From time to time we like to look at examples of bias confirmation. By now, it is obvious to readers here that people can confirm pretty much any bias they have. They usually frame it as "following the evidence" and they usually believe that's the case.
Of course, any two people can look at exactly the same evidence and reach contradictory conclusions. That's why it's more important to understand the bias people are confirming than to debate the merits of the evidence.
This example involves the "mighty nation" mentioned in 1 Nephi 22:7.
7 And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered. (1 Nephi 22:7)
Soon after this article was published, I was delighted that a friend, Bruce Webster, shared his 2013 blog post with me. He reached the same conclusion that 1 Nephi 22:7 refers to the Spanish Empire.
Bruce Webster's post is here:
He also ignores the point that the mighty nation was to be raised up in the New World.
The US really didn’t become a “mighty nation” until the late 19th or early 20th Century. Spain, on the other hand, established a global empire pretty much coinciding with the discovery (by Spain) of North and South America at the end of the 15th Century, and it remained a mighty nation well into the 19th Century.
Spain conquered and claimed half of North America, all of Central America, and most of South America, in the process killing, enslaving, and scattering many of the native American inhabitants. The US, at the time of publication of the Book of Mormon, occupied less than half of its current extent and really hadn’t done much “scattering” of native Americans compared to what Spain had done for the previous 240 years.
I don't know how to quantify who did more "scattering," but even today, the tribes in the U.S. live largely on reservations far from their ancestral lands, while indigenous people in Latin America occupy their ancestral lands.
For that matter, much of the “scattering” of native Americans that happened in the eastern half of the United States happened under British rule (see “British Territory” on the map above), before the US was founded.
This would be a good point if it was true.
And, somewhat redundantly, the US never occupied Mesoamerica, which is where Book of Mormon events most likely occurred.
This is the bottom line for both Bruce and Kirk. And yet, Joseph Smith failed to take the Book of Mormon to Nephi's descendants in Mesoamerica. Instead, he took it personally to the entirely distinct Native Americans he (and the Lord) called Lamanites, as explained in D&C 28, 30, 32, and elsewhere.
Some references to the United States as a "mighty nation" follow:
The Book of Mormon prophecies concerning the future of America have been referred to in our hearing during this conference, wherein it is stated that this nation, though it becomes a mighty nation, still it can stand in security here only as it serves the God of this land. That conception was in the hearts of the men who rounded America.
(1920s, 1928, October, 5th Session, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, ¶17 • CR)
(1920s, 1924, October, 4th Session, Elder Stephen L Richards, ¶10 • CR)
Here then a great and magnificent spectacle breaks in upon the view. A mighty nation rising in arms to recover her natural rights, and boldly [Page 9] braving the storm of regal ambition.
(18c: 1790s; 1796, N22677 / 2. AN ORATION, Paul Allen, Providence, July 5, 1796,8¶–9¶)
The battle of the European warriors is indeed with a confused noise. It is the bruit of a war, which originated, on the one hand, in the too sanguine hope of planting the tree of liberty in every clime, and is prosecuted, on the other, with an unwarrantable acrimony against a mighty nation, struggling to be free, if not in direct repugnance to the natural rights of mankind, and the laws of eternal justice. If, in this huge contest between the sentiments of equal liberty, and the unnatural systems of arbitary power, the latter should prevail, America, in tears, will behold the triumph.
(18c: 1790s; 1794, N20534 / 1. ON THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE, Harvard, July 4, 1794, William Emerson,33¶)
Of all the injuries done us, none ought to be so quickly resented, or so severely punished, [Page 23] as an injury done to our country. The interests of our country, not only comprise our own, but the interests of a growing and mighty nation; the man, therefore, who seeks to injure his country, is guilty of the blood of millions.
(18c: 1790s; 1798, N26355 / 1. AMERICAN LIBERTY, Discourse in Watertown on July 4th 1798, by Rev. Israel B. Woodward,37¶)
The retiring President retained the full health and strength, the vigor and activity of a strong body and sound mind, equal to the functions of his elevation, and fitted to relish the fascinating charms of his grandeur. But these were not the motives for his consenting to appear at the head of a mighty nation▪ When his country could spare his agency, no inducement remained with him to continue in her service, and he resolved once more, "to pass the remainder of his days in honorable repose, and place his glory beyond the reach of fortune."
(18c: 1790s; 1800, N27614 / 1. A Discourse in Baltimore, Feb. 22, 1800 by Rev. Patrick Allison, &c.,21¶)
(18c: 1790s; 1800, N28804 / LUTHER RICHARDSON, JULY 4, 1800. 1. AN ORATION.,6¶)