The following is from “The Whitmers: A Family That Nourished the Church,” by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Ensign, Aug 1979:
And David Whitmer finally wrote a defiant letter, preferring to withdraw from the Church rather than sit down with his brethren to solve the problems (see History of the Church, 3:19). The attitudes of 1830 had not disappeared, David was told by revelation: “You have not given heed unto my Spirit, and to those who were set over you” (D&C 30:2). Thus personal pride was the real force in estranging prominent members of this valuable family. However, great barriers against reconciliation were added when the intolerance and threats of Church members at Far West forced the Whitmers to leave the city.
This is hardly a fair characterization of the events, especially by someone like Anderson, who no doubt had read David’s Addresses, the Far West Record, and the Book of John Whitmer. Anderson makes it appear that David’s pride was all that was at fault. David’s pride did not cause the Missourians to feel threatened, because their lands were going to be taken “by blood or by purchase.” (D&C 63:29)
Unless Joseph was willing to curtail his thirst for power, there was nothing to “solve.” Joseph’s original call as described in July of 1830 did not include banking:
And in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling. Attend to thy calling and thou shalt have wherewith to magnify thine office, and to expound all scriptures, and continue in laying on of the hands and confirming the churches. (D&C 24:9)
Yet Joseph went on to be involved in many temporal labors besides banking; he was a mayor, a hotel keeper, a colonel, an officer in the masonic lodge, he even ran for president of the United States. To assume these developments, in the light of the foregoing revelation did not cause some consternation among the Whitmer’s; that it was all David’s fault, is inane.
More from Anderson:
David lived ten years beyond John, dying in 1888. His feelings seemed to express a stronger ego and marked self-justification. Often he seemed to resent the intrusions of the curious, who interrupted his life, but he personified Paul’s sense of calling: “Necessity is laid upon me” (1 Cor. 9:16). A telling example occurred in 1882 when a twenty-three year old missionary, Matthias Cowley, later an apostle, visited David Whitmer along with his mission president, John Morgan. David bore his testimony, affirming his personal knowledge of the plates and angel, but Elder Cowley later told of David’s feelings about his testimony—never refusing to bear it BUT FEELING THAT IT WAS A BURDEN. From this the missionary-apostle composed a thought that tested true in his life’s experience: “As long as any man or woman studies the Gospel, and lives it, he will never tire of it.” In the eyes of this perceptive missionary, David had lost the joy brought by harmony with the Holy Ghost, even as he continued dutifully to bear testimony. (p. 35)
Anderson confirms the young Elder’s judgment of David by using the term “perceptive,” then spells out why – David had lost the Holy Ghost. But what if David had not lost the Holy Ghost, but simply grew weary of those who had, like the Mormons practicing polygamy “in the name of God!”