The angel Moroni showed the gold plates to Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris in the woods near the Whitmer home in Fayette, New York. Joseph’s parents were visiting the Whitmers at the time. Lucy Mack Smith (1775-1856), Joseph’s mother, described the effect this miraculous experience had on the witnesses:

Visitation of the Three Witnesses[]

“It was between three and four o’clock. Mrs. Whitmer and Mr. Smith and myself were sitting in a bedroom. I sat on the bedside. When Joseph came in, he threw himself down beside me. ‘Father! Mother!’ said he. ‘You do not know how happy I am. The Lord has caused the plates to be shown to three more besides me, who have also seen an angel and will have to testify to the truth of what I have said. For they know for themselves that I do not go about to deceive the people. And I do feel as though I was relieved of a dreadful burden, which was almost too much for me to endure. But they will now have to bear a part, and it does rejoice my soul that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.’ Martin Harris then came in. He seemed almost overcome with excess of joy. He then testified to what he had seen and heard, as did also the others, Oliver and David. Their testimony was the same in substance as that contained in the Book of Mormon. …

“Martin Harris particularly seemed altogether unable to give vent to his feelings in words. He said, ‘I have now seen an angel from Heaven who has of a surety testified of the truth of all that I have heard concerning the record, and my eyes have beheld him. I have also looked upon the plates and handled them with my hands and can testify of the same to the whole world. But I have received for myself a witness that words cannot express, that no tongue can describe, and I bless God in the sincerity of my soul that he has condescended to make me, even me, a witness of the greatness of his work and designs in behalf [of] the children of men.’ Oliver and David also joined with him in solemn praises to God for his goodness and mercy. We returned home [to Palmyra, New York,] the next day a cheerful, rejoicing little company.” [1]

Visitation of the Eight Witnesses[]

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Sculpture of Joseph Smith and the Eight Witnesses by Gary Ernest Smith

Lucy Mack Smith was also present when the Eight Witnesses returned from their experience:

“After these witnesses returned to the house, the angel again made his appearance to Joseph; at which time Joseph delivered up the plates into his hands. That evening we held a meeting, in which all the witnesses bore testimony to the facts as stated above; and all of our family, even to Don Carlos [Smith], who was but 14 years of age, testified of the truth of the latter day dispensation—that it was then fully ushered in.” [2]

  1. Testimony of Three Witnesses - Three men who were privileged to see the angel and the gold plates.
  2. Testimony of Eight Witnesses - Joseph Smith shows the gold plates to eight acquaintances.
  3. Joseph Smiths History is the account recorded in 1838 by the Prophet Joseph himself and is cited by most Mormon sects (including the LDS Church) as the official record of events. In Mormonism this account is generally referred to as his "witness" to the Book of Mormon.
  4. Witnesses of the Book of Mormon - (


  1. [Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, book 8, page 11–book 9, page 1,; capitalization and punctuation modernized.]
  2. [Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 156–57,]