Book of Mormon/Lamanites/Relationship to Amerindians/Statements/19th century

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Statements by Church leaders regarding the Lamanites: 19th century

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This page is a chronology of statements from primary and secondary sources. Sources may be viewed by following the citation links.

1831: "The Holy Bible professes to be a history of the peopling of the old continent–the Golden Bible of the new continent"

A critic of the Church wrote:

The Holy Bible professes to be a history of the peopling of the old continent–the Golden Bible of the new continent.[1]

1833: "We are glad to see the proof begin to come"

Evening and Morning Star:

We are glad to see the proof [from Central American ruins] begin to come, of the original or ancient inhabitants of this continent. It is good testimony in favor of the book of Mormon, and the book of Mormon is good testimony that such things as cities and civilization, "prior to the fourteenth century," existed in America. Helaman, in the book of Mormon, gives the following very interesting account of the people who lived upon this continent, before the birth of the Savior.[2]

1834: "There will be tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who will be gathered in the Rocky Mountains and there they will open the door for the establishing of the Gospel among the Lamanites"

Joseph Smith in 1834 (as reported by Wilford Woodruff in 1898):

It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America– it will fill the world.’ Among other things he said, `it will fill the Rocky Mountains. There will be tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who will be gathered in the Rocky Mountains and there they will open the door for the establishing of the Gospel among the Lamanites, who will receive the Gospel and their endowments and the blessings of God.[3]

1835: "he said the indians were the literal descendants of Abraham"

Joseph Smith Journal on Moroni's first visits:

He told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians were the literal descendants of Abraham he explained many things of the prophesies to me[4]

1837: "a remnant of the branches or seed of Joseph are represented as crossing the sea, and settling this continent of North and South America"

William Smith:

Now, the beauty of this simile or figure can only be discovered by those who take the pains to contrast it with the literal fact as it occurred; the relation of which may be found in the Book of Mormon, first Book of Nephi, where a remnant of the branches or seed of Joseph are represented as crossing the sea, and settling this continent of North and South America.[5]

1841: "I conducted them to the meeting grounds in the grove, and instructed them in many things which the Lord had revealed unto me concerning their fathers"

12 August 1841, Joseph Smith meeting with the Sac and Fox Indians:

I conducted them to the meeting grounds in the grove, and instructed them in many things which the Lord had revealed unto me concerning their fathers, and the promises that were made concerning them in the Book of Mormon. I advised them to cease killing each other and warring with other tribes; also to keep peace with the whites; all of which was interpreted to them.[6]

1842: "The city was in some region on the South of what is called at this time, North America"

John E. Page:

The city [Moronihah] was in some region on the South of what is called at this time, North America, and at the time our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, near Jerusalem, in Asia. At that time there was a terrible destruction on this continent, because of the wickedness of the people, at which time those cities were destroyed . . . . And how was you destroyed? was the inquiry of those efficient antiquarians Messrs. Catherwood and Stephens, the charge d’affairs of these United States, as they sit on the wondrous walls of “Copan” . . . . Read book of Mormon, 3d edition, page 549. Let the reader observe, that the book of Mormon was published A. D. 1830. The discovery of this city by Messrs. Catherwood and Stephens was in 1840. Read Stephens’ travels in Central America, vol. i. page 130, 131, &c. Mr. Stephens states, “There is no account of these ruins until the visit of Col. Galindo in 1836, before referred to, who examined them under a commission from the Central American government.” Question.—If the book of Mormon is a fiction, no difference who wrote it, how did it happen to locate this city so nicely before it was known to exist till 1836 by any account that was extant in America, from which it could have been extracted?[7]

1842: "the American Indians were once an enlightened people and understood the arts and sciences, as the ruined cities and monuments lately discovered fully prove"

Weekly Bostonian:

He introduced an account of many American antiquities together with the discoveries lately made by Mr. Stevens, that all go to prove that the American Indians were once an enlightened people and understood the arts and sciences, as the ruined cities and monuments lately discovered fully prove . . . . The Book of Mormon was not only a history of the dealings of God with the descendants of Joseph on this continent, previous to the crucifixion of our Lord, but also an account of the gospel as established among them by the personal appearance of Christ on this continent . . . [8]

1844: "Found a book, which told me about your fathers & Great spirit told me"

22-23 May 1844, Joseph Smith meeting with the Sac and Fox Indians:

Great Spirit wants you to be united & live in peace. Found a book, (presenting the Book of Mormon) which told me about your fathers & Great spirit told me. You must send to all the tribes you can, & tell them to live in peace, & when any of our people come to see you treat them as we treat you.[9]

1852: "Four-fifths, or perhaps nine-tenths of the vast population of Peru, as well as of most other countries of Spanish America, are of the blood of Lehi"

Parley P. Pratt:

Should Peru sustain her liberties, a field is opened in the heart of Spanish America, and in the largest, best informed and most influential city and nation of South America, for the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the fulness of the Gospel to be introduced. Four-fifths, or perhaps nine-tenths of the vast population of Peru, as well as of most other countries of Spanish America, are of the blood of Lehi.[10]

1853: "they have driven us into the midst of the Lamanites, where we can preach the Gospel unto them"

Brigham Young:

Could we have preached to the Lamanites, if we had staid in Nauvoo? No, we could not; but the people have driven us to a place where we can do much more good, than we could have accomplished by remaining in Nauvoo; they have driven us into the midst of the Lamanites, where we can preach the Gospel unto them.[11]

Notes

  1. Wm. Owen, “A Comparison between the Book of Mormon and the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, or The Golden Bible vs. The Holy Bible,” Free Enquirer, New York, 10 September 1831.
  2. "Discovery of Ancient Ruins in Central America," Evening and Morning Star 1 no. 9 (February, 1833), [71]. off-siteGospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  3. Wilford Woodruff, Conference Report (April 1898), 57.
  4. Joseph Smith Journal, November 9, 1835; cited in Dean C. Jesse, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Richard L. Jensen, eds., The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals Volume 1:1832-1839 (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 88-89.
  5. William Smith, "Evidences of the Book of Mormon," Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 3 no. 4 (January, 1837), 434.
  6. History of the Church, 4:401. Volume 4 link
  7. John E. Page, "To a Disciple," Morning Chronicle (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (1 July 1842). off-site
  8. Weekly Bostonian, 9 July 1842. Reprinted in the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 3/5 (September 1842): 87.
  9. Joseph Smith Journal, 23 May, 1844; cited in Joseph Smith, An American Prophet's Record:The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott Faulring, Significant Mormon Diaries Series No. 1, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989), 482.
  10. Parley P. Pratt to Brigham Young, 13 March 1852, in Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography, 368.
  11. Brigham Young, Millennial Star 16 (25 March 1854). (9 October 1853)