This posting is intended to highlight certain verses in 1 Nephi 13 which pertain to the Promised Land and where exactly the Book of Mormon teaches it to be.
1 Nephi 13 : 11-12:
11 And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.
12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
Verses 11-13 very much seem to be speaking of Christopher Columbus – a man whose name in this current generation has been smeared due to the atrocities committed by the people whom he led to the Caribbean – Hispaniola. Hispaniola was the initial island settled by Columbus where the people were evidently the captured, smitten, and heavily killed. Many blame Christopher for this atrocity. I am no expert on the doings of Christopher Columbus. I did read some books about 5 years ago written by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What I did learn is that Christopher Columbus was a God fearing man who read and studied the Bible with great intensity. His intention was to teach Christianity to the naked and unlearned people living in the land he had discovered (Hispaniola or Haiti and the Dominican Republic today). He intended to enslave them as that was an accepted economic system of his day. The people he brought with him did not share the sentiments of teaching Christianity which Columbus envisioned. They wanted riches. They prevailed. Christopher Columbus did not have the power to control the real savages – the ones he brought with him.
Later, Christopher Columbus explored portions of South and Central America. According to one author, he claims to have seen a horse while he visited the mainland. (Christopher Columbus – A Man Among the Gentiles audio book). He never did set foot in North America.
Verse 12 tells that Christopher Columbus went among the seed of the brethren of Nephi. For fulfillment of the prophesy, either the people of Hispanola or the people of Central and South America or both constituted seed of the brethren of Nephi. That is not to say that all of the seed of Laman and Lemuel were in the Caribbean and what is now considered Latin America. But at least some of them were.
A Land of Promise
Now lets distinguish The American Continents which are simply a land of promise where the children of Lehi will dwell from the specific land given to the Seed of Lehi. 1 Nephi 13:13-19 are a description of the United States of America as it exists today.
1 Nephi 13 :13-19
13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
14 And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.
15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.
17 And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.
18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.
19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.
Verses 13-19 are a description of the formation of the United States of America and this is just one portion in this Land of Promise.
1 Nephi 13 : 30-31
30 Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the Gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren.
31 Neither will he suffer that the Gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren.
Nephi continues to describe the United States of America. And in verse 30 it says that this land of inheritance which is the modern United States of America is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance.
Can there seriously be anything more compelling than verse thirty which tells us that the land covenanted to Lehi as the land for the inheritance of his seed is in the land that is currently called the United States of America?
There are a lot more important teachings in Chapter 13 which would be fun to discuss. However, this article is written specifically to talk about the location of the Promised Land and to specify the location of the people who were living in the recorded pages of the Book of Mormon.
Summary: North and South America as a whole are all considered a Promised Land. However, the land covenanted to Lehi for his seed is what is now called the United States of America.