One of the first things we notice as we study the history of America as found in the scriptures, is how serious God is about having the inhabitants of this land keep his commandments. When they were wicked, entire civilizations were removed from this land and allowed to live in the spirit world. We have warning from the Lord that the same could happen to us in our day if we are not careful.
History of America
America’s…history provides important lessons and warnings for today—lessons about God and his interest in the affairs of men; and warnings in the form of destructions that came to early American civilizations when they lost their reverence for family, morality, or God.
Joseph the Prophet told me that the garden of Eden was in Jackson [County] Missouri.
The spot chosen for the garden of Eden was Jackson County, in the State of Missouri, where Independence now stands; it was occupied in the morn of creation by Adam and his associates who came with him for the express purpose of peopling this earth.
|Cain Kills Able at Far West, Missouri|
|The Earth before it was divided 100 years after the Flood|
We are committed to the fact that Adam dwelt on this American continent. But when Adam dwelt here, it was not the American continent, nor was it the Western Hemisphere, for all the land was in one place, and all the water was in one place. There was no Atlantic Ocean separating the hemispheres. “And God said, let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so…” (Gen. 1:9-10). If all the water was in one place, then naturally all the land was in one place; therefore, the shape of the earth, as to the water and the land surface, was not as we find it today.
Then we read in Genesis that there came a time when the earth was divided (Gen 10:25). There are some people who believe that this simply means that the land surface was divided among the various tribes, but this is not the meaning; it was an actual dividing of the surface of the earth, and it was broken up as we find it now.
About a hundred years after the flood, we have the great continental separation, which must have been fantastic. The Babylonians talk about it, the Egyptians talk about it, the Greeks talk about it. They thought of course a continent had sunk. It didn’t, it departed and went west…. Scientists assume that this separation took place very gradually, one inch per year as it is now doing, and as scientists they would have to assume that that to be the case. But actually it happened very fast. And now that we have explored the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, we find no Atlantis, but we find the great scar that was left when this tremendous division took place in the days of Peleg.
For the Lord God hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence (2 Ne. 4:4).
|The Battle at the Hill Cumorah|
The discovery of America and the establishment of the United States was a part of God’s plan and was brought about by men who were inspired and guided by God…. The Lord guided Christopher Columbus to the New World. On several occasions Columbus gave credit to the Almighty. In writing to the Spanish leaders, he said, “Our Lord unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed…who can doubt but that the Holy Ghost inspired me?”
This same angel [Moroni] was with Columbus and gave him deep impressions, by dreams and by visions respecting this New World…was with him on the stormy deep, calmed the troubled elements, and guided his frail vessel to this desired haven.
[Everyone] who heard of my enterprise, called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed.
In your history books there is a myth that says that Columbus was the first one to appreciate that the world might be round. [But] that’s a complete myth! It never happened! That myth was put into our history books by Washington Erving, and he had this marvelous oration where Columbus tried to persuade them that it was round, and so forth, and they decided to take a chance, and it’s such a good story we can’t get it out of our history books. But it’s absolutely false. It never happened!
He [Columbus] was under the impression that the earth might be only 12,000 miles around. The Greeks had already done a special mathematical calculation and figured that it was about 25,000 miles around, and they figured that about 200 B.C…. The big question before the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, was whether it was 25,000 miles around, or whether it was 12,000 miles around…. Columbus said, “I know that within 3,000 miles I'll hit land,” and he did.
|The Prayer at Valley Forge|
This same angel [Moroni] presides over the destinies of America and feels a lively interest in all our doings. He was in the camp of Washington; and by an invisible hand, led on our fathers to conquest and victory…to prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere…. Under the guardianship of this same angel, the United States has grown and flourished.
Every one of these men that signed the Declaration of Independence with General Washington called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George…and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the house of God for them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years and yet nothing has been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you enjoy and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God….” I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Egypt, Greece, India, China, the unchanging East, have all paid the price of survival with endless suffering, yet their civilizations are still in place. But it is a different story in the New World, where great civilizations have arisen and collapsed for reasons that students are still wholly at a loss to explain. They just disappeared, and nobody knows why. And I think that is a warning.
Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance (Alma 45:16).
For behold, there is a curse upon all this land, that destruction shall come upon all those workers of darkness, according to the power of God, when they are fully ripe (Alma 37:28).
Sworn in his wrath…that whoso should possess this land of promise…should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them…and the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity. For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God – that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities…that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done (Ether 2:8-11).
O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in god that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins…or wo be unto it (Eth. 8:23-24).
I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing…. Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you (Morm. 8:35, 41).
In my youth I thought the Book of Mormon was much too preoccupied with extreme situations, situations that had little bearing on the real world of everyday life and ordinary human affairs. What on earth could the total extermination of nations have to do with life in the enlightened modern world?
Today no comment on that is necessary. Moroni gives it to us straight: This is the way it was before, and this is the way it is going to be again, unless there is a great repentance.
It is into our hands that the Book of Mormon has been placed…. Plainly it is meant for us, as it reminds us many times; it is the story of what happened to the Nephites—and we are the Nephites: “It must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old” (D&C 38:39).
With this warning in mind, one cannot help but ask if we know whether or not the United States will ever get to this stage of wickedness. Has the destruction of America ever been prophesied? If so, do we know how it will come about or when will it happen?
The answers to these and other questions are found in my new book entitled, Before the Second Coming.
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 Wilford Woodruffs Journal, (Mar. 1857), vol. 5, p. 15.
 Journal of Discourses, 10:235.
 Smith & Stewart, The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith, p.339.
 Smith & Stewart, The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith, p.339.
 D&C 107:53-57; Daniel 7:9-14.
 Moses 7:13; D&C 45:70.
 Moses 7:63; D&C 84:100; Journal of Discourses, 7:63.
 Genesis 7:13.
 Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:74-75.
 Genesis 10:25; D&C 133:23-24.
 Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:75.
 Speech given by, Skousen, in Favorite Speech Series, “Ancient Scriptures Tool For Conversion.”
 2 Nephi 1:5-9; Ether 2:7.
 Ether 15:29-32.
 Mormon 6.
 Mormon 8:23.
 See for example, Taylor, American Colonies, The Settling of North America, p. 39-46.
 1 Nephi 13:14.
 2 Nephi 1:5-9; Ether 2:7.
 1 Nephi 13:12.
 1 Nephi 13:12.
 Journal of Discourses 6:368
 Jacob Wassermann, Columbus, Don Quixote of the Seas, 19–20, 46.
 Speech given by, Skousen, in Favorite Speech Series, “Prophecy and Modern Times.”
 Nibley, Since Cumorah, p. 65.
 Moses 2-3; Abraham 4-5.
 Abraham 3:15; Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph, p. 251.
 Skousen, The First 2,000 Years, p. 231.
 Speech given by, Skousen, in Favorite Speech Series, Prophecy and Modern Times.
 Journal of Discourses, 6:368.
 D&C 101:80.
 Journal of Discourses, 19:229.
 D&C 98:5-7.
 D&C 109:54.
 Joseph Smith Diary, 10 March 1844, LDS Church Archives. See also speech given by, Skousen, in Favorite Speech Series, “The Book of Mormon and the Constitution.”
 Nibley, Approaching Zion, p. 416.
 Mormon 8:35.
 Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 468.
 Nibley Since Cumorah, p. 354.