Samuel Smith: Missionary to Prophets

https://history.lds.org/article/samuel-smith-missionary-to-prophets?lang=eng

15 June 2016

Samuel H. Smith, though not as well known as his older brothers Joseph and Hyrum Smith, played an influential role in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1829 he moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to work Josephs farm while Joseph translated the Book of Mormon,1 and he even briefly served as Josephs scribe. He was the third person baptized after the Aaronic Priesthood was restored,2 and he was chosen as one of the Eight Witnesses to see and handle the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. When the Church was organized, Samuel was one of the six original members.3 It seems fitting, then, that Samuel was called as the first missionary of the newly organized Church.

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Emma Smiths copy of the 1841 Book of Mormon found

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865639100/Emma-Smith7s-copy-of-the-1841-Book-of-Mormon-found.html

Lynn and Tanya Bascom, an LDS couple from Bountiful, Utah, went on vacation this past June, touring some of the nations historical sites in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. At the home of John Quincy Adams, they found an 1841 copy of the Book of Mormon that originally belonged to someone very special in Church history Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

We went back East for a wedding in Nantucket, said Lynn Bascom. My wife was born in Cape Cod, and we love to visit the New England area. While they were there, Brother and Sister Bascom decided to visit some historical sites associated with the family of John Adams in Quincy, Massachusetts.

The final stop on the Adams historical sites tour is the Old House at Peacefield, the home of John Quincy Adams. In his will, John Quincy Adams requested that his library of books be preserved in a fireproof structure, said Brother Bascom. The library is actually a quaint little cottage that is a separate stone building [housing] more than 14,000 volumes. They put in sky lights so you can see the vast array of books there.

The National Park Service oversees the tour of the Adams historic homes and a park ranger led the tour that the Bascoms attended. The guide doing the tour asked us where we were from, and we told him we were from Utah, said Tanya Bascom. He asked us if we would be interested in seeing a copy of the early edition of the Book of Mormon and directed us to a table in the library that contained several books. About six feet away from us was an 1841 copy of the Book of Mormon given to Charles Francis Adams by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

My wife asked if we could touch the Book of Mormon but we were told no, said Brother Bascom. There was also no photography allowed in the home. It was nice the guide threw it out there that the book existed. There was a large table of books that were out for display, and we could see it just a few feet away. We had taken this tour before and never noticed the Book of Mormon.

The story might have ended there without the help of Utah historian Ron Fox, a member of the Salt Lake 14th Ward. The Bascoms shared their experience with him when they returned home from their vacation and then he went to work trying to find out more. Working with the National Park Service, he obtained photos of the Book of Mormon. The results were astonishing.

The photos showed the spine of the book, indicating that it had been Emma Smiths personal copy. A few of the copies of the 1841 Book of Mormon, the first to be published in England, were engraved with the names of early Church leaders, said Brother Fox. Joseph, Emma and Hyrum all had their own copies, as well as the members of the Quorum of the Twelve and their wives. No one knew where Emma’s copy was until now. Now I wonder where Joseph Smiths copy is. Somebody might have an 1841 copy of the Book of Mormon with the name Joseph Smith engraved on it and not realize it was his personal copy.

The photos also revealed that Joseph Smith had personally signed the book and Adams had documented the receipt on the same page underneath Joseph Smiths name. Adams wrote in the Book of Mormon he received, The above is the autograph of the chief of the Mormons who gave me this book at Nauvoo on the 15th of May 1844. It was signed C. F. Adams.

Joseph Smith did not sign more than a handful of copies of the Book of Mormon, said Brother Fox. This signature and the fact that it was Emmas copy means the book would be worth a great deal if it were on the public market, probably in excess of a million dollars or more.

To understand the significance of this discovery, it is important to substantiate the historical accuracy with the journal accounts of the two men who visited Nauvoo in May of 1844. Charles Francis Adams Sr. was the son of President John Quincy Adams and grandson of President John Adams. He was serving in the Massachusetts State Senate at the time of his visit and would later become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His traveling companion was Josiah Quincy Jr. He was serving as a member of the Boston city council at the time of his visit and was elected the mayor of Boston the following year in 1845. They decided to make a stop in Nauvoo. Both of them recorded separate experiences in their journals.

From the journal of Charles Francis Adams, May 14, 1844: As we went on it became very necessary that we should settle upon our course. Quincy [Josiah Quincy Jr., Adams’ traveling companion] wished to stop at Nauvoo, the city of the Mormons and see something of Joe Smith, the prophet.

Traveling on the Steamer boat Amaranth, the two stopped in Nauvoo. At the door of a two-story wooden house with a sign post before it, we stopped and were introduced to the celebrated Joe Smith, writes Adams. A middle-aged man with a shrewd but rather ordinary expression of countenance, unshaved and in clothes neither very choice nor neat. The whole air of the man was that of frank but not coarse vulgarity. He received us civilly and forthwith introduced us into his house. (In the early 19th century, “vulgar” meant “common, but not necessarily disgusting” [A Guide to Eighteenth-Century English Vocabulary, Jack Lynch, 14 April 2006, p. 21])

While in Nauvoo, the prophet Joseph Smith entertained, housed and fed them. They visited the construction site of the Nauvoo Temple, discussed religion and politics and Adams and Quincy both saw the Egyptian mummies and manuscript Joseph had procured. Adams writes, He then took us down into his mother’s chamber and showed us four Egyptian mummies stripped and then undertook to explain the contents of a chart or manuscript which he said had been taken from the bosom of one of them.

I think it important to note that Joseph was happy to meet with these men, said Brother Fox. They were important in their time, a son of the president of Harvard and son and grandson of the president [of the United States], and at the time President John Quincy Adams was still alive. These were both elected officials and I believe Joseph was looking to build the creditability of the Church in the East and to get help for the Church from the attacks of its enemies.

The possibility that two copies of the Book of Mormon were given out, one to each visitor, is hinted at in the book Figures of the Past From the Leaves of Old Journals by Josiah Quincy Jr. He writes, I have before me some relics of my visit to Nauvoo. Here is the Book of Mormon, bearing the autograph which its alleged discoverer and translator wrote, at my request.

Quincy also shared his impressions about his visit with the Prophet Joseph Smith. He had already traversed the roughest part of the way to that coveted position, he wrote. Born in the lowest ranks of poverty, without book-learning and with the homeliest of all human names, he had made himself at the age of thirty-nine a power upon earth. Of the multitudinous family of Smith, from Adam down (Adam of the “Wealth of Nations,” I mean), none had so won human hearts and shaped human lives as this Joseph. His influence, whether for good or for evil, is potent today, and the end is not yet.

Its thrilling that there is a copy of the Book of Mormon out there with such a wonderful background, said Brother Bascom. Its fascinating to think that it is part of the Quincy Library and interesting how it fits his diary. Establishing these historical moments with historical artifacts dispels a lot of the misconceptions out there that Joseph Smith was not real or Mormonism is fiction.

Sister Bascom said, From the whole experience I was left with this thought: John Adams and his family were part of bringing new freedoms to the people of the United States. Through freedom of religion, the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ were allowed to flourish. This is a token of what Adams fought for and therefore he passed the blessing of the restoration of the gospel on to us. Not a lot of people know how much they have been blessed by his efforts. This is one of the hidden gems about this historical tour.

rmorgenegg@desnews.com

The LDS Church News is an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The publication’s content supports the doctrines, principles and practices of the Church.

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Defending the Faith: Did Book of Mormon witnesses simply see the golden plates with their ‘spiritual eyes’?

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865629099/The-plates-of-the-Book-of-Mormon-As-material-as-anything-can-be.html

By Daniel Peterson , For the Deseret News
Published: Saturday, May 23 2015 2:27 p.m. MDT

I continually encounter the confident declaration that the witnesses to the Book of Mormon didnt really see or touch anything at all and didnt actually claim to have seen or touched anything. They only saw the plates with their spiritual eyes, Im assured, and spiritual eyes, to them, meant in their imaginations.

I responded to this assertion in a column published five years ago (see “Book of Mormon witness testimonies” published May 25, 2010). However, since the claim continues to be made, and given the fundamental importance of this issue, I address it yet again, in somewhat different fashion.

Ill leave aside the question of whether its even remotely plausible that the witnesses sacrificed so very much for something they recognized as merely imaginary. Lets look at their explicit verbal testimonies. Several of the 11 official witnesses were obviously confronted during their lifetimes with accusations that they had merely hallucinated, and they repeatedly rejected such proposed explanations.

In fact, David Whitmer, one of the initial Three Witnesses, could easily have been addressing todays skeptics when he declared 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!

Its difficult to imagine how he could have been any clearer.

In this column, though, Ill focus on the experience of the Eight Witnesses, which seems to have included no explicitly supernatural elements but, rather, to have been a wholly matter-of-fact event.

In late 1839, Hyrum Smith wrote an account for the Times and Seasons newspaper covering, among other things, his four months of hungry and cold imprisonment in Missouris Liberty Jail, under recurring threats of execution, while his family and fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were being driven from their homes during the wintertime:

I thank God, he told the Saints, that 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. I can assure my beloved brethren that I was enabled to bear as strong a testimony, when nothing but death presented itself, as ever I did in my life.

One might dismiss this declaration of willingness to die for his testimony as an empty boast, mere retrospective bravado, were it not for the fact that, less than five years later in Illinois, fully understanding the risk, he did in fact go voluntarily to Carthage Jail. There, with his prophet-brother, he died as a martyr which, in ancient Greek, means witness in a hail of bullets.

The accounts left behind by the Eight Witnesses are replete not only with claims to have seen and hefted the plates, to have turned their individual leaves and examined their engravings, but also with estimates of their weight, descriptions of their physical form and the rings that bound them, and reports of their approximate dimensions as well.

Wilhelm Poulsons 1878 interview with John Whitmer provides an excellent summary:

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 can 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 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.

William Smith, who knew the Eight Witnesses well his father and two of his brothers were among them explained they not only saw with their eyes but handled with their hands the said record. Daniel Tyler heard Samuel Smith testify that 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.

Those who seek to dismiss the testimony of the Eight Witnesses must, on the whole, flatly brush aside what they actually, and very forcefully, said.

For further evidence and analysis on this topic, see Richard Lloyd Andersons 2005 article Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses online at publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu.


Daniel Peterson teaches Arabic studies, founded BYUs Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, directs MormonScholarsTestify.org, chairs mormoninterpreter.com, blogs daily at patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson, and speaks only for himself.

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