Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Chile, the Unknown Land – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding what was known by Church Leaders about Chile that was not common knowledge in the United States during Joseph Smith’s time. In fact, several Church Leaders in the early days of the Book of Mormon considered the west coast of central Chile, around the 30º South Latitude as Lehi’s landing site. There is a specific reason why this should be of extreme importance to theorists who seek the truth as to where Lehi actually landed, since very little was known about Chile at that time, and prior to the 1890s, almost nothing was known about central Chile, where Lehi is considered by some, to be his landing site. 
To note this, consider George Q. Cannon, whose family was converted in England and crossed the ocean, arriving in Nauvoo in 1843 when he was 16. He worked for the Times & Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor run by his uncle, John Taylor. He was 17 at the time of Joseph Smith’s death. One of his sister’s married John Taylor. Cannon became an early member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, called at the age of 33 in 1860 to replace Parley P. Pratt, and later served from 1873 to 1901 as an assistant Counselor, then First Counselor in the First Presidency under four successive presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow.
    He also served a mission in Hawaii, and helped translate and publish the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian, assisted apostle Parley P. Pratt in publishing a newspaper The Western Standard, in California, became President of the California and Oregon Mission, and assisted in the Utah War as a Lieutenant General in the Nauvoo Legion upon returning home. He was also a printer of the Deseret News while in exile in Fillmore, Utah, and was its managing editor from 1867 to 1874. He served as President of the Eastern States Mission, and also presided over the church’s European Mission.
Recalled to Utah, he was appointed by Brigham Young to work in Washington D.C. to assist in the church’s promotion of Utah territory’s bid for statehood, returned to preside over the European Mission and published the Millennial Star and the Church’s Welsh-language periodical, Udgorn Seion (Zions Trumpet). In 1866, Cannon began publication of a magazine for youth and young adult Latter-day Saints called The Juvenile Instructor, owning and publishing this magazine until his death. He was the first general superintendent of the Church’s Sunday School from 1867 until his death, during which time he sold the magazine to the Sunday School organization and it became the official organ until 1930, when it was replaced with The Instructor. In addition, he was the church's chief political strategist, and was called "the Mormon premier" and "the Mormon Richelieu" by the press.
George Q. Cannon in 1888 wrote of this climate in The Life of Nephi, the Son of Lehi (The Contributor Company, Salt Lake City, UT) “The Prophet Joseph, in speaking of their place of landing, said, it was on the coast of the country now known as Chili—a country which possesses a genial, temperate and healthy climate.” It is interesting that in the early 1840s, when Cannon would have heard this, that Joseph knew about the climate of central Chili, when that information was unknown in New England, and about a climate that was not defined until well into the 20th century. In fact, the connection between the U.S. and Chile was not even established until the early 1800s, and except for some contact in Washington, D.C., and a “special agent” from South Carolina sent there, contact was basically non-existent. Yet, Joseph Smith evidently knew things about the country, at least around La Serena and Coquimbo that other Americans did not know.
    In addition, Cannon in his book, goes on to claim that Joseph Smith said of the Nephites after landing: “They immediately turned their attention to agriculture. They prepared the ground and put in all the seeds which they had brought with them from the land of Jerusalem. They found the soil admirably adapted for agriculture. Their seeds grew finely and yielded good crops, and they were blessed with abundance” (The Life of Nephi, the Son of Lehi, The Contributor Company, Salt Lake City, UT 1888, Ch XIV, pp93-94; full title: The Life of Nephi, the Son of Lehi, who emigrated from Jerusalem, in Judea, to the land which is now known as South America, about six centuries before the coming of our Savior; Juvenile Instructor Press).
    Now, setting the stage of the acumen of George Q. Cannon, and his numerous position in the early Church, let us turn to a book he wrote and published in 1888, which content also appeared in The Juvenile Instructor. This book contained a claimed quote from Joseph Smith, which would have occurred sometime between his first meeting with Joseph Smith in 1843, when he first arrived in Nauvoo, and 1844, when the prophet was killed.
    On page 94, Cannon wrote: "The Prophet Joseph, in speaking of their place of landing, said, ‘It was on the coast of the country now known as Chile — a country which possesses a genial, temperate and healthy climate’.”
    The quote from Joseph Smith, which was inserted in a footnote on page 94, reads: “They traveled nearly a south, southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of north latitude; then, nearly east to the sea of Arabia, then sailed in a southeast direction, and landed on the continent of South America, in Chile, thirty degrees south latitude.”
    Cannon goes on to quote: “They immediately turned their attention to agriculture. They prepared the ground and put in all the seeds which they had brought with them from the land of Jerusalem. They found the soil admirably adapted for agriculture. Their seeds grew finely and yielded good crops, and they were blessed with abundance. We find no mention made of any seeds being planted by them at any point from the time of their departure from Jerusalem until they reached the promised land. If while encamped in the valley of Lemuel or at Bountiful they cultivated the earth and raised provisions or seeds, we are not informed of it, though doubtless both places were suitable for that purpose."
    Now considering the fact that this information was unknown in America in 1844 and much later, certainly not before the 1890s, when Chile was belligerent to the United States and worked diligently to keep American influence out of the southern Pacific and coastal South America, and Peru seized all American shipping in the Pacific and Colombia signed a treaty with the U.S. to keep them out of Colombia and Panama, we might find this information extremely significant.
    Where on earth did George Q. Cannon come up with this information were it not for receiving it from Joseph Smith, and where did Joseph Smith come by this information, which was unknown to him—in fact, in 1841, Joseph was astonished to learn of the ruins and facts involved in Guatemala, which he read in the book, Incidents in Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, by John L. Stephens, which he received as a gift from John Bernhisel, a bishop in New York City, via Wilford Woodruff.
    In addition, Elder James E. Talmadge of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said of Lehi, “Eventually they reached the shores of the Arabian sea, where, divinely directed, they built a vessel, in which they were carried by the wind and current across the ocean to the western coast of South America” (James E. Talmadge, The Vitality of Mormonism: Brief Essays on Distinctive Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gorham Press, Boston, 1919, pp133-134);
    Also, two influential Apostles of the Church, Elder Orson Pratt and Elder Franklin D. Richards, both of which knew Joseph Smith personally, taught that the Prophet received a revelation that Nephi’s ship landed at 30 degrees south latitude on the western shores of South America (B. H. Roberts, “New Witnesses for God,” vol 3, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, 1909, p501);
    In his History of the Church in Peru, Dale Christensen, former mission president 1984-1987, quotes from General Authorities “On October 29, 1959, a conference was held with some 300 people in attendance in Santiago, Chile. In the morning session of the Conference Elder Harold B. Lee of the Council of the Twelve Apostles gave a stirring address,” regarding where Lehi landed, he said, “from the writings of the prophet Joseph Smith and of other inspired men, it seems that all are in agreement that the followers of Lehi came to the western shores of South America” (Dale H. Christensen, History of the Church in Peru, Peru Lima South Mission, 1995, pp53-54 (
    As we have also reported in this blog many times, Frederick G. Williams, Joseph’s personal physician, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, personal scribe and friend, understood that Lehi landed at 30º South Latitude in Chile, also using Joseph Smith’s quote about the travel direction of Lehi and his party. In addition, President John Taylor (Times and Seasons, volume 3, September 15, 1842, pp921-922); Apostle Orson Pratt taught that Lehi landed on the western coast of South America (Orson Pratt, An Interesting account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient Records, Ballantyne and Hughes, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1840).
    Thus, despite hardly any details of the country of Chile being known in the U.S. during Joseph Smith’s time, both he and several Apostles and Church Leaders seemed to understand the climate and conditions surrounding the 30º South Latitude, i.e., the area of the Bay of Coquimbo and the settlement city of La Serena sufficiently to show that it matched perfectly with Nephi’s writing in 1 Nephi 18:14-25 regarding Lehis’ landing site. Some of that time he knew Joseph well claimed it was a revelation from the Lord. The information it contains certainly bears the fruit of one.

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