Saturday, August 25, 2012

30º South Latitude – The Veracity of Frederick G. Williams – Part II

Continuing with the written note from Frederick G. Williams during a First Presidency Meeting with Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon between 1832 and 1837, we still have to consider what on earth would have prompted these men in the 1830s to claim Lehi sailed south of Australia, across the Pacific and up the West Coast of Chile to land at 30º South Latitude.

A direct course, east across the Indian Ocean, through Indonesia, through the islands of the South Pacific, and to South America would have made the most sense from looking at a map

Not only would no one in their right mind in the 1830s even have considered such a course for a sailing ship, but once again, looking at a map, the natural choice of direction from the Arabian coast would have been to follow the coast of Arabia eastward. Then, once past India, through Indonesia, and out into the South Pacific islands of Micronesia, into Polynesia, and then across to the West Coast of South America. After all, the provisions and water could have been replenished many times along the way.

A unknown course: southeast down the Indian Ocean toward Australia, south of New Zealand, across the Pacific in what would have been considered the Antartic Ocean at the time, then north along South America coast

To take a ship south in the Indian Ocean toward Australia, then south of New Zealand, and across what would have been considered the frigid Antarctica Ocean would have been worse than foolhardy—under the knowledge known in the 1830s, it would have been impossible. No one in all of history had ever sailed in that direction, there were no islands with which to replenish food and water, and the climate would be expected to be extremely cold.

In the 1830s, Americans would have known anything about the Southern Ocean, the West Wind Drift, or the Prevailing Westerlies that make up the circumpolar current that circles the globe

No one in New England could have been expected to know that the 30º South Latitude is not only an ideal landing spot—one of the only ones along the entire Chilean coast—but also perfect to meet numerous requirements of the Land of Promise.

In a 1988 paper entitled Did Lehi Land in Chile? Frederick G. Williams, a great grandson of the former Williams, tried to piece together his great grandfather’s reasoning on the matter. He speculates that since Chile is thirty degrees south latitude and Jerusalem is at approximately thirty degrees north latitude, both sites would have had a similar climate and may be why that destination was chosen. Therefore, Those in discussion on the matter evidently settled on Chile. Thus, a destination was produced which caught hold and lasted for generations.

It cannot be ignored that Frederick G. Williams III, wrote about something he could not have possible known anything about, having lived some 100 years after his great grandfather. But more importantly, in 1988, knowledge of South America, ocean currents, and specifically the climate that existed in Coquimbo Bay and La Serena (30º South Latitude along the Chilean coast), was not only well known, but well documented—that was about five years after I first began studying Coquimbo and La Serena as a possible landing site.

Perhaps more importantly, no one in 1830s could have guessed that the climates would have been the same, or even in 1988, unless they were knowledgeable of the unique climate called the “Mediterranean Climate,” that exists not only in Jerusalem, but in only five locations in the world outside the Mediterranean Sea–one being the 30º south Latitude along the Chilean coast. This is critically important, since seeds in 600 B.C. would only grow in like climates from which they were first developed—the Mediterranean Climate of Jerusalem, and as Nephi said they  began: “to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24).

In addition, numerous other unique situations and conditions exist at this spot and along this South American coast that is found nowhere else, that match descriptions, animals, grains, precious ores, and other facts found almost nowhere else in the entire Western Hemisphere, such as:

1. Two unique animals as useful to man as the elephant (cumoms and cureloms in Ether 9:19)—the llama and alpaca of the Andes;
2. Two unique grains on a par with wheat, corn and barley (sheum and neas in Mosiah 9:9)—the quinoa and kiwichi of the Andes;
3. Where gold, silver and copper are abundant, and found in single ore (both gold and silver and copper  in 1 Nephi 18:25)—found in numerous mines and locations in Chile and Peru;
4. Plants that are natural cures for fever (Alma 46:40)—cinchona tree of the Andes, the only natural producer of quinine found in the world, and indigenous only to the Andes.

Currents leaving the Arabian shore flow south, pickup the North Equatorial Current and the Indian Ocean Gyre which curve southeast and flow into the Prevailing Westerlies and the West Wind Drift heading east around the globe

Interestingly enough, no one knew in the 1830s that the currents leaving the Arabian shore would take a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” along a southern and then southeastern course through the Indian Ocean along the South Indian Ocean Gyre, and down to the Southern Ocean where the Prevailing Westerlies and West Wind Drift would take a sailing vessel across the South Pacific/Southern Ocean toward the Drake Passage, and then up along the West Coast of South America on the Humboldt Current (named after Alexander von Humboldt and unknown in America or Europe until after he wrote his book Kosmos in 1845 when he was 76 years old). 

In addition, no one knew in the 1830s that the northern part of the West Wind Drift was warm water because of the mixture of the South Pacific waters moving southward due to the Coriolis Effect. And no one knew in the 1830s, that the Prevailing Westerlies of the Southern Ocean blew constantly in what later became known as the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties—currents and winds that drove sailing ships on a fast track across the ocean to South America—today these winds and currents are used for international sailing races.

None of this was known in the 1830s in the United States. So how is it that Frederick G. Williams wrote down the 30º South Latitude? What would have prompted him to write: “then sailed in a south east direction” when such a course would have been unknown, away from land, out into the deep ocean? What did Frederick G. Williams know that no one else knew for nearly a half century later about this sailing course?

Or should the question be: “What did Joseph Smith know that no one else knew for nearly a half century later about this sailing course?”

It was Orson Pratt who later said, “As near as we can judge from the description of the country contained in this record (Book of Mormon) the first landing place was in Chile, not far from where the city of Valparaiso now stands.”

These ideas could not have been mere conjecture, map reading, or guessing, since such a course flew against all reason and sailing knowledge of the time! Today, however, we know it is the only course for a deep water sailing vessel to have reached the Western Hemisphere from the Arabian shore.


  1. Don't stop! I really appreciate the daily teaching! Thank you.

  2. Glad to hear from you. And thanks for your encouragement. I enjoy the Book of Mormon and everything about it.

  3. Del,

    I wait for the day that you are vindicated and proven correct. I look forward to the time when all the Saints come to the knowledge that the promised land for the Jaredites, Mulekites, and the Nephites was located in South America.. not North America, and not in MesoAmerica. I too love the Book of Mormon because it is a book of truth. And to add to the truth of its true location, seems only fitting.

  4. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Lord does not want this information in the mainstream--it would probably bring attack after attack on the Church from the media and ignorant people. On the other hand, we belong to a small cadre of people who know the truth....