Newspaper report of a public discourse by Martin Harris, who is reported to have publicly reaffirmed his testimony in the Book of Mormon.

Aug 28, 1870
News (traditional)
Iowa State Register
Scribed Summary

"A Witness to the Book of Mormon," Daily Iowa State Register, August 28, 1870, [4]

Iowa State Register
Iowa State Register, Martin Harris, Joseph Smith, Jr.
Reading Public

A WITNESS TO THE BOOK OF MORMON.—The main facts, or the fiction, as the case may be, relative to the discovery of the golden plates from which was translated the present Book of Mormon, are doubtless as familiar to many of our readers as to ourselves. None of us can claim to have been eye witnesses, and few have heard the incidents connected therewith related by those who do claim to have been there, to have seen and handled the tablets of gold, and afterwards, under Divine commission, to have assisted in the translation of the mystic characters inscribed upon them.

A few days since we acknowledged a call at our sanctum, from Martin Harris, who was on his way from Ohio to take up his residence at Salt Lake City, to spend the remainder of his days with the "chosen people." Mr. Harris is now in his 88th year, though still quite vigorous and sprightly, and he is a Mormon, soul and body. He, as he claims, and as Mormons claim, together with two others, Oliver Cowdery, desceased, and David Whitmore, now an apostate, living in Missouri, were the divinely appointed witnesses to the Book of Mormon. The old gentleman evidently loves to relate the incidents with which he was personally connected, and he does it with wonderful enthusiasm.

In September, 1828, as the story goes, Joseph Smith, directed by an angel, proceeded to a spot, about four miles from Palmyra, New York, and upon the point of a hill, extending northward, dug up a very solid stone chest, within which were the tablets of gold, inscribed with characters which no man could read. Joseph Smith was the first to handle the tables, and Martin Harris, one of the appointed witnesses, the second. Mr. Harris describes the plates as being thin leaves of gold, measuring seven by eight inches, and weighing altogether, from forty to sixty points. There was also found in the chest, the urim and thummim, by means of which the writing on the plates was translated, but not until after the most learned men had exhausted their knowledge of the letters in the vain effort to decipher the characters.

It had been revealed to Joseph Smith that the writings upon the tablets contained a history of the aborigines of this country down to the time of Columbus' discovery, and after, all human means had failed to secure a translation, Smith was commissioned to undertake the task. By means of the urim and thummim, a pair of large spectacles," as Mr. Harris termed them, the translation was made, and Mr. Harris claims to have written, of the translations as they were given by Smith, "116 solid pages of cap." The remainder was written by others.

Soon after the finding of these plates of gold, Mr. Harris sold his farm, of which he owned a large one, and consecrated himself to the new religion, to which he has advanced tenaciously throughout a long life, and still adheres to its tenets and advocates it genuineness with all the earnestness of an enthusiast. He believes in the visitations of angels in bodily form, for he has seen and conversed with them, as he thinks, and is satisfied.

The old gentleman related some incidents, which, could one feel that they were verities, would be interesting; but as they seem largely imaginative they lose interest.

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
Copyright © B. H. Roberts Foundation
The B. H. Roberts Foundation is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.