Obtaining the Plates


From Joseph Smith’s Own Account
I obeyed (JS—H 1:50).

Over three years after the First Vision, on the evening of September 21, 1823, Joseph Smith was praying when a glorious being, Moroni, appeared to him. Moroni told him about a book written upon gold plates and showed him in a vision where the book was buried. He said that one day Joseph would be given the records to translate. The angel also gave Joseph commandments and taught him about the restoration of the gospel. Three times that night, Moroni appeared to repeat his message. By the time the third visit was over, it was nearly daybreak.

I shortly after arose from my bed, and, as usual, went to the necessary labors of the day; but … I found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable. My father, who was laboring along with me, discovered something to be wrong with me, and told me to go home. I started with the intention of going to the house; but, in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me, and I fell helpless on the ground. …

The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me, calling me by name. I looked up, and beheld the same messenger standing over my head. … He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received.

I obeyed. … [My father] told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger. I left the field, and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited. …

Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill. … On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. … The middle part of [the stone] was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth.

Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever … and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. …

I made an attempt to take [the plates] out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time: but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.

Accordingly … I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days. …

At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected.

(JS—H 1:48–54, 59.)

[illustration] Illustrated by Paul Mann