Discovery of an Ancient Record in America


Millennial Star Pratt, Parley P. (Parley Parker), 1807-1857

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Pratt, Parley P. “Discovery of an Ancient Record in America.” Latter-day Saints Millennial

Star (Manchester, England) 1, no. 2 (June 1840): 30–37.



According to promise in our prospectus, we shall now proceed to give some information of this important discovery.

Mr. Joseph Smith, jun., a resident of Ontario County, state of New York, North America, was, at the age of about 17 years, visited by a Holy Angel, who informed him that the ancient inhabitants of that continent had written a sacred record of their history, and of the dealings of God with them; and that, being overthrown and destroyed in a terrible war, they had, by the commandment of the Lord, deposited a copy of their records, where they had been preserved for ages; and that the time was now about fulfilled for them to be made known to Gentile and Jew, preparatory to the great restitution of Israel.

The Angel told him where these records were, and when and how he should obtain them.

Accordingly, on the 22nd day of September, 1827, Mr. Smith went to a certain hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, and there, according to the direction of the Angel, he found the record in the earth, where it had lain for about 1400 years, being deposited there about A. D. 420. The record consisted of a large volume, in the Egyptian language, engraven on plates of gold. The plates were each about 7 by 8 inches in width and length, being about the thickness of common tin. These were filled with engravings on both sides, and a volume of them were bound together like the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness. With this record was found a large breastplate, apparently of copper, such as had been worn for defence; and also a curious instrument, called by the ancients the Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones, clear as chrystal, set in the rims of a bow of silver. This was in use, in ancient times, by persons called seers; it was an instrument by the use of which they received revelation of things distant, or of things past or future. By this means, and by the gift of the Almighty, Mr. Smith was enabled to translate the record into the English language, and it was first printed and published in 1830. From that time to the present it has excited much interest in America. Tens of thousands have come to the knowledge of its truth, by angels, by visions, by revelations, by the Holy Ghost, and by the power of God made manifest wherever it is taught and received. Many of these have sealed their testimony with their blood, and thousands more have already suffered for their testimony more than to die, and would not deny its truth if they were now to be burned at [30] the stake. This record contains a sketch of the history of two nations or colonies, who peopled America in early times. The first was a colony who came from the Tower of Babel at the time the language was confounded. The second was a colony from Jerusalem, in the days of Jeremiah the prophet, being about 600 years before Christ. These were Israelites, mostly of the tribe of Joseph.

The present American Indians are their descendants, but the principal nation of them were destroyed in the fourth century of the Christian era, soon after which their records were deposited by their last prophet, whose name was Moroni; there they have lain concealed until brought to light, in 1827, as before described.

From these records we learn, that the remnant of Israel who dwelt in America had a knowledge of the law of Moses and the Jewish prophecies, a copy of which they brought with them when they first emigrated from Jerusalem. They also had prophets among them from age to age, and the ministering of angels; and by this means they had a knowledge of the truth, and were acquainted with the coming of Messiah. They knew of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection. They saw the rocks rend, the earth shake, and the heavens veiled in darkness, while Jesus was crucified; and they knew that these things were a sign of his death, for their prophets had foretold these things as a sign of that event.

But the most glorious and important fact contained in the record is, that Christ visited America after his resurrection, and ministered the Gospel in person to that remnant of Israel, in fulfilment of the words which he spake, as recorded in John’s Gospel, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear MY VOICE , and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd.”

We shall here extract from this ancient record an account of his personal appearing and ministry to that branch of his chosen Israel, commencing at page 502:—. . .

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