140 years ago today - Aug 1, 1880

... my aunt became acquainted with David Whitmer, who lived there; and wishing to be edified by the account of a reliable eye-witness concerning the appearance and peculiarities of the wonderful plates, she took early opportunity to converse with him on the subject, when, to her amazement, the veracious Whitmer assured her that he never had seen them. "Suppose," said he, "that you had a friend whose character was such that you knew it impossible that he could lie; then if he described a city to you which you had never seen, could you not, by the eye of faith, see the city just as he described it?" She answered that, however that might be, the certificate attached to the Mormon Bible had given rise to the belief that the three witnesses had actually seen and handled the book of plates. Thereupon he went on to relate the bottom facts, which formed the basis of his faith, to this effect: That he went into the woods after some maple sap, and having filled two large pails, he set out to return home. The pails of sap were so heavy that he was obliged to stop and rest at short intervals, and the sharp roots and stubs hurt his bare feet so badly that he had great difficulty in getting along at all. So sitting alone in the woods, he fell to thinking of Smith and of the plates he claimed to have found, and finally, to ease his doubts, he knelt and prayed that if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and the plates a genuine revelation from God, that the sap might be made lighter as a token thereof. The prayer being ended, he arose, and lifted the sap, which now had apparently no weight whatever, and he went the remaining distance--I think a half mile--without setting it down once, getting over the ground easier than if empty-handed. Whether Cowdery and Harris had such convincing proof, I do not know. ...

[E. S. Gilbert to Ellen E. Dickinson, 1 August 1880, in Ellen E. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1885), 261-62., as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents: E. S. Gilbert To Ellen E. Dickinson]

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