Book of Mormon geography/Models/Limited/Meldrum 2003/Section 3:Joseph Smith

FAIR Answers Wiki Table of Contents

Claims made in section 3: Joseph Smith

Page Claim Response Author's sources

DVD 3-3:55

  • The DVD provides the following quote from the Wentworth Letter, in which Joseph said:

"I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, where they came from, a brief sketch of their origin, their progress, their civilization, their laws, their governments. And all this happened on this continent...The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country." (emphasis added)

  •  Misrepresentation of source
  • Note that the following text from the Wentworth Letter is ommitted from the presentation:

The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Saviour [Savior] made his appearance upon this continent after his resurrection, that he planted the gospel here in all its fulness [fullness], and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessing, as was enjoyed on the eastern continent, that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions... (emphasis added)

  • Note that in the portion of the Wentworth letter that follows the quote given by the presenter, that Joseph refers to "the eastern continent."
  • It is claimed that the reference to "this country" refers to the United States of America. One must remember that the United States was much smaller at this time.
  • Most of the Native Americans referred to resided in territories which were not part of the United States. Most of the land to the west in the 1830's was designated as "Unorganized Territory" and "Mexican Possessions."
  • See FAIR:Reviews of DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography:Joseph Smith
  • None

DVD 3-4:37

  •  Author's quote: I went back and looked in Noah Webster's dictionary of the 1850's, when Joseph Smith was around, and when it said "continent," they're not talking about North and South America. OK? There's a North American continent and a South American continent in Noah Webster's dictionary.

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Webster's 1828 dictionary refers to the entire North and South American landmass as a single continent.

DVD 3-4:58

  • Joseph said in the American Revivalist that "The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians."

DVD 3-5:41

  • In the American Revivalist, Joseph stated:

The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians... By it, we learn that our western tribes of Indians, are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them.

  • It is claimed that this letter was "written by commandment from God."
  • The commandment to write the letter was not to confirm a geographical location for the Book of Mormon. According to B.H. Roberts:

The Prophet states subsequently that he wrote this communication by commandment of the Lord. The general condition of the world as noted by the Prophet at the commencement of this chapter, was doubtless the occasion of the Lord sending forth such a note of warning to the inhabitants of the earth as is here presented. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, edited by B.H. Roberts, volume 1 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1972), 312).

  • None

DVD 3-6:22

  • Joseph's mother said that he "would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent…"

DVD 3-8:46

  • Joseph wrote during Zion's Camp that they were "wandering over the plains of the Nephites"

DVD 3-13:11

  • The story of Zelph is claimed to prove that the Northeastern United States was the land of the Nephites.

DVD 3-16:51

  • "Eight different people" are claimed to have said that they saw "wagon loads" of plates in the Hill Cumorah in New York.
  • The question is not whether or not Joseph and the others saw a cave, but where that cave was actually located.
  • The Hill Cumorah in New York is a drumlin, and is not geologically likely to have a cave such as the one described.
  • Archaeology and the Hill Cumorah
  • None

DVD 3-17:26

  • Joseph sent missionaries to the Lamanites.

DVD 3-21:41

  • Missionaries were sent to the "borders of the Lamanites."

DVD 3-30:59

  • In the Bernheizel letter, Joseph states:

"I received your kind present by the hand of Elder Wudruff and feel myself under many obligations for this mark of your esteem and friendship, which to me is the more interesting as it unfolds and develops many things that have great importance to this generation and corresponds with and supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon."

  •  Misrepresentation of source
  • The presenter simply dismisses this statement and claims that Joseph's purpose in writing the letter was to express his friendship with Bernheizel, despite Joseph's praise of a Mesoamerican book and its relationship to the Book of Mormon.
  • See FAIR:Reviews of DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography:Joseph Smith
  • Here is a statement from Joseph Smith that was not included in the presentation:

The stupendous ruins, the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the ruins of Guatamala [Guatemala], and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people-men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their ruins speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormen [Mormon} unfolds their history.-ED. (emphasis added)[1]

  • Page 862 of this issue of the Times and Seasons states: "The Times and Seasons, Is edited, printed and published about the first and fifteenth of every month, on the corner of Water and Bain Streets, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, by JOSEPH SMITH." This statement was signed "ED," which attributes it directly to Joseph Smith.
  • For more detail, see: Joseph Smith's geographical statements about the Book of Mormon.


  1. Joseph Smith (editor), "American Antiquities," Times and Seasons 3 no. 18 (15 July 1842), 860. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)

Heartland (Meldrum) Geography claims