Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates/Unsuccessful retrieval

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An analysis of claims made in the Wikipedia article "Golden plates" - Unsuccessful retrieval attempts

A FairMormon Analysis of: Wikipedia article "Golden plates", a work by author: Various

An analysis of claims made in the Wikipedia article "Golden plates" - Unsuccessful retrieval attempts


 Updated 9/21/2011

Section review

Unsuccessful retrieval attempts

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

According to Smith's followers, Smith said he took the plates from the box, put them on the ground, and covered the box with the stone to protect the other treasures it contained.

Author's sources:
  1. Knight (1833) , p. 2 (account by Joseph Knight, Sr., a loyal life-long follower who had worked with Smith in treasure expeditions); Smith (1853) , p. 85 (account by Smith's mother, saying this occurred on Smith's second visit to the hill); Salisbury (1895) , p. 14 (account of Smith's sister, saying this occurred on Smith's third visit to the hill, but that it happened prior to their brother Alvin's death, which was in November 1823); Cowdery (1835b) , p. 197 (account by Smith's second-in-command Oliver Cowdery, stating that when Smith was looking in the box for other artifacts, he hadn't yet removed the plates).

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    Joseph Knight's statement regarding "some fancied or imaginary treasure" has been portrayed by the wiki editor as "the other treasures [the box] contained." From Joseph Knight's account:

...he had laid them down with the view of securing some fancied or imaginary treasure that remained.

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    The first cited source Knight (1833) , p. 2 says nothing about Joseph Knight being a "loyal life-long follower who had worked with Smith in treasure expeditions." In fact, Knight states that Joseph "had heard people tell of such things." From the cited source, p. 2 (original spelling preserved):

From thence he went to the hill where he was informed the Record was and found no trouble for it appeard plain as tho he was acquainted with the place it was so plain in the vision that he had of the place. He went and found the place and opened it and found a plane Box. He oncovered it and found the Book and took it out and laid [it] Down By his side and thot he would Cover the place over again thinking there might be something else here. But he was told to take the Book and go right away. And after he had Covered the place he turned round to take the Book and it was not there and he was astonished that the Book was gone. He thot he would look in the place again and see if it had not got Back again. He had heard people tell of such things. And he opened the Box and Behold the Book was there. He took hold of it to take it out again and Behold he Could not stur the Book any more then he Could the mountin. He exclaimed “why Cant I stur this Book?” And he was answered, “you cant have it now.” Joseph says, “when can I have it?” The answer was the 22nt Day of September next if you Bring the right person with you. Joseph says,” who is the right Person?” The answer was “your oldest Brother.”


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Nevertheless, the accounts say, when Smith looked back at the ground after closing the box, the plates had once again disappeared into it.

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1853) , p. 85 (account by Smith's mother); Knight (1833) , p. 2 (account by Smith's life-long friend Joseph Knight, Sr.); Salisbury (1895) , p. 14 (account of Smith's sister).

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

From the cited source Knight (1833) , p. 2:

And after he had Covered the place he turned round to take the Book and it was not there and he was astonished that the Book was gone. He thot he would look in the place again and see if it had not got Back again. He had heard people tell of such things.

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

According to two non-believing Palmyra residents, when Smith once again raised the stone and attempted to retrieve the plates, Smith saw something in the box like a toad that grew larger and struck him to the ground.

Author's sources:
  1. Chase (1833) , p. 242 (account of Palmyra resident Willard Chase, who heard the story from Smith's father in 1827 and was a non-believer); Saunders (1884a) (account of Benjamin Saunders, a sympathetic non-believer who heard the story from Joseph Smith in 1827); Saunders (1893) (account of Orson Saunders, a non-believer who heard it from Benjamin Saunders).

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Although Smith's followers do not mention a toad-like creature, they agree with several non-believers that Smith said he was stricken by a supernatural force that hurled him to the ground as many as three times.

Author's sources:
  1. Writing with Smith's assistance for a church periodical, Oliver Cowdery said that Smith was stricken three times with an ever increasing force, persisting after the second blow because he thought the plates were held by the power of an "enchantment" (like hidden-treasure stories he had heard) that could be overcome by physical exertion Cowdery (1835b) , pp. 197–98. Smith's mother said he was stricken by a force but did not say how many times Smith (1853) , p. 86. Willard Chase said Smith was stricken at least twice Chase (1833) , p. 242. Fayette Lapham, who said he heard the story in about 1830 from Smith's father, said Smith was stricken three times with ever-increasing force Lapham (1870) , p. 306. Two neighbors who heard the story from Smith in Harmony in the late 1820s said Smith was knocked down three times Lewis (Lewis) , p. 1. Smith himself said he made three unsuccessful attempts to take the plates that day, but he did not mention his being stricken Smith (1832) , p. 3. Smith's sister Katharine stated that three times, "he felt a pressure pushing hom [him] away" Salisbury (1895) , p. 14. David Whitmer said that the angel struck Smith three times with such force that he was knocked off the hill onto the surrounding plain and had to reascend it Whitmer (1875) .

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Disconcerted by his inability to obtain the plates, Smith said he briefly wondered whether his experience had been a "dreem of Vision" [sic].

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1832) , p. 3.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

According to the cited source:

I immediately went to the place and found where the plates was deposited as the angel of the Lord had commanded me and straightway made three attempts to get them and then being excedingly frightened I supposed it had been a dreem of Vision but when I consid[e]red I knew that it was not therefore I cried unto the Lord in the agony of my soul why can I not obtain them... off-site

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Concluding that it was not, he said he prayed asking why he had been barred from taking the plates.

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1832) , p. 3; Knight (1833) , p. 2 (saying Smith exclaimed, "why Cant I stur this Book?"); Cowdery (1835b) , p. 198 (saying that Smith exclaimed, without premeditation, "Why can I not obtain this book?"); Salisbury (1895) , p. 14 (saying Smith asked, "Lord, what have I done, that I can not get these records?")

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

In response to his question, Smith said the angel appeared and told him he could not receive the plates because he "had been tempted of the advisary (sic) and saught (sic) the Plates to obtain riches and kept not the commandments that I should have".

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1832) , p. 3; Knight (1833) , p. 2 (saying the angel said "you cant have it now", to which Smith responded, "when can I have it?" and the angel said "the 22nt Day of September next if you Bring the right person with you".); Cowdery (1835b) , pp. 197–98 (stating that although Smith "supposed his success certain", his failure to keep the "commandments" led to his inability to obtain them). In Smith's 1838 account he said the angel had already told him he would not receive the plates for another four years Smith (1838a) , p. 7. Smith's brother, who was 11 at the time, said "upon his return [he] told us that in consequence of his not obeying strictly the commandments which the angel had given him, he could not obtain the record until four years from that time" Smith (1883) , p. 10. Smith's sister Katharine (who was 10 at the time) said that Moroni told Smith, "You have not obeyed the commandments as you were commanded to; you must obey His commandments in every particular. You were not to lay them out of your hands until you had them in safe keeping" Salisbury (1895) , p. 14.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

According to Smith's followers, Smith had also broken the angel's commandment "not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands",

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1853) , p. 85; Knight (1833) , p. 2.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    The reason for not setting the plates down is given in the source, but not by the wiki editor. Here is the Knight quote in context:

He kneeled down and asked the Lord why the Record had been taken from him; upon which the angel of the Lord appeared to him, and told him that he had not done as he had been commanded, for in a former revelation he had been commanded not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands, until he got into the house and deposited them in a chest or trunk, having a good lock and key, and, contrary to this, he had laid them down with the view of securing some fancied or imaginary treasure that remained. (emphasis added)

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

and according to a non-believer, Smith said "I had forgotten to give thanks to God" as required by the angel.

Author's sources:
  1. Saunders (1893) (statement of Orson Saunders, who heard the account from his uncle Benjamin Saunders, who heard it from Smith in 1827).

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Smith said the angel instructed him to return the next year, on September 22, 1824, with the "right person": his older brother Alvin.

Author's sources:
  1. Knight (1833) , p. 2 (account of Joseph Knight, Sr., a life-long follower of Smith); Lapham (1870) , p. 307 (account of Fayette Lapham, who became a skeptic after hearing the story from Smith's father in 1830); Salisbury (1895) , p. 14 (account of Smith's sister Katharine).

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

From Joseph Knight,

Joseph says, “when can I have it?” The answer was the 22nt Day of September next if you Bring the right person with you. Joseph says,” who is the right Person?” The answer was “your oldest Brother.”


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Alvin died in November 1823, and Smith returned to the hill in 1824 to ask what he should do.

Author's sources:
  1. Salisbury (1895) , p. 14. Smith (1853) , p. 85 (account of Smith's mother). About the time of the scheduled September 22, 1824 meeting with the angel that Alvin was to attend, there were rumors in Palmyra that Alvin's body had been dug up and dissected. To quell these rumors, Joseph's father brought witnesses to exhume the body three days after Joseph's reported meeting with the angel (September 25) and then ran a notice in a local newspaper stating that the body remained undisturbed—except, of course, by Smith, Sr. and the witnesses. Smith (1824) .

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    We are unsure why the wiki editors decided to include the story of Alvin's body in the footnote, and what exactly this has to do with the "Golden plates."
  •  Correct, per cited sources
    According to Joseph Knight,

But before September Came his oldest Brother Died. Then he was Disapinted and did not [k]now what to do. But when the 22nt Day of September Came he went to the place and the personage appeard and told him he Could not have it now. But the 22nt Day of September nex he mite have the Book if he Brot with him the right person. Joseph says, “who is the right Person?” The answer was you will know.


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Smith said he was told to return the following year (1825) with the "right person"—although the angel did not tell Smith who that person might be.

Author's sources:
  1. Knight (1833) , p. 2; Salisbury (1895) , p. 14 (saying the angel said, "You will know her when you see her.").

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

chase (1833) , p. 243 states, "On asking who might be the man, he was answered that he would know him when he saw him."


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

For the visit on September 22, 1825, Smith may have attempted to bring his treasure-hunting associate Samuel T. Lawrence,

Author's sources:
  1. Chase (1833) , p. 243; Knight (1833) , p. 3 (saying Lawrence was a seer and had been to the hill and knew what was there); Harris (1859) , p. 164 (identifying Samuel T. Lawrence as a practitioner of crystal gazing).

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    The wiki editor has moved beyond the information contained in the cited source. Willard Chase said that Joseph took Samuel Lawrence to the hill—he does not say that it occurred on September 22, 1825. From chase (1833) , p. 243

The spirit then commanded him to come again, in just one year, and bring a man with him. On asking who might be the man, he was answered that he would know him when he saw him. Joseph believed that one Samuel T. Lawrence was the man alluded to by the spirit, and went with him to a singular looking hill, in Manchester, and shewed him where the treasure was.


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates"} make(s) the following claim:

but eventually, Smith determined after looking into his seer stone that the "right person" was Emma Hale, his future wife.

Author's sources:
  1. Knight (1833) , p. 2; Salisbury (1895) , p. 15 (saying that Smith "knew when he saw her that she was the one to go with him to get the records").

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    The wiki editor is performing original research by determining which of the second-hand accounts is correct. Note that a different second-hand source, chase (1833) , p. 243, states, "On asking who might be the man, he was answered that he would know him when he saw him."


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Smith said that he visited the hill "at the end of each year" for four years after the first visit in 1823,

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1838a) , p. 7.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

but there is no record of him being in the vicinity of Palmyra between January 1826 and January 1827 when he returned to New York from Pennsylvania with his new wife.

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1853) , pp. 99–100.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.
    Violated by John Foxe —Diff: off-site

    "Smith said...but there is no record..." The wiki editor is implying that Joseph Smith was a liar based upon an absence of evidence that proves that he was in the area at a specific time. This was hidden under an edit summary that claimed that these were "stylistic tweaks."


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

In January 1827, Smith visited the hill and then told his parents that the angel had severely chastised him for not being "engaged enough in the work of the Lord",

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1853) , p. 99.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event


The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

which may have meant that he had missed his annual visit to the hill in 1826.

Author's sources:
  1. Smith's father is cited as stating Smith was late one year and missed the date for visiting the hill, and therefore was chastised by the angel Lapham (1870) , p. 307.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.

    The statement that Joseph may have "missed his annual visit" is original research by the wiki editor.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by John Foxe —Diff: off-site

    The second-hand source does not indicate that Joseph may have "missed his annual visit to the hill in 1826." The source states that when Joseph went to the hill, that he "had not been punctual in following [the angel's] directions."
  • From the cited source,

The year passed over before Joseph was aware of it, so time passed by; but he went to the place of deposit, where the same man appeared again, and said he had not been punctual in following his directions, and, in consequence, he could not have the article yet.


References

Wikipedia references for "Golden Plates"

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Articles on this subject

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