Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel 1886 – Lehi’s Landing – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the original Franklin D. Richards Compendium reference book of Church doctrinal facts in which he quotes Frederick G. Williams comment about Lehi landing at 30º South Latitude.
 Now, another note also on page 54, states: “Orson Pratt held that view (of Lehi landing in South America). In his Remarkable Visions, the first edition of which we understand, was published in 1840, consequently some time before the martyrdom of the Prophet, he says that Lehi landed upon the western coast of South America,’ and in 1874, when he was Church Historian, in an article written for an encyclopedia, Pratt expressed the same thought more fully, stating that the landing took place, ‘as is believed, not far from the 30th degree south latitude.’ The expression, ‘as is believed,’ we take to mean that Orson Pratt did not advance a theory of his own on the question, but stated what was held to be true among his associates, or some of them, as well as by himself.” 
    Now, whether or not the above information was recorded as an opinion rather than a revelation, is not known, however, a greater statement by Pratt was given two years earlier in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Sunday Afternoon, February 11, 1872, and reported by David W. Evans in the Journal of Discourses under the title: “Nephite America—The Day of God's Power—The Shepherd of Israel,” in which he opened his remarks by saying: “It is quite unexpected to me to be called upon this afternoon to address this congregation; but inasmuch as I have been solicited so to do I cheerfully comply with the request. It has also been suggested that there would be several strangers present this afternoon who would desire to hear some of the evidences in relation to the Book of Mormon, and although it is a subject on which we have spoken during the week just passed.” 
    He then goes on to discuss the Book of Mormon, beginning with Lehi’s travels, saying: “from the Lord they traveled southwest from the city of Jerusalem, and after reaching the Red Sea they continued along its eastern borders and afterwards bent their course eastward, arriving at the Indian Ocean. There they were commanded by the Almighty to build a vessel, the pattern of which was given to them by revelation, building it as Noah built the Ark—under the direction of the Almighty. On board this vessel they embarked, and were guided by the Almighty across the great Indian Ocean…they came round our globe, crossing not only the Indian Ocean, but what we term the great Pacific Ocean, landing on the western coast of what is now called South America. As near as we can judge from the description of the country contained in this record the first landing place was in Chile, not far from where the city of Valparaiso now stands.”
Valparaiso, the coastal city nearest the Chilean capitol of Santiago, was relatively well known in the eastern United States by 1872, and was the furthest north ships rounding the Cape on their way to Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan sailed before turning westward across the Pacific to pick up the northern rim of the South Pacific Gyre 

For explanation, Valparaiso (33.03º south) is 200 miles south of the 30º south latitude, and in 1872, Valparaiso (29.9º south)—on the coast—and near the capitol of Santiago, Chile—just inland—was known in the eastern U.S., though the Bay of Coquimbo and La Serena had not yet been publicized in the States at that time. Pratt then recounts the separation of the Nephites and Lamanites, and the former group moving away, saying: “Being so severely persecuted by the Lamanites, the Nephites were commanded of the Lord to depart from their midst, that is to leave the first place of colonization in the country which the Spanish now call Chile. They came northward from their first landing place traveling, according to the record, as near as I can judge, some two thousand miles. The Lamanites remained in possession of the country on the South. The Nephites formed a colony not far from the head waters of the river Amazon, and they dwelt there some four centuries, increasing and spreading forth in the land. The Lamanites, in the South and in the middle portions of South America, also spread forth and multiplied, and became a very strong and powerful nation.
    Now, two years after the 1840 disclosure of Lehi sailing down to the Southern Ocean and across to Chile, a contrary view was expressed in the Times and Seasons, September 15, 1842, nor is it certain who wrote this second article, though it was written while the prophet was still alive and reading each Church publication rather carefully it might be assumed. This second article states: “…Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien, and improved the country…”
    The Compendium article concludes with: “It should be noted that this statement ‘a little south of the Isthmus of Darien’ would put the landing somewhere in Columbia or Equador (sic), but a considerable distance from Coquimbo, Chile, 30 degrees south latitude.
Top: The area of Panama, once called Darien, now the term “Darien” refers to that area of Panama that joins Colombia and the mainland of South America called the Darien Gap; Bottom: As can be seen, this area referred to as the Darien Gap is a heavy jungle—no one lives or works here and not even the 18,650 mile long Pan American Highway, which runs continuously from Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America to Alaska crosses this 100-mile long Gap 

Now, of this latter thought, it should also be noted that the Isthmus of Darien (the entire country of Panama) is not today referred to as the Darien Gap, but rather this is a narrow area in the country of Panama, and involves that part of land connecting Panama with Colombia in South America—more specifically, that area of Panama just to the north of the South American continent, lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. This area is almost impassable, and inaccessible, having defeated travelers for centuries, and uncrossed by man through the interior in any fashion—even today with off-road four wheelers except for one well-funded and well-equipped effort by vehicle in a Land Rover, dubbed the Affectionate Cockroach and a Jeep, which took nearly five months, averaging just 656 feet per hour (that is barely over two football fields long).
Trying to get through the Darien Gap in a 4-wheel off-road vehicle—it was slow, averaging less than ¼ of a mile per hour for five months to cover 100 miles 

In the past, major settlements of the Spanish, Dutch, and Scottish all failed to open up or travel through this area, let along settlement of any type. To think that Nephites, including women and children traveled on foot north and south through this uninhabitable and inhospitable undeveloped swampland jungle between where they landed and Central America is without merit of any kind since the only way around the Gap is by sea—not through it.
    Thus, we are left with the comment, written by Frederick G. Williams, that Lehi landed 30º South Latitude, in the area now known as Coquimbo Bay and La Serena, Chile.
By the way, as an afterthought, the time capsule was recovered on August 13, 1993. Unfortunately, the papers inside were damaged by moisture and condensation inside the foundation stone over the 136-year period, as was the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, placed by the Prophet Joseph in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House hotel in 1841, when the cornerstone was opened in the 1870s by Emma Smith's second husband. Moisture had damaged much of the manuscript, causing the Church today to store artifacts, publications and other mementos in cornerstone boxes for modern-day temples in airtight and watertight stainless steel boxes. In the church's early days, the actual hollowed-out stones themselves were used.
    However, the point of all of this should be that in the 1830s Joseph Smith and/or Frederick G. Williams wrote on a paper that Lehi landed at the 30º South Latitude on the western shores of Chile. Because this area just so happens to contain all the criteria and descriptive nature of Nephi's findings in 1 Nephi 18:23-25 upon landing, one can only wonder how these men in frontier Illinois decided upon that particular spot which also happens to be one of very few landing sites in all of western South America, unknown in New England at the time, and having one of only two Mediterranean Climates where the seeds brought from Jerusalem would have grown in 600 B.C.  Such unbelievable coincidences would never make anyone's truth list, yet they did write this down in 1830s though no one in Illinois at the time had ever been to Western South America.


  1. Fantastic information. Thank you.

    ( I feel bad for those vehicles....took brutal beating. Wow.)

  2. Can you imagine averaging 1/4 of a mile an hour for 5 months? It is easy to see why this has not been repeated. Nor can I imagine (Nephite) women and children walking through this area as some theorists claim.