Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The United States as the Land of Promise –Part I

There are many theorists who have settled on the United States—and only the United States—as being the Land of Promise, and many others who have accepted their views, but all it seems with an ignorance to the meanings of the scriptural record as we have pointed out on these pages many times. It is sometimes surprising how many of these send us comments, letters, questions and occasionally downright antagonistic remarks about how the United States has to be the Land of Promise and that we are uninformed of the many promises made that relate only to the U.S. 
    They claim that no other area could possibly be the Land of Promise according to all that has been said and written by Joseph Smith and early and current Church leaders. It is as though these people turn a blind eye to both history and the scriptural record in order to maintain their staunch belief in the United States as the Land of Promise, leaning almost entirely on the U.S. as the land of liberty, freedom, and the city with the shining light on the hill mentioned in scripture. All in all, they use numerous modern-day comments to support their beliefs, such as the Economic History of the U.S., including its prosperity of wealth, agriculture, and protection and peace, along with the many freedoms this country has, etc.
    One theorist went so far as to have written that not one square inch of land in Canada is part of the Land of Promise, not realizing, I suppose that in 1823 when Moroni talked to Joseph Smith about “this land” that the United States at the time in their Oregon Territory owned about one-half of what is today the Province of British Colombia and a small portion of the Province of Alberta. At the same time, Canada owned about one-third of the northern part of the State of Maine, and a goodly portion of Montana and a small amount of North Dakota.
In 1820, the United States had only 23 states and five territories, with all of the U.S. southwest owned by Spain
    In fact in 1823 when Moroni visited Joseph Smith, the United States did not own, even as a territory, what is now the states of Utah, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, half of Colorado, a small part of Wyoming and Kansas, and all of Texas, which were Spanish possessions. Yet, today, the 12 western states that has just over 3 million members of the Church, most were not even a part of the U.S. in 1823. Utah with its 2,000,554 members today was owned by Spain, as was California with its 778,629 current members. Today, there are nearly three times as many members in these western states as there are in the rest of the country combined.
According to Mark E. Petersen in conference, Moroni and Mormon were historians of the people who formerly inhabited this land that Moroni described during his visit to Joseph
Smith (JS-History 1:27-53)
    When Joseph Smith had his first vision, there were only 23 states in the Union, and by September 1, 1823, when Moroni appeared to him, the United States then consisted of only 25 States and 5 territories. It should also be noted that due to an Act of Congress, the term “United States” when used in a geographical sense (“this land”) means “The continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands of the United States” (State Department Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 7-Consular Affairs). Also, by Executive Order 13423, sec 9 (l), “The 'United States' when used in a geographical sense, means the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and associated territorial waters and airspace.” U.S. State Department, Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty Chart, under “Sovereignty”, lists five places under United States sovereignty administered by a local ‘Administrative Center’, with ‘Short form names’, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, U.S.
    The states that existed when Moroni visited Joseph Smith were: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, all havingratified the Constitution by 1790; then came Vermont (1791), Kentucky (1792), Tennessee (1796), Ohio (1803), Louisiana (1812), Indiana (1816), Mississippi (1817), Illinois (1818), Alabama (1819), Maine (1820), Missouri (1821)
The United States and its Continental Territories in 1823 when Moroni visited Joseph Smith
    Also, at the time of Moroni’s visit and instruction to Joseph, Florida was only a territory, as was Arkansas Territory, including Oklahoma; Michigan Territory, including Wisconsin; the states of Montana, Wyoming, Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Minnesota as part of the Missouri Territory; and Oregon, including Washington, Idaho, parts of Montana and Wyoming, and about half of British Colombia, the latter not being relinquished to Canada until 1846. In fact, large portions of the Louisiana Purchase, Oregon Territory and Missouri Territories were unorganized, meaning without organized government or even any token government, referred to as “transient control.”
    In addition, in 1823, Hawaii was an independent country, owing allegiance to no one; Alaska was owned by Russia; Puerto Rico and Guam were part of Spain; the Northern Marianas were owned by Germany; the Virgin Islands were owned by Denmark; American Samoa was owned by Germany; and Swain’s Island (also known as Olosenga Island, Olohega Island, Quiros Island, Gente Hermosa Island, and Jennings Island) was owned, or at least claimed, by Britain. Besides these populated areas, which include several million U.S. citizens, the U.S. owns territories of Palmyra Atoll; Baker Island; Howland Island; Jarvin Island; Johnston Atoll; Kingman Reef; Wake Island; Midway Islands; Navassa Island; Serranilla Bank; Bajo Nuevo Bank (also claimed by Colombia); And what about the Phillipines that was once a territory and now independent, as is also Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau.
    The point of all this is simply that there are two United States regarding the Land of Promise. If one is going to claim the U.S. as the Land of Promise, then they have to choose between: 1) The United States as it was in 1823; or 2) The United States as it became (i.e., as it is now). Either way, it cannot be an isolated Land of Promise as these theorists claim. In 1823, the U.S. did not even own where the Church headquarters are now located and what is now the vast majority of members within the United States. 
    If it is the U.S. of today, then there are parts of the Land of Promise scattered around the world, and much of that was not protected or held in abeyance from the knowledge of people as claimed in Ether 13:2).
It should also be noted that regarding both Lehi and Nephi’s visions of Columbus’ discovery of the Land of Promise and the Spanish Conquest of the Land of Promise, etc., at no time did Columbus set foot or even see what is now the United States, but landed in the Caribbean and Central and South America. The Spanish conquest did not take place in the general area of the United States, but in southern Mexico, Central and South America.
    So how is it that these theorists claim the United States was the sole location of the Land of Promise?
(See the next post, “The United States as the Land of Promise –Part II,” for more on the role of the U.S. in the Land of Promise, and specifically the meaning of Moroni’s ‘on this continent” statement)

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