Theodore Turley Challenges John Whitmer's Testimony of the Golden Plates
John Whitmer reaffirms that he handled the golden plates, despite being associated with an anti-Mormon mob.
Excerpt from "History of the Church, Vol.3"
On the fifth day of April 1839, a company of about fifty men in Daviess county swore that they would never eat or drink, until they had murdered "Joe Smith." Their captain, William Bowman, swore, in the presence of Theodore Turley, that he would "never eat or drink, after he had seen Joe Smith, until he had murdered him." This was the attitude of the men in Daviess and Caldwell Counties.
At this same time Captain Bogart, who was the county judge, a priest, and eight other men, one of them being John Whitmer, came to the room of the committee on removal where they found Theodore Turley. Bogart presented the revelation of July 8, 1838 (Doctrine & Covenants Sec. 118) in which the apostles were directed to leave the saints in Far West on the building site of the Lord's House on the 26th of April 1839, and with a sneer and a vulgar laugh, asked Elder Turley to read it.
Elder Turley said, "Gentlemen, I am well acquainted with it."
They said, "Then you, as a rational man, will have to give up Joseph Smith's being a prophet and an inspired man. He and the twelve are now scattered all over creation; let them come here if they dare; if they do, they will be murdered. As that revelation cannot be fulfilled, you will now give up your faith."
Turley jumped up and said: "In the name of God that revelation will be fulfilled!"
They laughed him to scorn. John Whitmer hung down his head. The Bogart group said, "If they (the apostles) come, they will get murdered; they dare not come to take their leave here; that is like all the rest of Joe Smith's damn prophecies." They then attempted to persuade Elder Turley to do what John Corrill had done, and they said: "He (Corrill) is going to publish a book called 'Mormonism Fairly Delineated!' he is a sensible man, and you had better assist him."
Elder Turley replied: "Gentlemen, I presume there are men here who have heard John Corrill say that 'Mormonism' was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and inspired of God. I now call upon you, John Whitmer. You say Corrill is a moral and a good man; do you believe him when he says the Book of Mormon is true, or when he says it is not true? There are many things published that they say are true, and again turn around and say they are false?"
Whitmer, asked, "Do you hint at me?"
Elder Turley said, "If the cap fits you, wear it; all I know is that you have published to the world that an angel did present those plates to Joseph Smith."
Whitmer replied to this: "I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. I handled them." Then he described in the presence of these bitter enemies how the plates were fastened and he said, "they were shown to me by a supernatural power."
After making this statement, Elder Turley asked, "Why is not the translation now true?"
Whitmer answered, "I could not read it (the writing on the plates) and I do not know whether it (the translation) is true or not." Whitmer testified all this in the presence of eight men. This testimony may have been surprising to John Whitmer's companions, but not enough to make any deep impression. They had hailed him, as they did others who had turned away from the Church, as being "brave" and "sensible." Down in their hearts, however, we may wonder if they did not really despise him.
Read how Joseph Smith's prophecy they spoke of was indeed fulfilled.
History of the Church, Vol.3, Ch.21, p.307
Historical Record, p. 458