Letter VII is one of eight letters Oliver Cowdery wrote about Church history, with the assistance of Joseph Smith. In Letter VII, he makes it unequivocally clear that the Hill Cumorah in New York was the scene of the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites. Joseph had the letters copied into his history as part of his life story. Letter VII was published in 1835 in the Church newspaper titled the Messenger and Advocate. It was republished in 1841 in both the Gospel Reflector and the Times and Seasons.
During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, there was no question about the New York setting of the Hill Cumorah. Today, though, many LDS scholars reject what Oliver Cowdery wrote because they think the “real” Cumorah is somewhere in Mexico.
We think every member of the Church should read Letter VII during 2016. If you haven’t done so already, do it right away.
When you read Letter VII, realize that Oliver Cowdery was the Assistant President of the Church when he wrote it. Joseph helped him and fully endorsed the letter.
Critics say that Oliver and Joseph never claimed revelation about the setting of the Book of Mormon. That’s not a true statement; the most we can say is that we have no written record that they claimed this type of revelation (although even that’s debatable given the things Joseph said Moroni told him). But it doesn’t matter whether they received revelation on this or not because they did say they had visited the room–in the Hill Cumorah in New York–where Mormon deposited the Nephite records. Anyone can read the text and see that Mormon put the Nephite records in the same place where he observed the final destruction of the Nephites. Because Joseph and Oliver (and others) visited that depository, they knew the Hill Cumorah in New York was the scene of the final battles.
Moroni’s America is not just the name of this web page and related books. It’s a term that encapsulates several important principles.
First, Moroni holds “the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim” (D&C 27:5).
Second, Moroni wrote specifically to us, emphasizing that America is a “choice land above all other lands” and that it is a covenant land such that “the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2). It’s critical for people to understand what land Moroni was referring to. Even though he and Joseph made it clear, many scholars have diverted the focus to Central America and other sites.
Third, General Moroni was a heroic advocate for liberty. Realizing he was defending liberty right here in America brings the text to life and adds even more meaning and relevance.