [13 October 1888]: 651).

John Whitmer (1802-87)

John Whitmer wrote in 1835:

It may not be amiss in this place, to give a statement to the world concerning the work of the Lord, as I have been a member of this church of Latter Day Saints from its beginning; to say that the book of Mormon is a revelation from God, I have no hesitancy; but with all confidence have signed my named to it as such; and I hope, that my patrons will indulge me in speaking freely on this subject, as I am about leaving the editorial department. Therefore I desire to testify to all that will come to the knowledge of this address; that I have most assuredly seen the plates from whence the book of Mormon is translated, and that I have handled these plates, and know of a surety that Joseph Smith, jr. has translated the book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and in this thing the wisdom of the wise most assuredly has perished: therefore, know ye, O ye inhabitants of the earth, wherever this address may come, that I have in this thing freed my garments of your blood, whether you believe or disbelieve the statements of your unworthy friend and well-wisher.[101]

I conclude you have read the Book of Mormon, together with the testimonies <underline>that</underline> are thereto attached; in which testimonies you read my name subscribed as one of the Eight witnesses to said Book. That <underline>testimony was</underline>, is, and <underline>will</underline> be <underline>true</underline> henceforth and forever."[94]

"I have never heard that any one of the three, or eight witnesses ever denied the testimony that they have borne to the Book as published in the first edition of the Book of Mormon."[93]

"Mr. [John] Whitmer is considered a truthful, honest and law abiding citizen by this community, and consequently, his appointment [to preach] drew out a large audience. Mr. Whitmer stated that he had often handled the identical golden plates which Mr. Smith received from the angel...."[95]

Whitmer reportedly said to Theodore Turley in April 1839:

Gentlemen, I presume there are men here who have heard [John] Corrill say, that Mormonism was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and inspired of God. I now call upon you, John Whitmer: you say Corrill is a moral and a good man; do you believe him when he says the Book of Mormon is true, or when he says it is not true? There are many things published that they say are true, and again turn around and say they are false.’ Whitmer asked, ‘Do you hint at me?’ Turley replied, ‘If the cap fits you, wear it; all I know is that you have published to the world that an angel did present those plates to Joseph Smith.’ Whitmer replied: ‘I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. I handled them;’ and he described how they were hung [on rings], and [said] ‘they were shown to me by a supernatural power;’ he acknowledged all.[97]

According to E. C. Brand of the RLDS church, in 1875 Whitmer "declared that his testimony, as found in . . . the Book of Mormon, is strictly true" (see EMD "John Whitmer Addendum").

On 5 March 1876, John Whitmer wrote Mark H. Forscutt of the RLDS church: "Oliver Cowdery lived in Richmond, Mo., some 40 miles from here, at the time of his death. I went to see him and was with him for some days previous to his demise. I have never heard him deny the truth of his testimony of the Book of Mormon under any circumstances whatever. . . . Neither do I believe that he would have denied, at the peril of his life; so firm was he that he could not be made to deny what he has affirmed to be a divine revelation from God. . . . I have never heard that any one of the three or eight witnesses ever denied the testimony that they have borne to the Book as published in the first edition of the Book of Mormon. There are only two of the witnesses to that book now living, to wit. David Whitmer, one of the three, and John Wh[itmer], one of the eight. Our names have gone forth to all nations, tongues and people as a divine revelation from God. And it will bring to pass the designs of God according to the declaration therein contained.[15]

On 11 December 1876, Whitmer wrote to Heman C. Smith of the RLDS church concerning his testimony in the Book of Mormon: "That testimony was, is, and will be true, henceforth and forever" (EMD VI.B.5, JOHN WHITMER TO HEMAN C. SMITH, 11 DEC 1876).

Whitmer told Myron Bond in 1878: “[O]ld Father Whitmer told me last winter, with tears in his eyes, that he knew as well as he knew he had an existence that Joseph translated the ancient writing which was upon the plates, which he 'saw and handled,' and which, as one of the scribes, he helped to copy, as the words fell from Joseph's lips, by supernatural or almighty power"[99].

In 1878, P. Wilhelm Poulson recalled John Whitmer said: I am aware that your name is affixed to the testimony in the Book of Mormon, that you saw the plates?

He–It is so, and that testimony is true.

I–Did you handle the plates with your hands?

He–I did so!

I–Then they were a material substance?

He–Yes, as material as anything can be.

I–They were heavy to lift?

He–Yes, and you know gold is a heavy metal, they were very heavy.

I–How big were the leaves?

He–So far as I recollect, 8 by 6 or 7 inches.

I–Were the leaves thick? He–Yes, just so thick, that characters could be engraven on both sides.

I–How were the leaves joined together?

He–In three rings, each one in the shape of a D with the straight line towards the centre. I-In what place did you see the plates.

He-In Joseph Smith's house; he had them there.

I–Did you see them covered with a cloth?

He–No. He handed them uncovered into our hands, and we turned the leaves sufficient to satisfy us.

I-Were you all eight witnesses present at the same time?

He-No. At that time Joseph showed the plates to us, we were four persons, present in the room, and at another time he showed them to four persons more....

when Joseph Smith [III]...sent word to John Whitmer to reaffirm his testimony, his answer was: 'I have never recalled it, and I have nothing to reaffirm.'[100]

Peter Whitmer, Jr.

Oliver Cowdery said: “Among those who have gone home to rest, we mention the names of our two brothers-in-law, Christian and Peter Whitmer, jr. the former died on the 27th of November 1835, and the other the 22nd of September last, in Clay county, Missouri. By many in this church, our brothers were personally known: they were the first to embrace the new covenant, on hearing it, and during a constant scene of persecution and perplexity, to their last moments, maintained its truth -- they were both included in the list of the eight witnesses in the book of Mormon, and though they have departed, it is with great satisfaction that we reflect, that they proclaimed to their last moments, the certainty of their former testimony: The testament is in force after the death of the testator. May all who read remember the fact, that the Lord has given men a witness of himself in the last days, and that they, have faithfully declared it till called away.”[105]

Christian Whitmer

Oliver Cowdery said: “Among those who have gone home to rest, we mention the names of our two brothers-in-law, Christian and Peter Whitmer, jr. the former died on the 27th of November 1835, and the other the 22nd of September last, in Clay county, Missouri. By many in this church, our brothers were personally known: they were the first to embrace the new covenant, on hearing it, and during a constant scene of persecution and perplexity, to their last moments, maintained its truth -- they were both included in the list of the eight witnesses in the book of Mormon, and though they have departed, it is with great satisfaction that we reflect, that they proclaimed to their last moments, the certainty of their former testimony: The testament is in force after the death of the testator. May all who read remember the fact, that the Lord has given men a witness of himself in the last days, and that they, have faithfully declared it till called away.”[106]

 

Other Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

Lucy Mack Smith

In a few days we were follow by Joseph and Oliver and the Whitmers who came to make us a visit and also to make some arrangements about getting the book printed soon after they came They all that is the male part of the company repaired to a little grove where it was customary for the family to offer up their secret prayers. as Joseph had been instructed that the plates would be carried there by one of the ancient Nephites. Here it was that those 8 witnesses recorded in the Book of Mormon looked upon the plates and handled them of which they bear witness in the [title page of the Book of Mormon]. . . . After the witnesses returned to the house the Angel again made his appearance to Joseph and received the plates from his hands.[87]

William Smith

that they [the Eight Witnesses] not only Saw with their eyes but handled with their hands the said record . . . nor has either or any one of these witnesses ever to my knowledge Counteracted the testimony as given above Concerning the real existence of these Mormon tablets.[89]

Richard Anderson described multiple accounts of all the Witnesses bearing testimony and reaffirming their published testimony:[90]

The three Smiths who formally gave their names as seeing and handling the plates were the Prophet's father, Joseph Smith, Sr.; the Prophet's older brother, Hyrum; and his immediately younger brother, Samuel Harrison. They sometimes joined the other Book of Mormon witnesses to reaffirm their testimony printed in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon regarding lifting and turning the leaves of the plates. After quoting the published statements of the Three and Eight Witnesses, and describing the experience of the latter group, Lucy Smith relates, "The ensuing evening, we held a meeting, in which all the witnesses bore testimony to the facts as stated above."[91]

Two years later, in the period of dynamic preaching of the early elders, a conference was held near Cleveland, Ohio, remembered by Luke Johnson as follows: "At this conference the eleven witnesses to the Book of Mormon, with uplifted hands, bore their solemn testimony to the truth of that book, as did also the Prophet Joseph."[92]

Mary Whitmer:
David Whitmer had invited Joseph and Oliver to live in his father’s home while translating the Book of Mormon. When Oliver’s hand and Joseph’s eyes grew tired they went to the woods for a rest. There they often skated rocks on a pond. Mary Whitmer, with five grown sons and a husband to care for, besides visitors, often grew tired. She thought they might just as well carry her a bucket of water or chop a bit of wood as to skate rocks on a pond. She was about to order them out of her home. One morning, just at daybreak, she came out of her cow stable with two full buckets of milk in her hands, when a short, heavy-set, gray-haired man carrying a package met her and said, “My name is Moroni. You have become pretty tired with all the extra work you have to do. The Lord has given me permission to show you this record:” turning the golden leaves one by one!*