Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 46, Number 1, 1978

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Personalities, Problems, and Perspectives



STANFORD J. L A Y T O N , Managing M I R I A M B. M U R P H Y , Associate J A N E T G. B U T L E R , Assistant

Editor Editor




M R S . I N E Z S. C O O P E R , Cedar City, S. G E O R G E E L L S W O R T H , Logan, G L E N M . L E O N A R D , Bountiful,


1978 1979

DAVID E. M I L L E R , Salt Lake City, 1979 L A M A R P E T E R S E N , Salt Lake City, 1980 R I C H A R D W . SADLER, Ogden,


H A R O L D S C H I N D L E R , Salt Lake City, G E N E A. S E S S I O N S , Bountiful,



Utah Historical Quarterly was established in 1928 to publish articles, documents, a n d reviews contributing to knowledge of U t a h ' s history. T h e Quarterly is published by the U t a h State Historical Society, 603 East South T e m p l e , Salt Lake City, U t a h 84102. Phone ( 8 0 1 ) 533-5755. M e m b e r s of the Society receive the Quarterly a n d the bimonthly Newsletter upon p a y m e n t of t h e a n n u a l d u e s ; for details see inside back cover. Single copies, $2.00. Materials for publication should b e submitted in duplicate accompanied by r e t u r n postage a n d should be typed double-space with footnotes a t the end. Additional information on requirements is available from t h e m a n a g i n g editor. T h e Society assumes no responsibility for statements of fact o r opinion by contributors. T h e Quarterly is indexed in Book Review Index to Social Science Periodicals, America: History and Life, a n d Abstracts of Popular Culture. Second class postage is paid a t Salt Lake City, U t a h . ISSN 0042-143X



Contents W I N T E R 1 9 7 8 / V O L U M E 46 / N U M B E R 1































T H E C O V E R The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad depot, future home of the Utah State Historical Society, was built in 1910 of terra cotta and red New Jersey rain-washed brick on a marble base.' Chicago architect Henry S. Schlachs designed the terminal using elements of both the Renaissance Revival and Beaux Arts styles. Located at Third South and Rio Grande in Salt Lake City, the depot is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 1 his photograph from the Society's collections was taken shortly after the building's completion.

© Copyright 1978 Utah State Historical Society

C H A R L E S S. P E T E R S O N .

A Bicentennial







K L A U S J. H A N S E N


J A M E S B. A L L E N a n d G L E N M .



of the Latter-day





Cross: Patterns of


and Profiles

a City






Quaker to Latter-day Saint: Bishop Edwin D. Woolley . D E L M O N T R. O S W A L D


H Y R U M L. A N D R U S a n d R I C H A R D E.

B E N N E T T , comps. Mormon Manuscripts to 1846: A Guide to the Holdings of the Harold B. Lee




Books reviewed L E O N A R D J. A R R I N G T O N .


J O A N S T U R H A H N . Carualho:

Photographer—Adventurer— Patriot; Portrait of a Forgotten American . .

R O B E R T G. A T H E A R N . Coloradans




L o u i s C. Z U C K E R





In this issue This issue marks the fiftieth anniversary year of Utah Historical Quarterly. First published in 1928, the Quarterly has undergone several changes in format and size but has remained constant in its commitment to scholarly excellence, variety, and readability. As the present issue illustrates, those qualities are still paramount after a half-century. Centered in this issue is a biographical sketch of J. Cecil Alter, founding editor of Utah Historical Quarterly. A man of many interests, many talents, and great energy, he nurtured the journal through its precarious first years, defined its standards, and donated his breadth of vision to it. This and the remaining three issues of the 1978 volume year are specially dedicated to him. T h e two preceding articles deal with polygamy and explore new dimensions to a sensitive but perpetual issue in LJtah history. The two succeeding articles reflect equal verve. One probes the difficult question of Blacks in Mormondom, and, by looking at the broader outline of U.S. social history, yields some enlightening hypotheses; the other challenges the revisionist view of one of Mormonism's most controversial and elusive personalities. Taken singly or together, the articles demonstrate that new methods of analysis, new data, and a spirit of dispassionate inquiry will produce a more profound understanding of complex historical problems. They comprise a fitting tribute to the memory of our guest of honor.

Divorce among Mormon Polygamists: Extent and Explanations BY E U G E N E

E. C A M P B E L L A N D



A b o v e : Dedicated in 1855, the Endowment House on Temple Square was the scene of LDS marriage rites for more than thirty years. Utah State Historical Society collections, photograph by Charles R. Savage.

have tended to emphasize the origin and motivation for the practice, courtship techniques, interfamily relationships, economic adjustments, housing arrangements, and legal diffiO T U D I E S OF M O R M O N POLYGAMY

Eugene E. Campbell is professor of history, Brigham Young University. Bruce L. Campbell is assistant professor of home economics, California State University, Los Angeles. This paper was read at the Annual Meeting of the U t a h State Historical Society, September 17. 1977, Salt Lake City. Technically, the Mormons practiced polygyny, the marriage of one man to two or more women. However, in the Mormon subculture polygamy is always taken to mean the marriage of one m a n to two or more wives. In this paper, polygamy, polygyny, and plural marriage will all refer to the Mormon practice.






culties, but very little has been written concerning divorce. Kimball Young has one short chapter in his Isn't One Wife Enough, but he admitted that he had "no adequate information as to the number of church divorces, granted annually or in toto." 1 H e believed that most divorces were granted by bishop's courts but said, "apparently some separations were managed by the President of the Church directly."' T o further complicate matters, it may never be possible to secure an accurate divorce rate for polygamous marriages because it is not known how many marriages took place, since plural marriages were not recorded officially. Stanley Ivins contended that "there is little chance that any private records which might have been kept will ever be revealed." J Nevertheless, recent studies have revealed that 1,645 divorces were granted by Brigham Young during the period of his presidency and that many of these were obtained by prominent pioneer leaders involved in the practice of plural marriage. Unfortunately, most of these records do not state the grounds for these divorces, nor the number of children involved, nor even if they were the result of polygamous marriages. However, they do indicate that many Mormon marriages during this period were rather unstable, and official attitudes toward divorce were quite lenient. 4 Despite the lack of documentary evidence that these divorces resulted from polygamous marriages, there are reasons to believe that most if not all of these certificates were issued to polygamists. First, many prominent men known to be polygamists are listed on these records of divorce. T h e names of many General Authorities as well as stake and ward leaders are included. Second, several cases reveal that two or more wives were divorced from one man on the same day. T h e most unusual case is that of George D. Grant who was divorced from three wives on the same day and a fourth within five weeks. More conclusive evidence is the fact that Brigham Young had no authority to grant civil divorces terminating monogamous marriages, but as president of the church he alone had the right to sever polygamous relationships. Polygamous marriages were always extralegal, and in the Mormon system only the president had the right to authorize marriages and divorces. T h e incoming ' K i m b a l l Young, Isn't One Wife Enough? (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1954), p. 234. 2 Ibid., p. 235. 3 Stanley Ivins, "Notes on Mormon Polygamy," Western Humanties Review 10 ( 1 9 5 6 ) : 230. 4 Box containing nine folders, numbered 1 to 917, plus several ledgers, Archives Division. Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.


Utah Historical Quarterly

and outgoing correspondence of the pioneer leader is replete with requests for permission to take extra wives as well as to be divorced from them. It should be noted that polygamous marriages continued to be solemnized by Brigham Young's successors, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, for thirteen years after President Young's demise, and it seems logical to believe that they also granted divorces. If they granted them in similar numbers, it is likely that there were well in excess of 2,000 divorces granted prior to the 1890 Manifesto. Since there were only an estimated 2,400 men practicing polygamy in 1885,5 2,000 or more divorces would be considerably higher than the national divorce rate in 1890 which was about one divorce per 1,000 existing marriages per year. Evidence from Michael Quinn's prosopographical study of early LDS church leaders tends to bear out these assumptions. He discovered that of the 72 General Authorities who entered into plural marriage, 39 were involved in broken marriages, including 54 divorces, 26 separations, and 1 annulment.6 George Levinger in his article on "Marital Cohesiveness" discusses three factors related to marital stability: positive attractions within the marriage, barriers to divorce, and alternative attractions outside the marriage.7 Some notable positive attractions within marriage are the status it gives, attraction to the spouse, children, and financial success through the economic cooperation of family members. Alternative attractions outside the marriage include such considerations as a new partner or increased status. If the marriage relationship is poor, escaping the marriage may be seen as an alternative attraction. In most societies, however, there are some barriers to divorce, such as "the emotional, religious and moral commitments that a partner feels toward his marriage or toward his children; the external pressures of kin and community, of the law, the church and other associational membership."8 In Mormon theology, marriage "for time and all eternity" was the key to exaltation and eternal glory. Such marriages, sealed by the priesthood, would endure forever and give men the possibility of eternal increase * See B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, Century 1, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 6:149, who "estimates that male members practicing polygamy represented only 2% of church population," which was about 120,000 in 1888. 8 Dennis Michael Quinn, "Organizational Development and Social Origins of the Mormon Hierarchy, 1832-1932: A Prosopographical Study" (M. A. thesis, University of Utah. 1973), pp. 248-91. Although there were 81 failures listed among church leaders, they were involved in more than 400 marriages. 'George Levinger, "Marital Cohesiveness and Dissolution: An Interpretive Review," Journal of Marriage and the Family (1965) : 248-91. "Ibid., p. 20.

Divorce among Mormon Polygamists


whereby they could achieve godhood, ruling over their progeny. Such concepts put successful marriage at the very top of the Mormon value system and supplied many of the positive attractions of plural marriage. Gradually, plural marriage became such an important institution in the Mormon subculture that some leaders were teaching that it was essential for eternal exaltation. For example, in 1886 the Mutual Improvement Association of Hyrum, Utah, began producing weekly manuscript newspapers that were passed around the community from home to home. The first edition of the Evening Star contained a sermon by a local leader on the front page that began "no one may be saved in the celestial kingdom of God unless he enters into the practice of plural marriage." A later edition asserted that "Abraham, the friend of God, was a polygamist. We have no account of the Lord appearing to Abraham before he had taken his second wife."9 Another example of Mormon beliefs in this regard was suggested by Apostle Orson Pratt in the first official announcement and defense of polygamy in 1852. Asserting that polygamy was a sacred order that had been the practice of such biblical figures as Abraham, Jacob, and others, he then suggested . . . that there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus—such as Mary, and Martha her sister, and Mary Magdalene; and Jesus greatly loved them, and associated with them much, and when he arose from the dead, instead of first showing himself to his chosen witnesses, the Apostles he appeared first to these women, or a least to one of them, namely Mary Magdalene. Now, it would be very natural for a husband in the resurrection to appear first to his own dear wives, and afterwards show himself to his other friends. 10

Although this was not official church doctrine, there was considerable pressure in Mormon communities to enter into polygamy. During one of the October conference meetings in 1875, Apostle Wilford Woodruff asserted: We have many bishops and elders who have but one wife. They are abundantly qualified to enter the higher law and take more, but their wives will not let them. Any man who will permit a woman to lead him and bind him down is but little account in the Church and Kingdom of God. The law of Patriarchal marriage and plurality of wives is a revelation and commandment of God to us, and we should obey it. . . .1X 8 Eugene E. Campbell, "Social, Cultural and Recreational Life," in The History of a Valley: Cache Valley, Utah-Idaho, ed. Joel E. Ricks and Everett L. Cooley (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1956), p. 418. 10 Young, Isn't One Wife Enough? pp. 39-40. "Matthias F. Cowley. Wilford Woodruff . . . (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909), p. 490.


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Despite such teachings, Stanley Ivins theorized that without pressure from the federal government the Mormons would have given up polygamy, perhaps even sooner than they did. H e stated that "far from looking upon plural marriage as a privilege to be made the most of, the rank and file Mormons accepted it as one of the onerous obligations of church membership. Left alone, they were prone to neglect it, and it always took some form of pressure to stir them to renewed zeal." 12 Kimball Young believed that "a marriage and family system such as polygamy, superimposed as it was upon Christian monogamy with all its values, was, at times, bound to induce such stress as to require some official form of divorce." 13 Both Young and Ivins seem to support the proposition that in the particular circumstances of Mormon polygamy the positive attractions to polygamous unions were so few that in spite of theological barriers against divorce, many would desire to be freed from plural marriages. Kimball Young also noted that in many cases couples separated without divorce. H e maintained that "while the records are often rather uncertain, the inference may be drawn that there was a general public acceptance of the idea that if a m a n and woman could not get along, they were free to break up and seek new mates." 14 In some cases, the wife would leave for California or return to her home in the East or run off with another man. Thus, even if it is believed that the positive attractions to polygamy were limited, it should not be assumed that because the Mormons strongly advocated polygamy and the eternal family concept, the barriers against divorce, at least in polygamous unions, were very strong. T h e church leaders recognized the difficulties involved in establishing a different marriage system, and their own limited experience convinced them that there would be failures. In addition to the normal problems that arise in marriage relationships, the Mormon concepts of millennialism, the feelings of romantic love, and the lack of proven standards of conduct and behavior all contributed to the relatively high ratio of divorce among M o r m o n polygamists. MILLENNIALISM

There are numerous evidences that L D S church leaders and members alike expected to witness the second coming of Christ and planned to participate in his millennial kingdom. A case in point was the millenM

Ivins, "Notes on Mormon Polygamy," p. 232. Young, Isn't One Wife Enough? p. 226. " I b i d . , p. 452. 13

Divorce among Mormon Polygamists


nialist fervor expressed at the dedication of the cornerstones of the Salt Lake Temple in 1853, and Orson Pratt's warning in 1855 that "this event (Christ's second coming) is nearer than this people are aware of."15 In 1862 Brigham Young's statement to a group of his colleagues at the site of the Salt Lake Temple was even more explicit: I expect this temple will stand through the millennium . . . and this is the reason why I a m having the foundation of the temple taken u p . . . . If we do not hurry with this, I a m afraid we shall not get it u p until we have to go back to Jackson County, (Missouri) which I expect will be in seven years. . . , 16

Millennial expectations rose to a considerable height during the socalled Reformation in the years 1856 to 1858, and apparently many plural marriages were contracted as a result of this extreme religious pressure. Stanley Ivins's study summarized these developments as follows: Beginning in the fall of 1856 and during a good part of the following year, the U t a h M o r m o n s were engaged in the greatest religious revival of their history. T o the fiery and sometimes intemperate exhortations of their leaders, they responded with fanatical enthusiasm, which at times led to acts of violence against those w h o were slow to repent. T h e r e was a general confession of sins and renewal of covenants through baptism, people hastened to return articles "borrowed" from their neighbors, and men w h o had not before given a thought to the m a t t e r began looking for new wives. And, as one of fruits of "the Reformation," plural marriages skyrocketed to a height not before approached and never again to be reached. If our tabulation is a true index, there were sixty-five per cent more of such marriages during 1856 and 1857 than in any two years of this experiment. 1 7

An interesting glimpse of this period is provided by a letter from Wilford Woodruff to George A. Smith in April 1857: W e have had a great reformation this winter; some of the fruits a r e : all have confessed their sins either great or small, restored their stolen property; all have been baptized from the presidency d o w n ; all are trying to pay their tithing and nearly all are trying to get wives, until there is hardly a girl 14 years old in U t a h , but w h a t is married, or just going to be. President Young has hardly time to eat, drink or sleep, in consequence of marrying the people and attending the endowments. 1 8

In fact, competition for wives was so intense that several men asked permission to marry girls under the age of fourteen. One man was given 15 Louis G. Reinwand, "An Interpretative Study of Mormon Millennialism during the Nineteenth Century. . ." (M. A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1971), pp. 8 1 , 86. 10 "Journal History of the C h u r c h , " August 22, 1862, LDS Archives. Mormons equate "going back to Jackson County" with the beginning of the millennium. 17 Ivins, "Notes on Mormon Polygamy," p. 231. " " J o u r n a l History," April 1, 1857.


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permission but was counseled by Brigham Young to "preserve her intact until she is fully developed into womanhood." T o another who requested permission to marry two sisters, he wrote, "I do not wish children to be married to men before an age which the mothers generally can best determine." A third applicant was advised, "Go ahead, but leave the children to grow." 19 Circumstances that promoted such pressures may be seen in the following letter written to Brigham Young at the height of the Reformation by a resident of Fillmore: M y circumstances is this, my wife has been cut off from the C h u r c h a n d Bishop Brunson c o m m a n d e d me to have no more to do with her as wife t h a t I was free from her, and go and get me a good wife, and a half a dozen of t h e m if I wanted them, but did not tell m e where to go. as it is evident that I must go somewhere else than Fillmore as there is 56 single m e n here besides all the married ones that are on the anxious seat to get m o r e and only 4 single women. N o w Sir would it not [be a] good policy for m e to go on a Mission to the States or England if you thought best I know of some good women in the States of my own Baptizing that might be got besides m a n y more. 2 0

T h e pressure to marry polygamously appears to have been intense, and little attention was paid to the future stability of such marriages because of the belief that the coming millennium would solve such earthly problems. This pressure to marry for religious reasons may not have taken into account the necessary compatibility of the marriage partners. Additionally, many of the normal problems of marriage, such as earning a livelihood, personality adjustment, the sexual relationship, jealousies, and child rearing were all magnified in plural marriage. When the idealism of millennial expectations subsided, many couples discovered the incompatibility of their plural marriage, and divorce or separation seemed to be the solution to their dilemma. Apparently, the field of eligible women one had to choose from became very limited in some areas, and compatibility in such marriages became even more problematic. Thus the millennialist orientation of the early Mormons tended to induce them to contract plural marriages for religious reasons, and this led to strains and tensions in the everyday management of marriage. T h e leaders of the church were well aware of the strains in polygamous marriages. Speaking on polygamy in September 1856, at the height of the Reformation, Brigham Young said: 19

Brigham Young, Outgoing Correspondence, LDS Archives, pp. 22-26. " Brigham Young, Incoming Correspondence, LDS Archives, M a r c h 5, 1857.


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. . . it is frequently h a p p e n i n g that women say they are u n h a p p y . M e n will say " M y wife, though a most excellent w o m a n , has not seen a h a p p y day since I took my second wife;" . . . another has not seen a h a p p y day for five years. It is said that women are tied down and abused: that they are misused a n d have not the liberty they ought to h a v e ; that m a n y of t h e m are wading through a perfect flood of tears, because of the conduct of some men together with their own folly. I wish my own women to understand that w h a t I a m going to say is for t h e m as well as others, a n d I w a n t those w h o are here to tell their sisters, yes, all the women of the community, and then write back to the States, and do as you please with it. I a m going to give you from this time to the 6th day of October next, for reflection, that you m a y determine whether you wish to stay with your husbands or not, and then I a m going to set every w o m a n at liberty and say to them, N o w go your way, my w o m e n with the rest, go your way. And my wives have got to do one of two things; either round u p their shoulders to endure the afflictions of this world, and live their religion, or they m a y leave, for I will not have them about me. I will go into heaven alone, rather t h a n have scratching a n d fighting around me. 2 1

Two weeks later, at General Conference, he announced that he would fulfill his promise by releasing them under "certain conditions and that is that you will appear forthwith at my office and give good and sufficient reasons, and then marry men that will not have but one wife."5 On December 15, 1858, George A. Smith called on the church president to make application for a divorce in behalf of Nicholas Groesbeck from his second wife. President Young said that when a man married a wife, he took her for better or worse and had no right to ill use her; a man that would mistreat a woman in order to get her to leave him would find himself alone in the worlds to come. He said he knew of no law to give a man in polygamy a divorce. He had told the brethren that if they would break the law, they should pay for it; but he did not want them to come to him for a divorce as it was not right. He then appealed to George A. Smith for confirmation of his position. Smith said, "President Young it is with you as it was with Moses. There is no law authorizing divorce, but through the hardness of the people you are obligated to permit it."23 Three days later Young said: It is not right for the brethren to divorce their wives the way they do. I a m determined that if men don't stop divorcing their wives, I shall stop sealing. M e n shall not abuse the gifts of God and the privileges the way they are doing. Nobody can say that I have any interest in the matter, 21

Journal of Discourses. . . , 26 vols. (Liverpool, 1854-86), 4:55. Wilford Woodruff, Journal, October 6, 1856, LDS Archives. 23 "Journal History," December 18, 1858.



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for I charge nothing for sealings, but I do charge for divorcing. I want the brethren to stop divorcing their wives for it is not right. 2 4

Although President Young was opposed to divorce and was seriously concerned about the number of men divorcing their wives, it appears that he was willing to grant divorces when the people requested it. In the case of women, he seemed especially generous in freeing them from an unhappy marriage. O n one occasion, in a meeting with George A. Smith and others, he complained that "many men who come to him to get sealed would say 'thank you Brother Brigham,' and when a woman wanted to leave they were too stingy to get [buy] a bill of divorce." 25 His advice to a woman who came to him for counsel, was to "stay with her husband as long as she could bear with him, but if life became too burdensome, then leave and get a divorce." T h e n he remarked that other than a little scripture on the subject, he was not aware that the Lord had given any special revelations on the subject of divorce. 26 Brigham Young was in a very difficult position. As head of the L D S church he could have made obtaining divorces more difficult, but such a move could have resulted in rather undesirable (from his perspective) outcomes. If pressure was needed to force people into polygamy and divorce became very difficult to obtain, perhaps fewer people would be willing to enter into plural marriages. And, if Kimball Young's observation that the subculture allowed for casual separation of incompatible couples is correct, any attempt to strengthen the barriers to divorce may have only increased the number of Saints who were marrying and divorcing and remarrying outside of any authority—church or state. Perhaps President Young sensed that if he were to have any reasonable control over polygamy he must permit some divorces. Thus, although statements about the family and the eternal nature of the marriage covenant might lead one to conclude that the barrier against divorce in Mormon polygamy was strong, there wrere other factors tending to reduce that barrier. In fact, the belief in millennialism may have operated to increase marriage tensions, resulting in a rather ambivalent attitude toward divorce in the Mormon subculture. R O M A N T I C LOVE

William J. Goode in his article on love suggests that the theoretical importance of this universal psychological potential (romantic love) is 24

Ibid., December 15, 1858. Ibid., November 15, 1858. 211 "Brigham Young's Office Journal." October 5. 1861, LDS Archives.


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"to be seen in the sociostructural patterns which are developed to keep it from disrupting existing social arrangements." 27 Romantic love posed a dilemma for Mormon polygamists because it had the potential to disrupt marriages contracted for religious reasons rather than for love or personal attraction. On the other hand, many Mormons of marriageable age were influenced by the American norm of romantic love as the most acceptable basis for marriages. This norm was rather new to America, but in a study of the reactions of foreign visitors to American marriage customs between 1800-50, Furstenberg noted that they universally reported the startling conclusion that romantic love was the basis for marriage in America during that era.28 Romantic love is explosive enough in and of itself, but combined with a futuristic millennial spirit and the openness of the western frontier it created a potentially volatile situation in the Mormon communities. Bessie Strong, the second wife of Aaron Strong remarked, "In the beginning of the movement men took wives because it was a sacred duty, but in later years they were beginning to take them more because they fell in love with younger women. And when they did this, the older wife often suffered. Men abused the Principle. . . ."20 The difficulties encountered in trying to manage love in Mormon polygamy were described by Richard Ballantyne, founder of the Mormon Sunday School system. H o w delicate is the position of m a n in plural marriage w h o loves his wives and who in turn is loved by them. Every move he makes, in his relation or intercourse with them, is an arrow that pierces deep into the heart of one or the other. Even his very looks a n d thoughts are r e a d ; true, often misinterpreted to m e a n partiality for one at the expense of another, be he ever so fair and good in his intention. H o w difficult his situation. W h a t can he d o to please them all? In trying to solve this question his difficulties only increase. A thousand thoughts a n d plans may come into his mind, b u t there is only one true solution. H e must please God. In doing this, it may be hoped t h a t bye a n d bye, he may also please them. Again, the situation is only aggravated when we discover the natural jealousy of the sex gradually unfolding itself. We speak of the attitude women should assume, and which, I have no doubt, they will hereafter be educated to assume, when the love of God and godliness predominates over low a n d sensual passion; but of this I d o not now write, but of things that have existed in the past, and that, somewhat modified by experience for the better, exists today. 27

William J. Goode, " T h e Theoretical Importance of Love," American Sociological 24 (1959) : 47. 28 Frank Furstenberg, Jr., "Industrialization and the American Family: A Look Backward," American Sociological Review 31 (June 1966) : 326-37. 29 Young, Isn't One Wife Enough? p. 385. Review

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Jealousy, then allied to its twin sister H a t r e d , manifests its hideous form in various ways. In its extreme aspects it is said to be "cruel as the grave," which swallows u p a n d consumes its victim. But even in a modified form its influence makes m u c h trouble to the husband. O u t of it comes selfishness which destroys t h a t nice sense of justice which should exist in every household. T h e n discontent; m u r m u r i n g ; deceit, slander, misrepresentations. . . . 3n "The Jealous Wives" is typical of the polygamy. An interesting letter sup- cartoons satirizing Mormon Utah State Historical Society collections. porting the idea that love and polygamy were antithetical, written by a prominent Mormon educator whose father was a polygamist, contains the following excerpts: I agree that the plural marriage of Myron [Tanner] did not work out well and that in this particular respect he would not rate even an average. However, I do not agree with Kimball Y o u n g that a large n u m b e r of the polygamists were eminently successful. It is one thing to get accurate facts from a journal like that of M a r y J a n e M o u n t , and quite something else to get slanted material from someone trying to defend polygamy. In addition to what M a r y J a n e said in her journal I h a p p e n to have a copy of a long letter she wrote to Mrs. H . H. Bancroft about the same time in which she stoutly defends polygamy and tells w h a t a good thing it is for the women to live u n d e r that plan. Hard to believe? . . . I doubt there was a w o m a n in the church w h o was in any way connected with Polygamy w h o was not heartsick, just as M a r y J a n e expressed it. T h e y would not a d m i t it in public because of their loyalty to the church a n d their brothers and sisters. But deep down inside they all felt like Annie Clark a n d M a r y J a n e M o u n t . This is a subject I know a great deal a b o u t ; my father was a polygamist—as good as the general run—probably no better, but he just was not able to keep h a r m o n y in the family. In all my research, when you are M

Richard Ballantyne, Journal, p. 234, L D S Archives.






able to get all the way to the bottom, you will find heartaches. T h e women try to be brave, but no w o m a n is able to share a husband whom she loves with one or more other women. And the second and third wives have even a h a r d e r time. Only a few of the women involved in polygamy asked for a divorce simply because it was not a popular thing to do. Convention would not allow it. But I can show you journal after journal when a wife is talking from her heart, as M a r y J a n e did, that they felt about like M a r y J a n e . M a n y of them even more bitter, more like Annie Clark [Tanner]. 3 1

O n the difficulty of combining love and plural marriage Kimball Young concluded : Perhaps Brigham Y o u n g and others were wise when they poohpoohed r o m a n t i c love as a factor in polygamous situations. Certainly there is some evidence in a few of our records that where the wives did not seem to be particularly fond of their husbands in the romantic sense, they were able to make a better adjustment than were those w h o were romantically involved with their spouses. 32

It appears that in the Mormon system, romantic love and millennial ideas were not consistent. Millennial zeal and the pressures to obtain new wives were a threat to the stability of existing love marriages. O n the other hand, if the first marriage was not based on love, a new plural relationship based on romance was also a threat to existing relationships. ANOMIE

Emile Durkheim, the great French sociologist, theorized that society was needed to place some constraints upon the behavior of men and women but that society could be disturbed by some painful crisis or by beneficent but abrupt transitions so that momentarily it could no longer regulate the affairs of men. ; This is known as the state of anomie or normlessness. Durkheim describes this state as follows: . . . the scale is upset; but a new scale cannot be immediately improvised. T i m e is required for the public conscience to reclassify men and things. So long as the social forces thus freed have not regained equilibrium, their respective values are u n k n o w n and so all regulation is lacking for a time. T h e limits are u n k n o w n between the possible and the impossible, what is just and w h a t is unjust, legitimate claims and hopes and those which are immoderate. 3 4 al

George Shepherd T a n n e r to Max T a n n e r (copy in possession of the authors). Young, Isn't One Wife Enough? p. 209. 33 Emile Durkheim, Suicide, trans. John A. Spalding and George Simpson (New York • Free Press, 1951), p. 252. 34 Ibid., p. 253. 32


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I n a societal state of anomie, suicide rates increase, according to Durkheim, and divorces also increase—a sort of anomie suicide. 33 Divorce rates increase not because there are more bad husbands and wives, or even bad marriages, but because of a lack of regulations in the social structure including the marriage and family system. It cannot be argued that polygamy per se is related to the state of normlessness. Professor George Murdock, a noted anthropologist, has demonstrated that polygyny is the preferred marriage system in a majority of societies he studied. H e points out, however, that polygyny poses some personal adjustment problems that may not arise in monogamy, such as sexual jealousy, but that societies that favor polygyny have elaborate social mechanisms to control the interaction of husband and wives in marriage. Speaking of the Mormon experience he wrote: I t is very probably their internal troubles in making the institution operate harmoniously, rather than external pressures, that induced the M o r m o n s ultimately to a b a n d o n polygamy. T h a t it can be m a d e to work smoothly is perfectly clear from the evidence of ethnography. 3 6

It is here argued that Mormon polygamy developed within a context of normlessness or anomie, resulting from millennialist expectations that alienated the Mormons from conventional society. As Thomas O'Dea suggests: T h e very separateness of the M o r m o n group removed them still further from the inhibitions that discourage innovation in the general society. They were not really a part of conventional society. Moreover, hostility set them further apart, increased their separateness, and thereby further weakened the bonds of convention. As separateness encouraged innovation, innovation in return increased separateness by providing a creedal basis for evolving peculiarity. 3 7

I n addition to "evolving pecularity," the Mormons were moving en masse to establish a new society in the Great Basin, involving immigrants from Europe, Canada, and the United States, many of whom had left parents, spouses, even children, as well as jobs and secure positions in their communities, in order to embrace the new faith and gather to the new Zion. Lives were in a state of flux, and pragmatic adjustments were the order of the day. Robert Flanders believes that Joseph Smith and many of his prominent followers (i.e., Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball) were alienated 35

Ibid., p. 273. George P. Murdock, Social Structure (New York: MacMillan Company, 1949), p. 31. 37 Thomas F. O'Dea, The Mormons (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp.








from the greater American culture and that they saw themselves living in a world they needed to prepare for the cataclysmic second coming of Jesus Christ. "Specifically, he [Joseph Smith] believed himself called to found the premillennial kingdom of God on earth. In this image of the Prophet Joseph, tens of thousands believed, even during his own brief lifetime." 38 Acting on this belief Mormons gathered to Zion at various times in New York, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois only to be driven to the Rocky Mountains by their fellow Americans. For many Mormons the society of the United States was corrupt and antithetical to their religious goals, so that society no longer regulated them. But the new society of Mormonism with its millennialist future orientation had not developed into anything resembling a mature social system with the many forms of checks and balances that are needed to regulate any society. A condition of anomie existed in which "the limits are unknown between the possible and the impossible, what is just and what is unjust, legitimate claims and hopes and those which are immoderate." Rudger Clawson, defendant in the first polygamy case to come to trial under the Edmunds law, revealed the Mormon position regarding society's laws when he said: I very m u c h regret that the laws of my country should come in conflict with the laws of C o d ; but whenever they do, I shall invariably choose the latter. If I did not so express myself, I would feel unworthy of the cause I represent. . . . T h e law of 1862 and the E d m u n d s law were expressly designed to operate against marriage as practiced and believed by the Latter-day Saints. They are therefore, unconstitutional and, of course, cannot c o m m a n d the respect that a Constitutional law would. 3 0

Eleanor J. McLean married Parley P. Pratt in polygamy while still married to Hector McLean, although she was separated from him. When asked if she had divorced McLean before she married Pratt, she answered : No, the sectarian priests have no power from God to m a r r y ; and a so called marriage ceremony performed by them is no marriage at all; no divorce was needed. . . . T h e priesthood, with its powers and privileges can be found nowhere upon the face of the earth but in U t a h . . . . 40

Such a dichotomy between the laws of God and the laws of m a n is strongly expressed in many early Mormon writings. T h e roots of anomie thought can be seen in such statements. 38 Robert Flanders, "To Transform History: Early Mormon Culture and the Concept of Time and Space," Church History 40 ( 1 9 7 1 ) : 110. 38 Salt Lake Tribune, November 4, 1884. * Stephen Pratt, " T h e Last Days of Parley P. Pratt," Brigham Young University Studies ( 1 9 7 5 ) : 20.


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Another interesting case is that of Apostle Orson Hyde who eventually married nine wives and had three divorces. He was assigned to go to Carson Valley to serve as probate judge in 1854. When it became apparent that he should spend the winter of 1854-55 there, he wrote Brigham Young as follows: But if I do stay, I want a wife with me. Either M a r i n d e r or M a r y Ann or someone else, say Sister Paschall—I will leave it to you to determine. . . . If you think it not wisdom for anyone to come to me from the lake, may I get one here if I can find one to suit. . . ? T h e chances to get a wife here are not very many even if a m a n wanted to get one in this country. Women are scarce and good ones are scarcer still! 41

His wife Mary Ann was sent to him, and after spending the winter with her he proposed to leave her "here with her sister, having taken up a good ranch that will do for both, and not knowing what my future destiny may be." 42 Marriage for Hyde seemed to be just a temporary convenience. Such an attitude would not have been honored in a well-established community that had developed strict standards of conjugal behavior. Consider the case of George Stringham who married Polly Hendrickson in 1820 and raised a family of six children. In 1858, after all of the children were married, he married a much younger woman polygamously and moved from the home of his first wife, leaving her almost destitute. This embittered some of the children, and one daughter gave vent to her feelings in a letter written to her mother in 1860, portions of which follow: M a m a , you was telling me of your trials. O h how sorry it makes me feel for you to think you have to live alone, but I a m glad you are as well satisfied with your lot, but I don't know how you can believe it is right for an old m a n to p u t away an old woman after they have raised a great family of children for them, and get a young one, and I tell you I don't believe there is any God in it. I would like to know what poor miserable w o m a n was m a d e for. If that is right they are no better off than the beasts, I tell you m a m a I can't believe that it is a just God to require such as that of women, for when he created them, he m a d e the w o m a n his helpmate. H e didn't say for a while or till they was old and tired of them and then put them away for a younger one or another and leave the old one in sorrow and trouble. I tell you m a m a , the m a n that does it will have to answer for. H o w many times I heard you say that you believed that a m a n would have to answer for the trouble he m a d e for woman. I don't know how you can believe it for the way I look at it its against the Bible and strongly against the Book of M o r m o n . I know I shall always believe it, 41 Albert Page, "Orson Hyde and the Carson Valley Mission, 1855-57" (Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 1970), p. 22. 42 Ibid.






you know it says that was the downfall of the Nephites, they getting wives and concubines. T h e God was angry with them and destroyed them off from the earth, because it was not right. If it had been right why didn't he make more than one for old Adam, I tell you m a m a it is not right nor never was nor never will be for God has not changed. 4 3

This arrangement lasted fourteen years, and then in his old age he returned to his first wife. Apparently there were no powerful social mechanisms to regulate Stringham's behavior. Another rather unusual case was that of Thomas Grover. A widower with six children, he married a woman with three children of her own before becoming involved in polygamy. Later, he claimed that while praying for a testimony on plural marriage the Lord showed him in a vision the woman he should marry. He met her later in Nauvoo, married her, and she ultimately bore him twelve children. In later life, when it became apparent that her husband was never going to make much of a mark in the world, his wife H a n n a h became restless and hard to live with. She began suggesting divorce and even wrote to Daniel H. Wells, a member of the First Presidency of the church, proposing that Thomas Grover's entire family including wives and children be sealed to Wells. Wells advised her to stay with her husband, because " T h o m a s Grover is as good a m a n as I a m " and cautioned her to keep the whole affair secret. However, H a n n a h left her husband and went and lived with her son Thomas in Nephi. O n November 14, 1871, she was sealed to Daniel H. Wells in the Endowment House." There is no record of her securing a divorce or having her sealing to Grover canceled, although that would have been the normal procedure. T h e r e appear to have been no checks on her behavior. This case may be an example of a doctrine that appears to be rooted in anomie which was preached by Brigham Young in October 1861: But there was a way in which a woman could leave a m a n lawfully— when a w o m a n becomes alienated in her feelings and affections from her husband, it is his duty to give her a bill and set her free—it would be fornication for a m a n to cohabit with his wife after she h a d thus become alienated from him. . . . Also, there was another way in which a woman could leave a man—if the w o m a n preferred a m a n higher in authority and he is willing to take her and her husband gives her u p . T h e r e is no bill

43 Letter from Sabra Stringham to Polly Stringham, June 10, 1860 (copy in possession of the a u t h o r s ) . 44 Mark Grover, " T h e Effects of Polygamy upon Thomas Grover." (Seminar Paper in possession of the a u t h o r s ) .

20 of divorce required, in [this] case it is right in the sight of God. . . . 45

A more careful study of the marriages of Zina Huntington Jacobs and Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner may be justified in light of this pronouncement. All of these cases appear to share a common normless quality about them—the limits on action and the source of those limits are not at all clear. In this regard, Kimball Young remarked :

Zina D. H. Young apparently never divorced her first husband, Henry B. Jacobs. Utah]State Historical Society collections.

It should by no means be assumed that conflict was the inevitable aspect of plural family life. T h e real problem was that the difficulties could not be easily settled because the culture did not provide any standardized way for handling these conflicts. For the most part, these people genuinely tried to live according to the Principle, but when they applied the rules of the game borrowed from monogamy, such as not controlling feelings of jealousy, they got into real trouble. 4 0

Thus, the regulations in American monogamy emphasizing romantic love and interpersonal attractions as social mechanisms were not easily adapted to Mormon polygamy. Murdock reports that in those societies preferring polygyny as a marriage system, the majority prefer sororal polygyny, the marriage of one man with two or more sisters. Kimball Young reports that about 19 percent of the Mormon families he studied practiced sororal polygyny and that this method worked quite well; but when other wives were added who were not sisters, difficulties multiplied.47 This practice, far from universal, appears to have occurred because there were no limits rather than because it was a preferred mode of marriage. The example of John D. Lee marrying the mother of three of his wives "for her soul's sake" and others marrying a mother and daughter 45 Conference Reports, October 8, 1861 (reported by George D. Watt. Also found in the Journal of James Beck), October 8, 1861. 46 Young, Isn't One Wife Enough? p. 209. 47 Ibid., p. 111.






at the same time are examples of a lack of limits that would not have been tolerated in other more well established societies. For polygamous norms, the Mormons could and did turn to the Old Testament. Even then they had problems adapting those teachings to their needs. For example, although the practice of sororal polygamy was frequently used in Mormon polygamy, the code of the Old Testament forbade this practice. Queen and Haberstein's description of Hebrew attitudes makes that clear: T h e Hebrews, like all other peoples, had laws prohibiting marriage between persons with certain degrees of kinship and affinity. In earliest times stress was laid on the mother's line. T h u s a m a n might marry his half-sister if they had different mothers, but not if they had the same mother. In those early days the prohibition included mother's sister, mother and daughter. Later regulations extended the ban to paternal halfsisters, stepmother, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. T h e levitical code barred, in addition to the preceding, marriage of any m a n with any wife of his father, his father's sister, father's brother's wife, daughter's daughter, son's wife or daughter, brother's wife and wife's sister (during the lifetime of the wife.) 4 8

T h e rules governing marriage in Jewish culture developed over thousands of years and reflected the move from a migratory to a more sedentary life. Many of the regulations were not compatible with the Mormon circumstance. In the Mormon situation the extended family was not a particularly important structure. Intergenerational ties and living conditions were not prominent for a number of reasons. When a marriage broke up, the family also was broken. Queen and Haberstein say: . . . the Hebrew family for most purposes, was not the small conjugal group, but the household or ever larger kinship group. Marriage was not unimportant, but the wedded couple was absorbed in the consanguine family of the three generations and many collateral relatives. 49

Although the Mormons may have wished for regulation out of the Old Testament, it did not seem very compatible with their circumstance; there is little indication that it was used as a serious guide to their marriage regulation. There were rules, however. T h e first wife's permission was supposed to be obtained before another wife was taken. Each wife was to have a separate house or apartment of her own, and the husband was supposed to show evidence that he could support additional households. But these rules were not followed carefully. There were no 48 Stuart A. Queen and Robert W. Haberstein, The Family York: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1967), p. 167. 9 * Ibid.

in Various




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rules governing courtship procedures nor the number of wives a m a n might marry. CONCLUSIONS

Evidence has been presented indicating that the M o r m o n system of polygamy was not one of consistent and strong regulation. In fact, in many ways it appears to have been a system in which many unusual practices developed as the limits were not clear to those involved. T h e divorce rate and number of separations were high not because polygamous marriage was difficult in this American context, per se, but because the context of Mormon polygamy was a state of anomie or normlessness caused by their millennialist belief system and the instability of their lives in colonizing the Great Basin. T h e explosive nature of this system can be seen in the troubles Mormons experienced with their American contemporaries in the West and Midwest. 50 T h e only standards for conduct were the actions and advice of the church leaders, and they could not be fully effective in regulating plural marriage for many reasons. They apparently claimed no special inspiration on the regulation of such a system, and their own limited experience with polygamy allowed them to propose only individualistic solutions to many problems. Because of the sub rosa nature of the practice of polygamy, one could not always take the statements about it from church leaders at face value. Some things were said for private information and others for public consumption. This often left the membership of the church without a clear guide for action. During the 1880s when federal agents were arresting Mormon polygamists and sending them to prison, lying and other forms of deception to protect them from apprehension were expected and applauded by the Mormon community. President Wilford Woodruff's Manifesto in 1890 publicly announced that the church leader "advised" the members to abide by the law. However, Charles W. Penrose claimed authorship of the Manifesto and asserted that it was written to satisfy the federal government and was not taken seriously by the Mormon hierarchy. 51 It is certain that plural *° T h e Mountain Meadow Massacre is another indication of the relative normlessness that existed in the Mormon subculture at that time. Durkheim's description of anomie as a state where the limits between the possible and impossible, just and unjust, are unclear appears especially true of this incident. 51 Minutes of the Trial of Matthias F. Cowley for violation of the Manifesto, April 27, 1911, Western Americana, Marriott Library, University of U t a h , Salt Lake City. Penrose later became a member of the First Presidency.






marriages were approved and performed by church leaders in Mexico and elsewhere until the second manifesto in 1904. T h e fundamentalists, who have continued the practice of polygamy to the present, base their activity on the belief that L D S church leaders made secret ordinations in order to guarantee the continuance of the practice. In anomie circumstances, if the only voice of possible regulation is muted or ambivalent, a fluid marriage system may be expected. Given such circumstances, perhaps the number of marriage failures and divorces among Mormon polygamists should not be suprising, but the fact that so many succeeded in developing happy marriage relationships and producing fine families should command both wonder and respect.

Beyond the Manifesto: Polygamous Cohabitation among LDS General Authorities after 1890 BY K E N N E T H


Above: The General Authorities of the LDS church, 1898-1901. State Historical Society collections. JLVLORMONS BELIEVED POLYGAMY


to be a divine commandment, and they

taught and practiced it for a half-century. Following Wilford WoodMr. Cannon is a senior majoring in history at Brigham Young University.


the Manifesto


ruff's Manifesto of 1890, church members experienced a difficult transition period as they were forced to abandon the principle of polygamy in practice, if not technically in doctrine. T h e Manifesto, originally intended to demonstrate church adherence only to certain aspects of the antipolygamy laws, was later interpreted to include full compliance with all such laws. Later, church leaders petitioned for amnesty that resulted in the granting of pardon to all who would follow the laws. Despite these measures, many church members, including several of the First Presidency and Q u o r u m of Twelve Apostles, failed to comply readily and fully with the antipolygamy laws. T h e complexities of this transitional period can best be understood by tracing the steps involved in the actual termination of polygamy among members of the Mormon church, by analyzing the failure of the church hierarchy to comply with the law and the subsequent justification of their actions, and by observing the effect of this disobedience upon relations between the church and the national government. Conclusions drawn from such a study will aid in understanding the intricacies of this period in Mormon church history. Of necessity, the scope of this paper has been strictly limited to the continuation of polygamous relationships by General Authorities of the Mormon church after the Manifesto of 1890. As such, it gives a delimited view of post-Manifesto polygamy that specifically ignores the subject of new plural marriages contracted between 1890 and 1904. T h e author sees the topic of such new marriages as one requiring extensive research to document and has therefore narrowly circumscribed his topic. Between 1862 and 1887 several antibigamy laws were passed by the federal government, aimed primarily at terminating the practice of polygamy among members of the Mormon church. 1 These laws grew out of the general antipolygamy sentiments of the time. T h e Republican party platform of 1856 included a plank against polygamy, stating that " I t is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism—polygamy and slavery."^ Each succeeding antibigamy act resulted in more specific definitions of polygamy and unlawful cohabitation and increased punishments for those convicted of polygamy; in 1882 Mormon polygamists were disfranchised and in 1887 the Mormon church was disincorporated. T h e church believed that its members had a constitutional right to 1 T h e most important antipolygamy laws were: the Morrill Act of 1862, the Poland Act of 1874, the Edmunds Act of 1882,'and the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887. 2 Kimball Young, Isn't One Wife Enough? (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1954), p. 1.


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practice polygamy as a part of their religious freedom. However, in 1879, the Supreme Court ruled against such a contention in Reynolds v. United States: So here, as a law of the organization of society u n d e r the exclusive dominion of the U n i t e d States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed. C a n a m a n excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious beliefs? T o permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law u n t o himself. Government could exist only in n a m e u n d e r such conditions. 3

I n spite of this decision church members continued to practice polygamy, believing it to be a divine principle initiated by the Almighty and subject to suspension only through divine sanction. Few Mormons were prosecuted for polygamy after the enactment of the first major antibigamy law in 1862, but with the passage of the Edmunds Act of 1882, prosecutions increased dramatically. 4 T h e Edmunds law defined unlawful cohabitation narrowly and precisely, making prosecution and conviction of polygamists much simpler. According to B. H. Roberts, "Nothing but absolute abandonment [of plural wives and families] could meet the requirements of the law as the federal courts interpreted it." 5 M a n y church members were forced into hiding to avoid prosecution for practicing polygamy. Because of these problems, sentiment for changing the church's position on polygamy emerged and grew. Wilford Woodruff, looking back at this period of time, stated: T h e sentiment of the whole nation as well as the laws were against it [polygamy], and I will say for myself that I became thoroughly convinced that this practice would have to be changed. W h e n I was appointed President of the C h u r c h I looked this question over, and for a good while became satisfied in my own m i n d that plural marriage must stop in this C h u r c h . It was not we w h o had practiced it only who were suffering, b u t a large proportion of people w h o had not entered into it. After I became President of the C h u r c h I did not advocate the practice of this principle a m o n g our people, for that was what I saw before me. G

T h e M o r m o n church's official position on polygamy changed on September 26, 1890, when President Woodruff issued a statement that has come to be known as the Woodruff Manifesto. In this declaration, Woodruff denied that the principle of polygamy had been taught in the 3

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 166-67. B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century 1, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 6 : 1 1 2 - 2 1 , 210-13. 5 Ibid., 6:114. 8 Deseret Weekly News, October 24, 1891. 4


the Manifesto


church during the previous year, and stated that plural marriages had not been solemnized in U t a h in the same period. H e further declared: I n a s m u c h as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the C h u r c h over which I preside to have them do likewise. T h e r e is nothing in my teachings to the C h u r c h or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can reasonably be construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy, and when any Elder of the C h u r c h has used language which appeared to convey such teaching he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land. 7

Written in rather general language and terms, the Manifesto implied no apparent disciplinary action against those continuing to contract polygamous marriages. In addition, no advice or counsel was given concerning whether or not those who already had plural wives should continue to live with them. In fact, Woodruff, in a meeting with members of the Q u o r u m of the Twelve shortly after the issuance of the Manifesto, indicated that "This manifesto only refers to future marriages, and does not affect past conditions. I did not, could not, and would not promise that you would desert your wives and children. This you cannot do in honor." 8 However, just over a year after issuance of the Manifesto, in a hearing before Judge C. F. Loofbourow, the master of chancery, Woodruff and other church officials seemingly contradicted that position when they were cross-examined by U.S. Attorney C. S. Varian. V a r i a n : You mean to include the laws, then, forbidding association in plural marriages as well as the forming of plural marriages? Woodruff: Whatever there is in the law of the land with regard to it. V a r i a n : In the concluding portion of your declaration, or statement, you say: " I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." D o you understand that that language was to be expanded, and include the further statement of living or associating in plural marriage by those already in the status? Woodruff: I intended the proclamation to cover the laws of the land entirely. 9 7 H

Ibid., October 4, 1890.

Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, October 1, 1890, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo. " Deseret Weekly News, October 24, 1891.


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Lorenzo Snowr and Joseph F. Smith both made similar statements during the hearing. When asked about possible action against those failing to follow the Manifesto's counsel, Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith all agreed that such disobedience would be subject to discipline and possibly even excommunication. 10 In a similar statement made later in 1891, the First Presidency and the Q u o r u m of the Twelve submitted a plea for amnesty to the president of the United States, Benjamin Harrison. T h e plea described the church members' belief that the principle of polygamy came directly from God; it recounted the persecutions that members of the church had undergone because of their belief in this principle; and it explained that God had subsequently granted them permission to suspend the practice of polygamy, wrhich change the church members had readily endorsed. T h e statement continued: This being the true situation, and believing that the object of the Government was simply the vindication of its own authority and to compel obedience to its laws, and that it takes no pleasure in persecution, we respectfully pray that full amnesty may be extended to all w h o are under disabilities because of the operation of the so-called E d m u n d s - T u c k e r law. O u r people are scattered, homes are m a d e desolate, m a n y are still imprisoned, others are banished or in hiding. O u r hearts bleed for these. I n the past they followed our counsels, and while they are thus afflicted our souls are in sackcloth and ashes. We believe t h a t there is nowhere in the Union a more loyal people than the Latter-day Saints. . . . T o be at peace with the Government and in h a r m o n y with their fellow-citizens w h o are not of their faith, and to share in the confidence of the Government and people, our people have voluntarily put aside something which all their lives they have believed to be a sacred principle. H a v e they not the right to ask for such clemency as comes when the claims of both law and justice have been fully liquidated? As shepherds of a patient and suffering people we ask amnesty for t h e m and pledge our faith and honor for their future. 1 1

In response to this petition President Harrison issued an amnesty proclamation on January 4, 1893. Citing the antibigamy laws, the petition, the report of the U t a h Commission, and the pardon previously 10 11


Proceedings Before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the U.S. Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the Right of Hon. Reed Smoot. a Senator from the State of Utah to Hold his Seat, 4 vols, (Washingon, D . C . : U.S. Government Printing Office, 19041906), 1:18-19.

Beyond the Manifesto


granted to some individuals guilty of illegal cohabitation, President Harrison granted: . . . a full amnesty and p a r d o n to all persons liable to the penalties of said act by reason of unlawful cohabitation u n d e r the color of polygamous or plural marriage, w h o have, since November 1, 1890, abstained from such unlawful cohabitation; but upon the express condition that they shall in the future faithfully obey the laws of the United States hereinbefore named, and not otherwise. Those w h o shall fail to avail themselves of the clemency hereby offered will be vigorously prosecuted. 1 2

Thus a conditional amnesty was granted, establishing a trust between the church and the government. The proclamation was issued on the condition that the laws were to be obeyed fully. The question of whether the General Authorities, who all signed the amnesty petition, abided by this condition is important because they represented the Mormon church in the confidence established between the church and the government. Certain evidence exists that not all church officials actually obeyed the terms of the amnesty agreement. In his personal journal, Abraham H. Cannon, one of the Twelve Apostles, recorded statements made by General Authorities during their quorum meetings shortly after the issuing of the Manifesto. Most of the brethren openly voiced their support of the Manifesto while vowing to continue living with all of their wives. A statement by Francis M. Lyman is typical of the sentiments expressed by many of the General Authorities: "I endorse the Manifesto, and feel it will do good. I design to live with and have children by my wives, using the wisdom which God gives me to avoid being captured by the officers of the law."13 In a journal entry dated October 2, 1890, Abraham H. Cannon confided: "Now if we could convince leading men of the nation that it is the bona fide intention of the people to have no more plural marriages in conflict with laws, it would no doubt bring some concessions on the part of the government towards those who have already entered into the plural relation."14 John W. Taylor apparently had the hardest time accepting the Manifesto because he was convinced "it was an eternal and unchangeable law."15 In compiling the data to determine whether or not unlawful cohabitation was practiced by members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as gauged by children born to plural wives of the 12

Ibid., 1:19. Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, September 30, 1890. 14 Ibid., October 2, 1890. " I b i d . , September 30, 1890. 13


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men between 1890 and 1905, 1 ' I have delineated four groups. Only the names of those children who were born during the time period when their fathers served as members of the First Presidency or as apostles have been recorded in this study. 17 Of the four groups of General Authorities, three are irrelevant to this study because it is difficult to document unlawful cohabitation among them. These groups include those who were monogamous, those who had no children after 1890, and those who had only one wife of reasonable child-bearing age and, therefore, had children by only one wife. Since these latter men had children by only one wife during the specified time period, it is difficult to determine whether or not they were living illegally with their other wives. T h e fourth group, the most important category in this analysis, consists of those brethren who had children by plural wives a n d / o r were convicted of unlawful cohabitation between 1890 and 1905. T h e monogamists were Rudger Clawson, who had been a polygamist, but was subsequently divorced from his first wife in 1885, 18 Anthon H. Lund, George Albert Smith, and H y r u m Mack Smith. Interestingly, only Anthon H. Lund was ordained to the Q u o r u m of the Twelve before the Manifesto of 1890. Those having no children after 1890 were Charles W. Penrose, Franklin D. Richards, John R. Winder, and Wilford Woodruff. Moses T h a t c h e r is also assigned to this group because his wives bore no children between 1890 and 1896, when he was released from the Q u o r u m of Twelve. Those General Authorities with plural wives only one of whom was of a reasonable childbearing age were George Q. Cannon and Francis M. Lyman. A substantial majority of the General Authorities (61 percent) comprise the fourth category, those who were guilty of illegally cohabitating with plural wives. Those in this group who had children by more than one wife include the following: A b r a h a m H. Cannon, Matthias F. CowM Because of the multiplicity of sources consulted to obtain this d a t a and the impracticality of listing all separately, I have grouped the sources together in this one footnote: Family group sheets, Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City; Susa Young Gates and Mabel Young Sanborn. "Brigham Young Genealogy," Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 12 (April 1 9 2 1 ) : 9 4 - 9 6 ; Joseph Merrill, Descendants of Marriner Wood Merrill (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1938), pp. 15, 77, 127, 173, 205, 2 1 3 ; A. A. Ramseyer, "Descendants of Richard Snow of Woburn, Massachusetts." Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 2 (October 1911) : 150-54; "Richard Richards and Some of his Descendants," Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 1 (July 1910) : 113-14. 17 T o determine dates of ordination to office and possible resignation or expulsion from office, I have consulted Joseph F. Smith, Essentials in Church History, 26th ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1973), pp. 574-89. ia Dennis Michael Q u i n n . "Organizational Development and Social Origins of the Mormon Hierarchy, 1832-1932: A Prosopographical Study" (M.A. thesis, University of U t a h 1973) p. 252.





Home of LDS Apostle Anthony W. Ivins in Colonia Juarez, Mexico. Some Mormon polygamists settled in Mexico to avoid prosecution. Utah State Historical Society collections.

ley, Marriner W. Merrill, John Henry Smith, Joseph F. Smith, John W. Taylor, A b r a h a m Owen Woodruff, and Brigham Young, Jr. George Teasdale had only one child born after 1890, but it was born in Mexico in 1898 to a plural wife he married after the Manifesto. 19 Minnie Jensen, a plural wife of Lorenzo Snow, bore him his only post-Manifesto child in 1896 in Canada. It is very evident that both of these births constitute a proof of unlawful cohabitation, although neither man had children by another wife after 1890. Heber J. Grant, the last General Authority in this category, had children by only one wife after 1890, but pled guilty to a charge of unlawful cohabitation in 1899 and was fined $100. 2 " T h e eleven General Authorities guilty of unlawful cohabitation in the years 1890-1905 had a total of twenty-seven wives bearing children and seventy-six children. These figures illustrate a high disregard for the illegal cohabitation clauses of the antibigamy acts by a majority of those who m a d e up the highest echelon of the church hierarchy during the time period 1890-1905. In addition, of the eleven men who comprised this group, only Matthias F. Cowley and A b r a h a m Owen Wood" Salt Lake Tribune, April 19, 1899. " Ibid., September 9, 1899.


Utah Historical


ruff did not sign the amnesty plea of 1891. According to statements by Joseph F. Smith and Reed Smoot in 1904, all of the members of the First Presidency and Q u o r u m of the Twelve signed the plea, 21 but Matthias Cowley and A b r a h a m Owen Woodruff were not ordained apostles until 1897. Certainly all of the General Authorities knew that plural cohabitation was against the law of the land as well as contrary to the church's Manifesto, and several expressed this. 22 Given their knowledge they apparently felt a need to justify breaking the law. T h e explanation John Henry Smith and Joseph F. Smith provided before the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections during the Smoot investigation was that they desired to continue supporting their families and also felt that whatever God had approved of could not be altered by any law of man. T h e following dialogue between John Henry Smith and Robert W. Tayler, an attorney representing those against Reed Smoot's Senate seating, is from the transcript of the Smoot investigation and illustrates Smith's understanding of the laws and his reason for breaking t h e m : Tayler: D o you remember the interpretation p u t upon it [the Manifesto] by Wilford Woodruff and other leaders of the c h u r c h ? S m i t h : Yes, sir. Tayler: And the testimony of Joseph F. Smith respecting the meaning of the manifesto? S m i t h : Yes, sir. Tayler: Its application as well to polygamous cohabitation as to entering into new polygamous relations? S m i t h : Yes, sir. Tayler: You subscribe to their view of it, do you? S m i t h : Yes, sir. Tayler: But deny it in practice? S m i t h : My position in regard to this, Mr. Tayler, is simply this, that nobody could take from me my family: that I was responsible to God myself, a n d that I must take the consequences of my countrymen punishing me if they saw fit to do so. T h a t has been my position in regard to the matter. 2 3

President Joseph F. Smith defended his action in this way: 21

Committee on Privileges and Elections " I b i d . , 1:129-30, 2 : 3 1 1 - 1 2 . 2:1 Ibid., 2 : 2 8 5 - 8 6 .

in the Matter

of Reed Smoot,


Beyond the Manifesto


But I was placed in this position. I had a plural family, if you please; that is, my first wife was married to me thirty-eight years ago, my last wife was married to me over twenty years ago, and with these wives I had children, and I simply took my chances, preferring to meet the consequences of the law rather than a b a n d o n my children and their mothers; and I have cohabited with my wives—not openly, that is, not in a m a n n e r that I thought would be offensive to my neighbors—but I have acknowledged t h e m ; I have visited them. 2 4

Since public sentiment condoned continued polygamous relationships, the fear of possible consequences of breaking the laws was lessened for many Mormons. Public outcry for prosecution had subsided and public sentiment had shifted; it was virtually impossible to prosecute anyone for illegal cohabitation, except in flagrant cases.25 President Joseph F. Smith expressed such an idea: Since the admission of the state there has been a sentiment existing and prevalent in U t a h that these old marriages would be in a measure condoned. T h e y were not looked upon as offensive, as really violative of law; they were, in other words, regarded as an existing fact, and if they saw any wrong in it they simply winked at it. In other words, M r . Chairm a n , the people of U t a h , as a rule, as well as the people of this nation, are broad-minded and liberal-minded people, and they have rather condoned than otherwise, I presume, my offense against the law. I have never been disturbed. Nobody has ever called me in question, t h a t I know of, and if I had, I was there to answer to the charges or any charge that might have been m a d e against me. . . .2,;

However, public outcry again arose against the Mormons in the two years when the question of Reed Smoot's Senate seating was before the Committee on Privileges and Elections. Sensationalistic press coverage of those aspects of the hearing derogatory to the church once again brought the issue before the national public and aroused negative sentiment.27 This renewed public outrage caused church president Joseph F. Smith to issue a second manifesto in the April General Conference of 1904. He stated that no plural marriages had "been solemnized with the sanction, consent, or knowledge of the Church [since the Manifesto of 1890]," and continued by announcing "that all such marriages are prohibited, and if any officer or member of the Church shall assume to solemnize or enter into any such marriage he will be deemed in trans21

Ibid., 1:129-30. Ibid., 4 : 5 0 2 - 0 4 . 26 Ibid., 1:130. 27 Roberts, Comprehensive 25

History of the Church,



Utah Historical


gression against the Church, and will be liable to be dealt with according to the rules and regulations thereof and excommunicated therefrom." 28 This manifesto, like the more famous Manifesto of 1890, does not specifically discuss continuance of plural marriage relationships. Nor was it the intent of this statement to halt cohabitation, as evidenced by the fact that Joseph F. Smith, issuer of the statement, pled guilty to a charge of unlawful cohabitation in 1906 and was fined $300.29 It did, however, promise stronger disciplinary action against those guilty of entering into new polygamous marriages. When John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley were forced to resign from the apostolate in 1905, B. H. Roberts maintained that this resulted from their disobedience to the stand against new polygamous marriages, rather than their continued participation in such marriages previously solemnized. Both were subsequently further disciplined by the church. 30 From my research, I have formulated several conclusions about the church's official position and actual practice concerning polygamy. Until the time of the Woodruff Manifesto, the official church stand on polygamy was that its members could live in polygamous relations since they were sanctioned by God and not against the rule of the church. As the antibigamy laws became more severe and as antipolygamy sentiment increased, great pressure was exerted on President Woodruff to take some action to relieve the intense persecution of the Saints caused by their practice of polygamy. In accord with this the Manifesto was issued. The original intent of the Manifesto, as evidenced by statements of President Woodruff and other church leaders, was to prevent additional plural marriages, but it did not prohibit the continuance of relations between those married in polygamy prior to the Manifesto. The General Authorities hoped that this statement would soften public sentiment toward church members and thereby allow them to continue living in unlawful cohabitation without fear of persecution. Undoubtedly the Manifesto accomplished this goal to some extent, but many people questioned the general terms of the Manifesto. Such uncertainty finally resulted in an investigation before the master of chancery. The hearing before the master of chancery presented church leaders with a very difficult situation because they realized they could not admit or profess to teach disobedience to national laws. President Woodruff in 28 Seventy-fourth Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1904), p. 76. 29 Deseret News, November 23, 1906. ;| " Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 6:402.




the Manifesto


his official position had to state the intention of his Manifesto as urging obedience to the antipolygamy laws. T h e Manifesto had been adopted as the rule of the church; those breaking the laws in any way could not claim support of the church in their actions. Fearing continued persecution and prosecution of polygamists, and hoping to ensure freedom from such fear, church leaders requested a blanket amnesty from the president of the United States. But in this plea for pardon, a breach of confidence seems to have occurred. Several apostles did not abide by President Harrison's conditional amnesty requiring all Mormons to obey the laws fully. From the government's point of view, a definite mistrust was created by the church leaders' failure to do so. From a Mormon perspective the situation was more complex. Repeatedly, leaders separated their roles as church spokesmen and as individual church members. As church leaders, they performed certain tasks for the benefit of the church, but as individuals they felt they had the right to obey what they deemed to be a higher law or they were willing to accept the consequences of their failure to follow the secular laws. Thus the plea for amnesty and the amnesty proclamation were viewed as agreements between two institutions, the government and the church. As church leaders, they entered into the agreements, but as individuals before God, not as representatives of the church itself, they broke the law of the land. In justification of their disobedience of the laws, various General Authorities contended that they could not desert their wives to whom they believed they had been sealed in eternal marriage by divine sanction. In essence, they elected to follow a divine law that obligated them to support their wives and families, over a secular law that denied their right to have more than one wife and to legitimatize the children born to their plural wives. Because there was little or no prosecution after 1893 for failure to comply with the cohabitation laws, these men could easily make the decision to continue living with their several wives, and the accumulated statistics indicate that they did so. By 1904, when the second manifesto was issued, the number of people practicing polygamy had begun to decline. T h e church adopted a somew r hat stricter stance toward plural marriage, and most church members refrained from entering into new polygamous marriages. Those who continued to enter into new plural marriages, firmly believing polygamy to be an eternal and unchangeable principle, were cut off from the church. In practice, at least, the church's position on polygamy changed.


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Those who had taken plural wives before the Manifesto grew too old to have children, and the old question of unlawful cohabitation became a historical subject. Members of the church went through a difficult period of psychological transition as they were coerced into ceasing to practice polygamy. After church members had been taught to believe in and to practice polygamy as a divine principle, its practice was stopped by divine sanction, due largely to legal pressure from a secular government. T h e transition was painful, resulting in many members' excommunication from the church and others' leaving the United States in order to continue practicing polygamy. Some of the ramifications of polygamy, such as the continued practice of the principle by certain apostate groups, remain to the present day. T h e church's position on polygamy changed slowly and gradually. After 1890 its official position was forced to coincide with the antipolygamy laws, but the actual practice of the church leaders failed to coincide with the established laws. Many General Authorities continued living with, and fathering children by, their plural wives, thereby breaking the laws against polygamous cohabitation. Through a process of federal investigation, increased societal pressure, and stricter church disciplinary sanction, the church leaders and members finally complied not only officially but also factually with the country's antipolygamy laws.

J. Cecil Alter, Founding Editor of Utah Historical Quarterly BY MIRIAM B. M U R P H Y

Above: /. Cecil Alter from Utah, the Storied Domain.

January 1928, the first number of Utah Historical Quarterly was issued. In retrospect, the new periodical's chances of survival were slim indeed. Its publisher, the Utah State Historical Society, suffered a chronic lack of funds, a situation that would worsen during the depression years ahead. And the editor and his associates had full-time occupations outside the Society. Against the odds, editor J. Cecil Alter . T I F T Y YEARS AGO, IN

Ms. Murphy is associate editor of Utah Historical



Utah Historical


kept the Quarterly alive into the mid-1940s despite crises that included the brief suspension of the magazine for financial reasons and his own move to another state. Although Alter had strong support and help from the Society's Board of Control, the success of the journal during its formative years must be credited in large measure to the editor's hard work, natural ability, enthusiasm, and tenacity. A m a n of many talents and broad experience, Alter was born March 31, 1879, on a farm near Rensselaer, Indiana, a son of John E. and Hattie McColly Alter. His father pursued many occupations: farmer, civil engineer, county surveyor and drainage commissioner, and schoolteacher. Young Cecil also displayed versatility. In addition to trying out a number of his father's occupations, he shipped out as a deckhand on a Great Lakes steamer and managed a mine in Minnesota. After attending Valparaiso University, Northern Indiana Teachers Institute, and Purdue, Alter settled upon meteorology as a career, joining the U.S. Weather Bureau in 1902. One of his first assignments took him to Salt Lake City where he married Jennie O. Greene in 1904. They had three sons: J. Winston, E. Irving, and Marvin S. In 1917 Alter was given charge of the Weather Bureau station in Salt Lake City. Alter's varied talents came to full flower during his U t a h years. H e designed a precipitation gauge that became standard equipment for all U.S. Weather Bureau stations, and he "originated the mountain snow survey system." As the weatherman "his name was almost a household world." (Local columnists liked to make puns, pleading with Mr. J. Cecil to alter the weather.) In addition to his official Weather Bureau duties, Alter served as chairman of the U t a h State Parks Commission during 1920-24; was an active Mason, Christian Scientist, and member of the U t a h Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters; and wrote two local newspaper columns: "Tribune Travelogs" in the 1920s and " I n the Beginning," a historical series on Salt Lake City and U t a h that ran in the Telegram in the 1930s.1 A true devotee of his adopted state, Alter did extensive research and writing on local topics. This hobby became almost an obsession, leading him to turn down several job advancements that required relocation and to write articles and books on a wide range of subjects. One of his earliest 1 Biographical data on Alter can be found in box 1, file 1, of the J. Cecil Alter Collection in the U t a h State Historical Society library. Salt Lake City. T h e collection consists of five document cases containing personal items, including correspondence; old weather records; manuscripts and other material pertaining to Alter's two newspaper series, Early Utah Journalism, and Jim Bridger; and miscellaneous notes. Additional data are in the J. Cecil Alter clipping file at the Historical Society.

/ . Cecil Alter


productions was a pamphlet, Trouting at Fish Lake, followed by a string of articles for the L D S church's Improvement Era on alfalfa seed, dinosaurs, cliff dwellers, and Bryce Canyon. His first major book, Jim Bridger, Trapper, Frontiersman, Scout, and Guide: A Historical Narrative, was published in 1925. T w o years later, Through the Heart of the Scenic West was issued. A three-volume work, Utah, the Storied Domain, came out in 1932. By this time, Alter was deeply committed to U t a h history and was serving as a member of the Historical Society's Board of Control and as editor of Utah Historical Quarterly. His formal association with the Society began in 1927 when he became secretary-treasurer of the board. T h e timing was fortuitous. For some time the board had wanted to publish. In 1920 Andrew Jenson, president of the Society, had reported that "we are taking steps to publish a historical magazine (to be issued quarterly), the first number of which will be issued early in 1921." T h e board's plans called for publishing original documents. To that end they had obtained permission to print portions of Wilford Woodruff's 1847 diary. T h e manuscript had been edited and was ready for the printer. "With a periodical at our comm a n d , " Jenson said, "we shall be able (by exchanging for literature of other historical societies) to secure valuable works for our library.'" However, funds from the legislature were not forthcoming, and plans for the quarterly magazine were suspended. Not until the presidency of Albert F. Philips was the Society able to move ahead in publishing. At its meeting on June 18, 1927, the board confirmed Alter's position as secretary-treasurer and also named him editor-in-chief of Utah Historical Quarterly. T h e other board members were to serve as associate editors. T h e first issue of the new publication was scheduled to appear in January 1928. T h e board ordered 1,000 copies printed in large, boldface type on quality paper. 3 T h e initial thirty-two-page number contained two articles: "Indian Names in U t a h Geography" by W'illiam R. Palmer, who would become a board member in 1929, and "Some Useful Early U t a h Indian References" by editor J. Cecil Alter. Philips penned a welcome to readers, and 2 State of U t a h , Report of the Utah State Historical Society for the Biennium, 19191920 (Salt Lake City, [1921]), p. 7. T h e Society had already received funds to publish a history of Utah's participation in World War I by Andrew Love Neff, but the project stalled and was completed by others. See ibid., pp. 5 - 6 ; subsequent biennial reports; and Glen M. Leonard, " T h e U t a h State Historical Society, 1897-1972," Utah Historical Quarterly 40 (1972) : 304 n. : ' " U t a h State Historical Society Minutes." book 2, pp. 3-4, U t a h State Historical Society library.


Utah Historical


the remaining pages listed board members and excerpts from the 1897 articles of incorporation. Alter mailed copies of the first issue to high school and county superintendents and college history teachers. T h e first six volumes of Utah Historical Quarterly, 1928 through 1933, comprise a unit. Almost one-third of the articles were on Indian subjects. Military matters, reminiscences, Mormon Battalion journals, and pioneer settlement made up about half of the contents. T h e remainder of the twenty-four issues was filled with articles on diverse topics such as exploration, industry, fossils, travel, and slavery. One book review was published during the first six years. About 18 percent of the material was written by members of the Board of Control. Alter authored six entries; Palmer five; and William J. Snow, Parley L. Williams, and Albert F. Philips one each. Beginning in April 1928 every issue contained at least one illustration, either a photograph or map. T h e first six volumes were later bound together. From the beginning, Alter's dealings with authors illustrate his firm grasp of the editorial reins. For example, he made detailed suggestions to William Palmer concerning his initial contribution to the Quarterly. In response Palmer wrote: " T h e more lengthy addition to 'Utah's Indians Past and Present' is all your fault. You sent me a long list of tribes and asked me to explain them away . . . perhaps I have taken too much space. . . . Put it in or leave it out as you wish." 4 In submitting a piece on Black Hawk, journalist Josiah F. Gibbs asked Alter to subject it to the "severest criticism" to make it read more smoothly, changing words and transposing sentences or paragraphs where necessary. "Do not spare it," Gibbs urged." Alter must have revamped it considerably, for in returning the manuscript to Gibbs for approval, he noted that the author might "not recognize it in spots.'"5 Gibbs apparently liked Alter's editing, as the piece appeared in the Quarterly soon aftenvard. Alter accomplished most of the business of producing the Quarterly at home during his free time. At board meetings he advised his associate editors of the material on hand for forthcoming issues and occasionally solicited their advice or assistance, but the editor was clearly in charge of the publication. Alter's responsibilities increased rapidly. By April 1931 he was secretary-treasurer, librarian, and curator of the Society in addition to editor-in-chief. In recognition of his many duties the board voted 4 Palmer to Alter, December 7, 1929, William R. Palmer manuscript file, U t a h State Historical Society library. 3 Gibbs to Alter, December 4, 1929, Alter Collection, box 1, file 1. 0 Alter to Gibbs. April 16, 1931, Alter Collection.

]. Cecil Alter


to pay him $100.00 a month beginning in April 1931. Although the sum was called a "salary," it was more like an allowance since it was expected to cover expenses "not provided for in appropriations for properly conducting the Society's business."' By 1933 the depression was seriously affecting state spending. T h e Society's appropriation was reduced, and Alter's stipend was cut to $30.00 a month as of July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year. T h e board even canceled its October meeting in order to conserve funds so that the remaining 1933 issues of the Quarterly could be published. T h e October 1933 Quarterly carried a formal suspension notice to members and expressed hope that sales and dues would generate funds for publishing. T h e board hoped to issue an annual monograph until the Quarterly could be resumed. 8 T h e monograph idea was not new. As early as April 1931 board president William J. Snow had asked if a full list of U t a h newspapers could be published. Then, at its October 7, 1931, meeting the board's Printing and Publication Committee recommended that any extra monies be used to fund several monographs, the first to be a history of U t a h newspaper journalism. A year later the board devoted most of its meeting to the monograph, and Alter "reported some progress on the work." H e did not deliver the manuscript until May 28, 1937. Finally, in 1938, seven years after Snow had suggested the project, Early Utah Journalism, a 405-page book, was published. Herbert S. Auerbach, who h a d become board president in 1936, called it "a monumental work" and praised Alter for the "tremendous amount of time and energy" he had given to it. One board meeting ended with all of the members autographing one another's copies. 9 T h e board h a d good reason to be elated. Not only had the longawaited monograph been published, but 1939 would see the resumption of Utah Historical Quarterly. Sales of bound volumes 1 through 6 of the Quarterly and of Early Utah Journalism were fairly brisk, generating much-needed revenue, and the legislature had appropriated $5,000 for the Society for the biennium beginning July 1, 1939.10 7

"Minutes," April 4, 1931, book 2, pp. 18-19. Albert F. Philips, retiring board president, had been librarian and curator of the Society's holdings. See "Minutes," June 18, 1927, book 2, p. 3. 8 " M i n u t e s " April 8, 1933, book 2, p. 29, and April 7, 1934, book 2, p. 31. In the Society's straitened circumstances, the board gave Alter " 'dictatorial' powers to do as he found possible and practicable, with the assurance that such action would be approved. . . . "See "Minutes," book 2, pp. 22, 27, 31, 44, 46, 4 8 - 5 0 , 55, 5 6 - 5 7 , 59-62 for details of the production of Early Utah Journalism. 111 "Minutes" April 8, 1939, book 2, pp. 65, 69-70, 71.


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T h e first three numbers of volume 7 of the Quarterly were combined in order to publish the diary of Almon Harris Thompson, astronomer and topographer with the second Powell expedition. T h e fourth number was devoted to the United O r d e r of Orderville. T h e resurgent Quarterly retained much of its former appearance, but it contained many more pages than the earlier volumes. In addition to his editorial duties, Alter continued to produce material to be published in the Quarterly as did other members of the board. Volume 9 contained two articles by Alter, two by Herbert S. Auerbach, two by William J. Snow, and one by William R. Palmer; volume 10 two contributions each by Alter and Palmer; and one by Alter in volume 12. T h e final two major projects with which Alter was intimately involved were the publication of the Escalante journal edited by Auerbach and Albert Tracy's journal edited by Auerbach and Alter. Interest in early Spanish exploration of U t a h surfaced in volume 1 of the Quarterly with Alter's compilation "Father Escalante a n d the U t a h Indians" which was carried through four issues a n d into volume 2. T h e n in volume 9, Alter and Auerbach published three more pieces of the Escalante story. These articles set the stage for the publication of the entire Escalante journal in 1943 as volume 11 of the Quarterly. Auerbach seemed obsessed by Escalante. I n 1942 he located a manuscript copy of the journal in the Newberry Library in Chicago. However, the library could not give Auerbach permission to photostat it because years earlier they h a d given historian Herbert E. Bolton permission to publish it. Auerbach was dismayed by "the whole discovery of the original manuscript and the manner in which it is tied up so that only Dr. Bolton can reproduce it." 11 Despite this setback, Auerbach located another copy of the journal in Mexico City. Alter commented: "Your usual . . . instincts . . . have prevailed again in the remarkable find of Father Escalante's original journal. I could not be more surprised if you wound u p with the doughty Father's robe made into a p u p tent." 12 Alter liked the idea of an English translation of the journal, but realizing, as all editors do, that once something is in print it is beyond recall, he cautioned: . . . T h e only trouble with a translation is t h a t Bolton et al can always criticise the translation, just as they did D e a n H a r r i s ' work. A n d 11 Auerbach to Alter, March 25, 1942, Herbert S. Auerbach Collection, box 1 file 1 Utah State Historical Society. 12 Alter to Auerbach, March 27, 1942. Auerbach Collection. Alter's letters in this collection are uncorrected carbon copies. In quoting from them I have added missing punctuation.

J. Cecil Alter


Spanish authorities are a m o n g the worst of that type . . . they N E V E R agree with anyone else! But if your translator compares Harris, and puts a m o d e r n test on every doubtful word, and footnotes the ancient and probable meanings and so forth, you should have a tip top j o b . "

As the project progressed, Alter reviewed the translation and continued to ask the kind of questions good editors ask authors and to offer the kind of suggestions authors expect from editors. Was this the only print? O r was it published at another time by some other agency? And does anyone know if the two agree? Did you w a n t to run a credit note, as to where you found this print, and something of its history, authenticity, date and place of publication, &c? Was the translation by you? We should show that, also. 11 I suggest you use one page of the original Spanish print, as an illustration, preferably from the U t a h Valley text. It can go anyplace, wherever the pasting will be easiest, say on the outside of a signature (of pages). 1 3

T h e death of Auerbach on March 19, 1945, ended a productive editorial partnership and left Alter to carry to completion the editing of Capt. Albert Tracy's Utah W a r journal. Auerbach had found the journal and accompanying drawings in the New York Public Library and had secured permission to photostat and publish them. Both Auerbach and Alter had spent time on the manuscript, and Auerbach had had engravings made of the Tracy drawings to accompany the text. T h e Reverend Robert J. Dwyer, who replaced Auerbach on the board, assisted Alter and Marguerite L. Sinclair with the final preparation of the journal for publication. 11 ' Although Alter remained a member of the Society's board until 1949 and was listed as a member of the editorial board, his active role as editor of Utah Historical Quarterly ended with the publication of the Tracy journal in 1945. Volume 13 was the last to bear his name as editor directly below the Quarterly masthead. A remarkable facet of Alter's tenure as editor of the Quarterly was the extent of his involvement in the total publication process. H e wrote material himself, he revised and polished the contributions of others, he corresponded with authors, he annotated and wrote introductions for primary materials, he consulted with printers, and he pro,:i

Alter to Auerbach, May 20, 1942, Auerbach Collection. Alter to Auerbach, July 6, 1943, Auerbach Collection. 13 Alter to Auerbach, August 31, 1943, Auerbach Collection. 1,1 "Minutes," September 4, 1945, book 2, pp. 143-44, 154, 157-58, 165. 11


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moted and sold the final product. That Alter could perform all of these functions so well, hold down a full-time job where he was known for his inventiveness, and carry out a full slate of other activities seems, in retrospect, astonishing. Alter was close to forty-nine years of age when the Quarterly was founded and seventy when his term on the board expired in 1949. Clearly, this was an unusually energetic and creative man. During the Quarterly's formative years, Alter wore several hats. He was secretary-treasurer of the board, librarian, historian, and curator in addition to editor. On April 30, 1936, he resigned all duties other than editor and historian. Flora Bean Home filled in as secretary for a year and a half. Then, in mid-1937, Marguerite L. Sinclair was hired as a full-time secretary-treasurer, librarian, and, eventually, manager of the Historical Society. The newr secretary freed board members from routine office duties and gave Alter a valuable assistant in the production of the Quarterly. When Alter accepted a new Weather Bureau assignment in Cincinnati in 1941, Miss Sinclair's many skills enabled him to continue as editor through 1945.17 Alter's friends held a farewell dinner for him at the Hotel Utah when he left for Ohio. Herbert S. Auerbach presided over the event which was billed as an old-time trapper rendezvous. Several short speeches were given, "but the gifts 'Jake' got were funnier than any speech. He received a rusty old b'ar trap, a couple of pelts, and the most outlandish piece of headgear I've ever seen." The Salt Lake Tribune reported the event and the Telegram editorialized on Utah's loss of a "good citizen."18 Twenty-three years later, on May 20, 1964, Alter died in Los Angeles. Utah mourned his loss. The Tribune said he had "won a firm place in the affections of the people of his adopted state." The Deseret News described him as a "scientist, historian, writer, inventor, administrator, conservationist—Cecil Alter was all of these and more."19 He was more. Utah Historical Quarterly was fortunate to have had J. Cecil Alter as its founding editor. His standard of excellence, his intelligence —appropriately spiced with curiosity, imagination, and wit—provided the journal with an invaluable legacy.


"Minutes," book 2, pp. 36-38, 4 0 - 4 3 , 111-12. Alter clipping file. 19 Ibid. 1S

Ambiguous Decision: ementation of Mormon Priesthood Denial for the Black ManA Reexamination BY N E W E L L G.


JL H E BLACK MAN WAS NOT always barred from priesthood offices within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In recent years a number of writers and scholars have uncovered evidence showing that Black Mormon males (albeit few in number) were ordained and allowed to exercise priesthood authority. 1 The most famous Black Mormon priesthood holder was undoubtedly Elijah Abel, an early member of the church ordained an elder in 1836 during the Mormon sojourn in Kirtland, Ohio. 2 That same year Abel was promoted to the office of seventy and listed in the official church newspaper as a "Minister of the Gospel." 3 After the church moved its headquarters to Nauvoo, Illinois, Abel beDr. Bringhurst is assistant professor of history at Indiana University at Kokomo. 1 The most scholarly work attesting to this fact is Lester E. Bush, Jr., "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 8 (Spring 1973) : 11-68. Much less reliable, but of interest, is Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormons and Negroes (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Company, 1970). A vitriolic anti-Mormon diatribe, it contains apparent copies of certain interesting documents showing that Black Mormons have been ordained to the priesthood. See pp. 11-12, 16. 2 Abel's status as a Mormon priesthood holder was so well known that it was even noted by Andrew Jenson, an assistant church historian, in his Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901-36), 3:577. More recently a brief biographical sketch of Abel was included in the "They Had a Dream" series on prominent American Blacks written by Reasons and Patrick under the title "Elijah Abel Reached Top Mormon Ranks." This series ran in newspapers throughout the United States during the early 1970s. a Latter Day Saints Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland, O.) June 1836; Bush, "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine," p. 17.


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came the town mortician and, according to various accounts, was "intimately acquainted" with Joseph Smith, living in the home of the Mormon prophet. 4 Following Smith's assassination in 1844, Abel cast his lot with Brigham Young and the Twelve. On one occasion, Abel defended Young and the Twelve. At an assembled conference of the church in Cincinnati, "Elder Elijah Able" [sic] was instrumental in securing the expulsion "from the church" of several individuals who spoke "disrespectfully of the heads of the church."" Abel subsequently migrated west in 1847 and was among the first to arrive in Mormonism's new center in the Great Basin. Here he lived for the remainder of his life, with the exception of a short period in 1883 when he traveled to the eastern United States and Canada on a mission for the church. Abel died that same year after his return to Utah with "full faith in the Gospel."6 Another "colored elder" during this period was Walker Lewis, a barber in Lowell, Massachusetts. Lewis apparently received his priesthood ordination at the hands of William Smith, a younger brother of the Mormon prophet.7 Various Mormon apostles visiting Lowell in 184445 did not question, or even consider extraordinary, Lewis's standing as a priesthood holder.8 One of these, Wilford Woodruff, merely observed that "a Coloured Brother who was an Elder," presumably Lewis, manifested his support for the established church leadership during this time of great internal division within Mormonism." In addition to Abel and 4 Kate B. Carter, comp., " T h e Negro Pioneer," Our Pioneer Heritage, 18 vols. (Salt Lake City: Daughters of U t a h Pioneers, 1 9 5 8 - ) , 8 : 1 5 ; Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, 3:577. It is unclear what Carter meant by "lived in the h o m e " of Joseph Smith. It seems unlikely that Abel resided with the Smith family itself. Probably Abel lived in the Nauvoo House, a hotel guest house run by the Smith family. 5 "Journal History," June 1, 1845, M S , Archives Division, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City. T h e spellings "Abel" and "Able" were used interchangeably throughout this period. This has caused certain defenders of the present practice of priesthood denial to claim that there were two Elijah Abels (or Abies) in the church at Nauvoo during the 1840s—one white and the other black—spelling their names differently. See Joseph Fielding Smith to Mrs. Floren S. Preece, January 18, 1955, S. George Ellsworth Papers, U t a h State University, Logan. "Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia. 3 : 5 7 1 ; Deseret News, December 26, 1884. 7 Appleby to Young, J u n e 2, 1847; also noted in William L. Appleby, "Journal," May 19. 1847, William L. Appleby Papers, LDS Archives. Through an error committed by the compilers of the "Journal History," the impression that Walker Lewis was a member of the Mormon branch at Batavia, New York, was created. See "Journal History," June 2, 1847. Such a false impression developed because Appleby's letter describing Walker Lewis was mailed to Brigham Young from Batavia. However, the contents of both this letter and Appleby's " J o u r n a l " show Lewis to be a resident of, and member of the church at, Lowell, Massachusetts. 8 See Woodruff to Young, November 16, 1844. Woodruff in his " J o u r n a l " during late 1844 and early 1845, made note of his numerous visits to Lowell and the areas around Lowell. Wilford Woodruff Papers, LDS Archives. Both Apostles Brigham Young and Ezra T. Benson visited these same areas during 1844-45 and reported nothing unusual in the ethnic or racial qualities of Mormon priesthood holders. "Woodruff to Young, November 16, 1844. According to Benson to Young, January 22, 1845, Ezra T. Benson Papers, LDS Archives, the particular difficulties in the Lowell Branch came about as a result of church finances and the collection of funds.

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Lewis, it is possible that other Black Mormons held the priesthood prior to the Mormon migration west.10 Less known to those interested in early Mormon-Black practices and attitudes is that Blacks were not "officially" barred from Latter-day Saint priesthood offices until after the Mormon migration and settlement of the Great Basin during the late 1840s. This fact has been borne out by the recent research of Lester E. Bush, Jr., which suggests that the first church pronouncement upholding Black priesthood denial was not issued until February 1849.11 Therefore, Brigham Young in the western setting of Utah, and not Joseph Smith responding to conditions in Missouri (or even in Illinois), issued the initial church prohibitions on Black priesthood ordination. The fact that Blacks were not denied the priesthood until that late date runs counter to earlier suggestions made by scholars such as Dennis L. Lythgoe, Stephen G. Taggart, and Fawn M. Brodie.12 Although Lester Bush has performed a great service in demonstrating that the Saints did not arrive at their decision to deny the Black man the priesthood until 1849, the central question of why church officials implemented the negative practice remains unanswered. This is the case despite the less than convincing efforts by Bush to prove that Black priesthood denial was primarily the product of certain racial concepts and prejudices promoted by Brigham Young and other church leaders following the death of Joseph Smith." Although Bush does not provide an adequate explanation of the origins of Black priesthood denial, his carefully researched and written account does bring to light a very significant 10

See below in the discussion about William McCary and his activities. Bush, "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine," pp. 25-28. Bush does suggest that "it may be . . . that a policy was in effect (during the 1830s) denying the priesthood to slaves or isolated free southern Negroes." He also postulates the "possibility . . . that a policy of priesthood restriction" was set forth in 1847 (pp. 17, 22, 56, 8 5 ) . However, I feel that Black priesthood denial was not implemented until 1849. I base this on a careful consideration of the evidence presented by Bush and a thorough examination of historical materials published both within and outside of the church during the 1830s and 1840s as well as accounts written after this period which recall earlier revelant developments. See Newell G. Bringhurst, "A Servant of Servants . . . Cursed as Pertaining to the Priesthood: Mormon Attitudes toward Slavery and the Black Man, 1830-80" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Davis, 1975), p. 53. 11 Dennis L. Lythgoe, "Negro Slavery and Mormon Doctrine." Western Humanities Review 21 ( 1 9 5 7 ) : 3 2 7 - 3 8 ; Stephen G. Taggart, Mormonism's Negro Policy: Social and Historical Origins (Salt Lake City: University of U t a h Press, 1970) ; Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), p. 173. It must be pointed out, however, the Brodie, by 1970, had moved somewhat away from her earlier views concerning Smith and the Black man. See her "Can We Manipulate the P a s t ? " First Annual American West Lecture, Salt Lake City, 1970, pp. 10-13. u Bush suggests that the emergence of Black priesthood denial and increasing negative Mormon attitudes toward Blacks boiled down to a change in personalities at the top. According to Bush, the death of Smith in 1844 caused the church to move away from the relatively enlightened philosophy and teachings on the Black man promoted by Smith and toward the negative concepts and practices of Young. In this, I feel that Bush oversimplifies his arguments. Compare Bush. "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine," pp. 11-31, with Bringhurst, "A Servant of Servants." 11


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fact: the basic confusion and ambiguity as to the roots of this controversial M o r m o n practice. 14 Indeed, it is possible that an examination of the tangled and ambiguous situation within the church during the period 1844-49 can provide clues concerning the origins of Mormon Black priesthood denial. T h e Saints did not arrive at their decision to deny the Black man the priesthood in a direct, clear-cut manner. It is true that this decision was, to some extent, the product of church concern with several MormonBlack questions. But Mormon Black priesthood denial was as much (if not more) the by-product of a number of less related trends affecting the larger Latter-day Saint movement, especially following the Mormon migration west during the late 1840s. T o some extent, the Black man's status within Mormonism in the post-Joseph Smith period was undermined by the emergence of Mormon proslavery tendencies. Following the Mormon migration west Brigham Young and other Saints became more tolerant toward the Black slavery that existed among church members as well as that in the larger American society. This was in contrast to earlier antislavery tendencies manifested by Joseph Smith and other Saints, especially during the last years of the Mormon prophet's life. 1 ' A number of Latter-day Saints, in the process of migrating from the South to the Wrest, brought their Black slaves with them into the Great Basin. This gave added support to these changing attitudes. By 1852 church leaders gave legal recognition to the holding of Black slaves within Utah. 1 " This movement to a proslavery stance after 1846 made it easier to accept the Black man's inferior position in other areas. For example, Brigham Young referred to the Black man's limited "capability and natural rights" in asking for the 1852 Act in Relation to Service legalizing Black slavery in Utah. 1 7 During this same period a second development, an increased willingness of Latter-day Saint leaders to enact secular anti-Black regulations and statutes, undermined the Black man's Mormon position. Although " B u s h , "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine," pp. 11—31. As best expressed in Joseph Smith, Jr., Views on the Government and Policies of the United States (Nauvoo, 111., 1844), p. 3. It must be pointed out, however, that Smith and other Latter-day Saints were ambivalent in their attitudes toward slavery during this period. See Bringhurst, "A Servant of Servants," pp. 77-96. 18 According to Dennis L. Lythgoe such a proslavery orientation following the Mormon migration west was crucial in shaping changing Mormon racial attitudes and practices. See his "Negro Slavery in U t a h , " Utah Historical Quarterly 39 ( 1 9 7 1 ) : 40-54. Also Bringhurst, "A Servant of Servants," pp. 97-120. 17 Brigham Young, "Speech to the Joint Session of the Legislative Assembly," January 5, 1852, p. 109, in Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah 1851-52 (Salt Lake City, 1852). 15



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the Saints during their sojourn in Nauvoo had enacted statutes limiting the right of Blacks to vote, hold municipal office, belong to the militia— the famed Nauvoo Legion—or to intermarry with whites, 18 the Mormon tendency to enact such legislation intensified following the Latter-day Saint migration west.19 This affirmation of an inferior status for those Blacks living in areas under Latter-day Saint control made it easier for church leaders to adopt a subordinate position for the Black man within the Mormon church itself. T h e Mormon tendency to blur over and interrelate secular and ecclesiastical matters has been perceptively noted by Leonard Arlington. 20 In this regard Brigham Young in 1852 explained that the Black or "the seed of Canaan cannot hold any office, civil or ecclesiastical. They have not the wisdom to act like white men.'" A third somewhat more subtle factor also facilitated the Mormon trend toward Black priesthood denial. This involved a shift in Latter-day Saint racial values and perceptions. An increased Mormon tendency to establish and impose on their enemies an inferior, negative, often Black racial identification influenced this change. This Mormon inclination, although present before 1844, was especially evident following Joseph Smith's assassination. 2 ' Increased Latter-day Saint conflicts with their non-Mormon neighbors caused the Saints to project unfavorable racial characteristics on them. Thus when the Nauvoo-based Saints found themselves contending with anti-Mormons in the nearby town of Carthage, they seized upon what they perceived as the metaphoric significance of the name Carthage and compared the contemporary Illinois community with its ancient African namesake. Thus, this rival community, led by a modern Hannibal, was plotting "to swallow up N a u v o o . " 1 T h e Saints used th -ir interpretation of the biblical-Hamitic racial origins of ancient Carthage to assign figurative Black racial characteristics to the anti,s As indicated in "An Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo," as reprinted in Joseph Smith Jr History of the Church of fesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1 9 0 2 - 3 2 ) , 4 : 210, 239-44. ,,J See "Constitution of the State of Deseret," Article 2, Section 5; Article 5, Section 10; Article 6, Section 1 : Article 8, Section 1 : "An Act to Establish a Territorial Government for U t a h , " Section 5; Chapter 35, 47. Also ordinances to incorporate Salt Lake City, Ogden, and o t h e r ' U t a h cities. All reprinted in Acts, Resolutions, and Memorials of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah (Salt Lake City, 1855). ""Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Cambridge', Mass.: Harvard University Press. 1958), p. 5. 21 "History of Brigham Young," as printed in Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah 1540-1886 (San Francisco, 1889), p. 476. 23 For examples of this attitude prior to the Mormon prophet's death see Times and Seasons (Nauvoo 111.), September, October. November, 1840, July 1, 1841; Wasp ( N a u v o o ) , May 14, 1842. September 17, 1842; Latter-day Saints Millennial Star (Liverpool, E n g l a n d ) , August 1843. •'•Nauvoo Neighbor (Nauvoo), August 30, 1843, September 13, 20, 1843.


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Mormons of Carthage, Illinois. 21 Consequently, an anti-Mormon gathering in Carthage was labeled a "Nigger meeting" and its proceedings given in terms of a "Sambo story." 25 In the wake of Joseph Smith's assassination, the Saints further refined the practice of assigning unfavorable racial characteristics. A number of Latter-day Saints expressed the hope and belief that their opponents would actually assume an unfavorable racial identification through divine intervention. Apostle Parley P. Pratt saw a racial significance in the fact that the prophet's assassins had blackened their faces prior to committing their violent deed. H e characterized these killers as "artificial black men." 20 Another church spokesman explained: T h e m u r d e r e r s no d o u b t are sorry they have white skins, if they h a d not been, they would not have painted themselves when they went to kill Joseph a n d H y r u m Smith. But I suppose they w a n t e d to m a k e their faces correspond with their hearts.

H e went on to warn that "God will paint these murderers by and by with a color that soap will not wash off."27 Certain Saints also characterized as "artificial black m e n " not only those who "paint" and " m u r d e r " but also those anti-Mormon sympathizers who approved of such acts. It would be a wonder, indeed, if such an apologist has not a little of the "blackening" unwashed from his b o d y — a n d a few drops of innocent "blood" in his skirts, to witness w h a t has been a n d w h a t will be. 2 8 2i According to the biblical genealogy and origins of nations accepted by nineteenthcentury biblical literalists (including the Latter-day Saints), H a m was looked upon as the father of all black or dark skinned peoples including the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, which cities had colonized Carthage. Hence, it was all too easy for the Mormon mind to draw parallels between the "black" ancient Carthaginians and the residents of Carthage, Illinois. who were engaged in "black" or dark deeds. In a more general sense, all areas occupied by real or supposed enemies of the Saints were collectively designated "the land of H a m . " See "Journal History," May 26, 1844; Latter-day Saints Millennial Star, July 1841. 25 According to the Nauvoo Neighbor, September 13, 1843, the proceedings of the "Nigger meeting" were as follows : I say Sambo;—says Jim, a very interesting Nigger; I says Sambo, and all ob you jemmen ob color;—dis Nigger mobs d a t Massa Leopoldi Augustuni Washington, my uncles nephew, be de president ob dese Nited States; what says all ob ye niggers and massa president h a ! h a ! h a ! Second de motion of de former jemmen-says Ned Massa President says Sambo, p u t it to de meetan All ob you jemmen ob color who faber Leopoldi Augustuni Washington, signify it by saying aye. Carried all but one. —jemmen p u t d a t one d a m nigger out for not voting foe de president of de Nited States, when all ob dese jemmen voted in de firmative. 'M Prophet (New York C i t y ) , May 10, 1845. 24 Nauvoo Neighbor, March 26, 1845. Although these remarks were not written by a Mormon but a sympathetic nonmember, the editor of the Neighbor felt that they were important enough to receive prominent notice in his publication and to be reprinted in the New Y o r k based Prophet, April 26, 1845. 25 Nauvoo Neighbor, August 7, 1844. Speaking in more general terms, another church writer warned that "the vengeance of God will haunt the whole gang of assassins and their offspring and abettors." Times and Seasons, July 15, 1844.



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Speaking in somewhat more general terms, Apostle Orson Hyde expressed his belief that racial blackness would be assigned to other non-Mormon adversaries as well. H e warned that although current anti-Mormon persecutions were "bringing grey hairs upon the Saints," in due course "the Heads of the persecutors will be covered with blackness."' A modification of the Saints own racial self-image also contributed to the Black man's deteriorating position within Mormonism. This change, which invoked an increased tendency of Mormons to view themselves as a racially "chosen" people, resulted in large part from growing Latter-day Saint anxiety over their own status and identification as white men. This Mormon concern developed as a by-product of their conflicts with non-Mormon adversaries. Ironically, various anti-Mormon observers found it easy to draw parallels between the Saints and the Black man in a manner similar to that employed by the Saints themselves against their enemies. 3 " Reflecting Latter-day Saint anxiety over this antiMormon practice, Apostle William Smith tried to discount the . . . m a n y faint a n d incorrect descriptions . . . given N a u v o o a n d the temple by travellers, passers by, a n d others until some have thought the temple built u p o n moonshine, a n d the city a b a r b a r i a n — u g l y , formal, with heads a n d horns a n d stuck into the nethermost corner of the universe where none b u t Indians, Hottentots, Arabs^ T u r k s , wolverines, a n d M o r m o n s dwell.* 1

By 1845, when it became evident that the Saints would have to leave Illinois, Apostle Heber C. Kimball sarcastically pointed out that the Saints were "not considered suitable to live among 'white folks' " and "not accounted as white people." i : I n an apparent attempt to alleviate themselves of such racial anxieties the Saints emphasized their identification with the chosen peoples of the Old Testament—the Hebrews, the children of Israel, and the seed of : " "Speech of Orson Hyde before Congregation in Nauvoo" as recorded in Wilford Woodruff's, "Journal," May 2, 1846. 'M T h e anti-Mormon practice of asserting a Latter-day Saint Black identification was no new thing but had been evident during the Missouri hostilities of 1833-39. Joseph Smith in recounting these Missouri difficulties resented the fact that Saints had not been treated as white men See Niles Weekly Register (Philadelphia. P a . ) , September 14, 1833. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled (Saint Louis, 1877), pp. 58-60, as quoted in Brodie's No Man Knows My History, p. 225. 31 Prophet, November 23, 1844. It is interesting to note that Josiah Quincy in recalling his visit to Nauvoo in April 1844 took note of the work being done on the Mormon temple there. One workman at the temple site, according to Quincy, was "laboring on a huge sun" chiseled from solid stone, "the countenance was of the negro type . . . surrounded by the conventional rays." See his Figures of the Past (Boston, 1883), pp. 376-400. 62 Times and Seasons. July 15, 1845, November 1, 1845. Also see similar comments by Babbitt to Brigham Young, July 1, 1850, Almon W. Babbitt Papers, L D S Archives.


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Abraham. 3 3 Church spokesmen suggested that a spiritual link existed between the Saints and the seed of Abraham. T h e r e is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's then ye are Abraham's seed and heir according to the promise. 3 4

Apostle Orson Pratt believed that an individual could become "a citizen of the C h u r c h " or kingdom of God, and by implication the seed of Abraham, through the "law of adoption." 35 Physical suffering at the hands of non-Mormon enemies strengthened the Mormon desire to identify with Old Testament chosen peoples. After 1844 as the Saints engaged in increased hostilities with their non-Mormon Illinois neighbors, they expected the Lord to lead them "out of Egypt into some new Canaan." 311 Following their exodus from Illinois and the establishment of a temporary Mormon c a m p at Winter Quarters, in present-day Nebraska, the Saints designated themselves as the " C a m p of Israel."' T h e persecutions and difficulties faced first by Joseph Smith and then by Brigham Young were compared to those endured by Moses and other Old Testament figures.38 Another realm of Latter-day Saint concern—the growing divisions within Mormonism following the death of Joseph Smith—caused the Saints to assign unfavorable biblical-racial characteristics to these rivals and become even more aware of their own racial-biblical identity. These two Mormon developments helped to further undermine the Black man's Mormon position. T h e followers of Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles, the largest Mormon group, found themselves forced to deal with a number of rival claims to Mormon authority. These opponents fell into two main categories: those who claimed that only the actual, literal descendants 38 Smith, History of the Church, 3 : 294; Times and Seasons, October 1840; Latter-day Saints Millennial Star, August 1843. A spiritual identification with such people had been asserted during the 1830s. This was suggested in the patriarchal blessings given to Wilford Woodruff, "Journal," April 25, 1837, and to Erastus Snow, "Journal," December 3, 1837, Snow Papers, LDS Archives. Also see Doctrine and Covenants 6 4 : 3 6 ; Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate, February 1835, July 1837. ; " Times and Seasons, January 1840. ^ Orson Pratt, The Kingdom of God (Liverpool, England, 1848), p. 2. For a discussion of the concept of "adoption" and its relationship to the development of Mormon theology see Gordon Irving, " T h e Law of Adoption: One Phase of the Development of the Mormon Concept of Salvation, 1830-1900," Brigham Young University Studies, 14 (1974) : 291-314. M Times and Seasons, October 1840: Parley P. Pratt to Elias Smith, February 18, 1845, Parley P. Pratt Papers, LDS Archives. '' The designation of Winter Quarters as the "Camp of Israel" could convey a literal as well as spiritual-racial identification between the Saints and the Children of Israel. M Latter-day Saints Millennial Star, July 1841, August 1843: Times and Seasons, September 1, 1842, July 1, 1844.

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or family of Joseph Smith could assume leadership and control over the church; and those rivals who maintained that they had received their authority from the hands of Joseph Smith prior to his death or through divine providence or a combination of the two.39 Included in the first category were people like the former Mormon apostle, Lyman Wight, who led his small group of dissident Saints to Texas; 10 and Sidney Rigdon, a former counselor and assistant to Joseph Smith, who established his Mormon group in western Pennsylvania in 1845.11 Neither Wight nor Rigdon claimed church authority or control for himself; each acted as a temporary guardian or protector for Joseph Smith III—the eldest son of the slain Mormon prophet. In the wake of Smith's murder, they argued that legitimate Mormon authority had passed from the elder Smith to young Joseph, who at this time was an adolescent and therefore unable to assume active control over church affairs. Both of these claimants asserted that once the younger Smith reached adulthood, he could assume actual church leadership and their self-appointed guardianship would end. The second set of rival claimants included individuals such as James J. Strang, who stated that he had received specific authority from Joseph Smith prior to his death designating him to be the new Mormon leader. Strang discounted kinship to Joseph Smith as a prerequisite to church authority or leadership. By exercising his alleged powers as prophet, seer, and revelator in a manner reminiscent of Joseph Smith, Strang, by the late 1840s, established himself as Brigham Young's most effective rival for Mormon authority. 42 Brigham Young and the Twelve responded to such rival claims to Mormon authority by projecting upon Ridgon, Strang, and others unfavorable biblical and racial characteristics. Young described his op39 Several studies consider the various Mormon groups that emerged in opposition to Brigham Young and the Twelve. See Dale L. Morgan, "A Bibliography of the Churches of the Dispersion," Western Humanities Review 1 (1952) : 255-66; Robert B. Flanders, "The Mormons Who Did Not Go West: A Study of the Emergence of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" (M.A. thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1954), and D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844," Brigham Young University Studies 16 (1976) : 187— 233. 40 For two accounts of Wight and his activities in Texas see Davis Bitton, "Mormons in Texas: The Ill-fated Lyman Wight Colony, 1844-1858," Arizona and the West 11 (Spring 1969) : 5-26, and C. Stanley Banks, "The Mormon Migration into Texas," Southwest Historical Quarterly 49'(October 1945) : 233-44. 41 For the most recent account about Rigdon see F. Mark McKiernan, The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness: Sidney Rigdon, Religious Reformer, 1793-1876 (Lawrence, Kan.: Coronado Press, 1972). 42 Milo M. Quaife, The Kingdom of Saint James: A Narrative of the Mormons (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930) and Oscar W. Riegel, Crown of Glory: The Life of James J. Strang: Moses of the Mormons (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1935).


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ponents as "faltered and . . . darkened" individuals. 43 Another writer compared Rigdon with Cain, denouncing him as a false prophet or "Kind of god" that would trouble none but "the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lybians, etc. . . ."44 Other Young loyalists collectively condemned all Mormon rivals as "the daring Sons of Pharaoh, Cain and J u d a s " and described them as a "deteriorated" people who had become "an inferior race of beings." 45 In the most famous condemnation of dissident Mormons written during this period, Apostle Orson Hyde not only specifically rejected the rival claims of Rigdon, who was compared with the devil, but also issued a warning to those Saints who were halting or unsure as to who had the right to govern the church. Such doubting individuals, declared Hyde, should learn a lesson from "the accursed lineage of Canaan . . . the negro or African race." According to Hyde the Blacks were suffering from the consequences of a dark skin because of their reluctance to determine between the forces of good and evil during a premortal wrar in Heaven. 40 I n turn, Brigham Young and his followers attempted to bolster their own claims to Mormon authority over those of their rivals by asserting a literal identification w ith the seed of Abraham. This helped to further undermine the Black man's Mormon position. 47 This Mormon assertion of a literal Abrahamic racial identification represented an effort to undermine the rival efforts by Rigdon, Wight, and others to protect and reserve Latter-day Saint authority for the lineage of Joseph Smith, an acknowledged descendant of the seed of Abraham. Young and his followers were also anxious to counter the appeal of James J. Strang who claimed powers of supernatural revelation reminiscent of those earlier asserted by Joseph Smith. Young, however, was different in his approach to religion from either Strang or Smith and did not tend to assert super4a

"Journal History," October 6, 1844. Times and Seasons, November 15, 1844. James J. Strang was identified with Judas Iscariot and Lucifer: see Latter-day Saints Millennial Star, November 15, 1846. 45 Latter-day Saints Millennial Star, November 1,15, 1847. 4 " Orson Hyde, Speech Delivered before the High Priests Quorum in Nauvoo, April 27, 1845. According to at least one account, Orson Hyde, in the wake of his own brief "apostacy" from the church in 1838-39, experienced a "vision" in which it was revealed that the "curse of Cain" (i.e. a black skin) would come upon him and his posterity if Hyde did not repent and "make immediate restitution to the quorum of the Twelve." See Allen Joseph Stout, "Journal," 9, as described in Marvin S. Hill, "A Historical Study of the Life of Orson H y d e " (M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1955), p. 40. Also see John W. Gunnison, The Mormons, or Latter-day Saints, in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake . . . (Philadelphia, 1856), p. 5 1 . 47 Although a literal Abrahamic relationship had been postulated for Joseph Smith and the Lamanites, or contemporary American Indian, through the pages of the Book of Mormon, this ethnic-racial claim had not been promoted for other church leaders or the general church membership during the 1830s. See Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 3 : 14-18. 41



for the Black Man


natural powers as a prophet, seer, and revelator. 48 It was logical, therefore, for Young and his followers to emphasize the existence of a literal link between themselves and the chosen lineage of A b r a h a m in an effort to accentuate their own claims to Mormon authority, while at the same time discounting the literal lineage claims of Wight and Rigdon and the supernatural arguments of Strang. Brigham Young and his followers further strengthened their claims to Mormon authority by making literal Abrahamic descent an essential prerequisite for priesthood authority. Therefore, "the honors and power of the priesthood are not obtained, by money or craft. They are handed down by lineage from father to son, according to the order of the Son of God." 49 Throughout the late 1840s Mormon leaders described the Saints as the pure and unmixed seed of A b r a h a m or Ephraim, asserting their right to the priesthood by virtue of this "royal lineage." 50 Brigham Young, in advancing his own rights to the mantle of Joseph Smith, declared that he, like the slain Mormon prophet, was "entitled to the Priesthood according to lineage and blood." Likewise, Young explained that members of the Council of Twelve Apostles and "many others" in the church were also entitled to the "keys and powers" of priesthood authority by virtue of their "lineage & blood." 51 T h e efforts of Brigham Young and his followers to assert their literal descent from the seed of A b r a h a m and link it to church membership and priesthood authority could not help but have a negative effect on the status of the Black man within Mormonism. T h e Blacks, unlike the white Saints, could not trace their lineage back to the chosen seed of A b r a h a m because, according to Mormon belief, they were direct descendants of H a m , the accursed son of Noah. By making Abrahamic lineage a prerequisite for the Mormon priesthood, the Saints weakened all actual and potential Black claims to such power and authority. By drawing parallels between rival claimants to Mormon authority and biblical counterparts the Saints further accentuated the negative aspects of blackness or a dark skin. In addition to changing Latter-day Saint racial perceptions resulting from conflicts with anti-Mormon neighbors and internal struggles 48 The only revelation of Brigham Young canonized as "inspired scripture" through its inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants was " T h e Word and Will of the Lord," January 14, 1847. This revelation dealt largely with practical matters of Mormon migration and habits of behavior among the Saints. 49 Times and Seasons, November 15, 1844. 5,1 Willard Richards, "Discourse given at a meeting of the Young and Richards families," Willard Richards Papers, LDS Archives; Woodruff, "Journal," May 3, 1846. 51 As recorded in Woodruff's "Journal," February 16, 1847.


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with Latter-day Saint rivals, a number of general tendencies both within and outside of the church also adversely affected the Black man's place within Mormonism. O n e such tendency, Mormon millennialism, evident from the earliest days of the church, continued to play a prominent role in shaping church attitudes including those on race and the Black man.' 2 T h e Saints reflected this millennialism, as they had done from the earliest days of Mormonism, through a continuing, lively interest in Black, biblical counterparts. 5 3 A group's millennialistic interest, such as the Mormons, in counterparts intensifies during times of "social disorientation." 54 T h e period 1844-49 was certainly a time of acute social disorientation for the Saints. Following the traumatic experience of Joseph Smith's assassination in 1844, the Saints found themselves subjected to increased anti-Mormon persecution culminating in their forced expulsion from Illinois and migration to the Great Basin. T h e various divisions that emerged within Mormonism in the wake of Smith's death contributed to an identity crisis in which the Saints became increasingly concerned about just who and what they were, as well as what they were not. This situation facilitated the Mormon construction of, and emphasis on, eschatological enemies. An increased Mormon awareness of such counterparts dovetailed with shifting Latter-day Saint racial perceptions, as discussed above. It was, therefore, easy for the Saints to draw negative parallels with the contemporary Black man and view him in a less favorable light. 55 One particular aspect of this Mormon social disorientation—the Mormon migration to and settlement in the Great Basin—increased Latter-day Saint racial anxieties and thereby undermined the Black man's Mormon position. T h e Saints, like other Americans who had 5 " For a discussion of the interaction between millennialism and developing Mormon theology, see Klaus J. Hansen, Quest for Empire: The Political Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History (Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1967). r>: 'During the 1840s this was reflected in the publication of the Book of Abraham and the publicity given to the so-called Kinderhook Plates. Both of these items, according to Joseph Smith, contained information concerning the activities of certain biblical counterparts. The Book of Abraham was initially made available to church members through the Times and Seasons, March and April 1842 : while Smith's speculations concerning the Kinderhook Plates are contained in History of the Church, 5:372. and Parley P. Pratt to John Van Cott, May 7, 1843, Parley P. Pratt Papers, LDS Archives. 51 Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium (New York, 1957), 85-87. Marvin S. Hill in an interesting article touches on the possible relationships between Mormonism and social disorientation. See his "Quest for Refuge: An Hypothesis as to the Nature of the Mormon Political Kingdom," Journal of Mormon History 2 (1975) : 3-20. B5 It has also been suggested that millennialists in "building u p " such enemies, assign the most unfavorable positions or status to that group which is considered to be an "out group" by the society in which that millennialism is active. Like the American society of which they were a part, the Saints probably perceived the Black man as the living embodiment of everything that they as white men. must never become. See Winthrop Jordan. White over Black (Chapel Hill, N.C.. 1967), p. 110.



for the Black Man


migrated westward, experienced concern over the uncivilized influence of the frontier. As a result, the Saints asserted their own white racial superiority in order to assure themselves, and others, that they would not lapse into a barbarian state like that symbolized by the frontier.5'1 Mormon apprehension about possible cultural degeneration on the frontier manifested itself in a speech given by Brigham Young during the Mormon migration west. T h e Latter-day Saint leader chastised some misbehaving Saints in the following manner. H e r e are the Elders of Israel w h o have got the Priesthood, w h o have got to preach the gospel, w h o have to g a t h e r the nations of the e a r t h , w h o have to build u p the K i n g d o m , so that the nations can come to it; they will stoop to d a n c e as niggers; (I d o n ' t m e a n this as speaking disrespectfully of our colored friends amongst us by any means) they will hoe d o w n all, turn summersets, dance on their knees, a n d haw, haw, out l o u d ; they will play cards, they will play checkers a n d dominoes; they will use profane l a n g u a g e ; they will swear. 57

One Latter-day Saint remarked that it " h a d made him shudder when he had seen the Elders of Israel descend to the lowest and dirtiest things imaginable—the last end of everything." O n e of the offending elders in confessing his shortcomings admitted that "he knew his mind had become darkened." 5 8 It is interesting to note that the misbehaving elders of Israel were compared to the Black m a n rather than the Indian, whose presence and influence were more evident to the westward migrating Saints. Latter-day Saint acceptance of Herrenvolk (master race belief) further undermined the Black man's status within Mormonism. According to this belief, widely held in American society during the middle third of the nineteenth century, political and social rights were to be extended to virtually all whites, at least to all adult white males, while at the same time they were withheld from various nonwhite racial groups. Herrenvolk democracy, it has been theorized, was especially prevalent among certain deprived, socially disoriented groups. 5 '' Thus, it is possible that the Latter66

Ibid., pp. 143-44. " H e b e r C. Kimball, "Journal," May 29, 1847, Heber C. Kimball Papers, L D S Archives. This incident was also noted by the "Journal History," May 29, 1847, which drew a harsher analogy between the Black man and the delinquent elders: "They will stoop and dance like nigers. I don't mean this debasing the nigers by any means." This account was corroborated by the observations of Howard R. Egan, Pioneering the West, 1846 to 1878: Major Howard Egan's Diary . . . (Richmond, U t . : Howard R. Egan Estate, 1917), p. 5 7 ; Wilford Woodruff in his " J o u r n a l " May 29, 1847, had Brigham Young denouncing the elders for "Nigering & Hobing down all. . . ." Italics in original. 58 Egan, Pioneering the West, pp. 5 8 - 6 1 . w Pierre L. van den Berge, Race and Racism: A Comparative Perspective (New York, 1967) pp. 17-18; George M. Fredrickson, The Black Image in the White Mind (New York, 1 9 7 1 ) ' pp. 92-96.


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day Saints, who were certainly a deprived, socially disoriented group, were influenced by this belief in extending to all free adult white males certain political privileges—the right to vote, hold public office, and belong to the militia—and at the same time denying these same rights to various nonwhites through their Nauvoo Charter and, later, their territorial laws. 60 It appears, moreover, that the Saints, in extending proscriptions on the Black m a n from the secular to the ecclesiastical realm through Black priesthood denial, tried to prove that they were truer adherents to Herrenvolk democracy than Americans in general. Whatever the motive, such an extension was logical from a Mormon point of view because many Latter-day Saint church officials also held government positions, often corresponding in rank and responsibility with their ecclesiastical or priesthood offices. T h e Saints, as previously suggested, tended to interrelate or blur over secular and ecclesiastical matters and therefore saw priesthood holding in the same light as the franchise, a privilege open to virtually all adult white male members of the church but closed to the Black man. Although it is evident that a number of crucial trends and developments during the period after Joseph Smith's death encouraged a deteriorating position for the Black man within Mormonism, the Saints, as suggested above, did not subscribe to the practice of Black priesthood denial until February 1849. As late as 1844 church officials recognized and upheld the priesthood status of Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis, both Mormon Blacks. During the period 1845-49, however, several Mormon incidents directly involving Blacks apparently pushed church leaders toward the acceptance of Black priesthood denial. T h e first involved William McCary, an Indian-Black man, referred to variously as the "Indian," " L a m a n i t e , " or "Nigger Prophet." 6 1 T h e accounts describing McCary's activities, often vague and conflicting, make it difficult to determine his exact relationship to, or impact on, the Latter-day Saint movement. In 1846 a "colored m a n " living in Saint Louis, presumably McCary, traveled to Nauvoo to "gull the people" of the Mormon community. When he arrived there dressed "in the garb of, and professing to be an Indian w In addition, the Saints, like other "disoriented" groups in nineteenth-century America, also tended to view society and social divisions in terms of " n a t u r a l " distinctions of race rather than "artificial" class distinctions. " ' M c C a r y ' s name was spelled in a number of different ways: "McGarry," "McCairey," " M c C a r r y , " "McCarey," as well as "McCary." In one source, he was referred to as Wm. Chubby," Juanita Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861, (Salt Lake City: U t a h State Historical Society, University of U t a h Press, 1964), entry for M a r c h 8, 1848. In the True Latter Day Saints Herald (Cincinnati, O . ) , March 1861, he was referred to as "Mr. Williams the imposter." For uniformity and simplicity of spelling I will refer to him as William McCary.

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Chief . . . a great parade" was allegedly made over him.62 Later, McCary, according to other sources, was "baptised and ordained" and then "married . . . to a white sister" by Apostle Orson Hyde, in charge at Nauvoo.63 Hyde allegedly sent this "Indian," who called himself a "Lamanite Prophet," out to deceive the non-Mormons and "destroy" those Mormon churches that Brigham Young and the Twelve could not control.64 Later that same year, McCary shifted his base of operation to Cincinnati, Ohio. A local newspaper described the exploits of "a big, burley, half Indian, half Negro, formerly a Mormon" who built up a religious following of sixty members "solemnly enjoined to secrecy" concerning their rites and practices. McCary "proclaimed himself Jesus Christ" showing his disciples "the scars of wounds in his hands and limbs received on the cross" and performed "miracles with a golden rod."65 McCary's stay in Cincinnati was short-lived because by February 1847 a Cincinnati follower of James J. Strang noted that "the black Indian has blown out and all of his followers are ashamed."6'' McCary then shifted his activities west to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, where the main body of Saints, under the leadership of Brigham Young, was temporarily encamped. The Mormon leader, following a meeting with McCary in early 1847, seemed to feel that the Black Indian might be useful to the Saints. It is not clear how Young planned to utilize McCary's services.67 By late March 1847, however, McCary fell from Mormon favor. What he did to offend Brigham Young is not certain, but at a "meeting of the twelve and others" summoned to consider this matter [William McCary] made a rambling statement, claiming to be Adam, the ancient of days, and exhibiting himself in Indian costume; he also claimed to have an odd rib which he had discovered in his wife. He played 62

True Latter Day Saints Herald, March 1861. "'Ibid., Voree Herald (Voree, Wis.), October 1846. One non-Mormon account took note that Orson Hyde on another occasion had recognized or at least condoned the relationship between a Mormon elder and an Indian woman who was recognized as a "spiritual wife." N. S. Green, Mormonism (Hartford, Conn., 1870), 119-20. 64 Voree Herald, October 1846; True Latter Day Saints Herald, March 1861. *5 Gazette (Saint Joseph, M o . ) , December 11, 1846, as recopied from the Cincinnati Commercial. In noting that "more than half" of McCary's followers were women "enjoined to secrecy" this source seemed to hint that plural marriage or polygamy was part of the rites and practices. M Zion's Revelle (Voree, Wis.), February 25, 1847. 07 John D. Lee, "Journal," February 27, 1847, John D. Lee Papers, LDS Archives. Young possibly had one or more of the following uses for McCary's talents: to dupe or mislead his Mormon rivals, to be an interpreter among the Indians as the Saints traveled west, and to entertain the Saints on their westward trek with his talents as a mimic and ventriloquist.


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on his thirty-six cent flute, being a n a t u r a l musician a n d gave several illustrations of his ability as a mimic. 1 ' 8

Then "the coolored [sic] man . . . showed his body to the company to see if he had a rib gone." According to another observer McCary also demonstrated his abilities as a ventriloquist. He tried to pass himself off as the ancient Apostle Thomas by throwing his voice and claiming that "God spoke unto him and called him Thomas." 69 Following this March 1847 meeting with church leaders, McCary was expelled from the Mormon camp at Winter Quarters. Subsequently, Apostle Orson Hyde preached a sermon "against his doctrine."70 That was not the end of McCary's Mormon involvement, however. According to one account, McCary associated himself with Charles B. Thompson, the leader of a minor Mormon schismatic sect based in Saint Louis.71 Another witness reported that McCary traveled "South to his own tribe."72 Other observers suggested that McCary remained or returned to the area around Winter Quarters and proceeded to set up his own rival Mormon group in opposition to the authority of Brigham Young.73 In doing this, it appears that the Black Indian drew a number of followers away from Brigham Young and the Twelve by the teaching and practice of his own form of plural marriage or polygamy. According to Nelson W. Whipple, McCary had a number of women . . . seald to h i m in his way which was as follows, he h a d a house in which this ordinance was performed his wife . . . was in the r o o m at the time of the proformance no others was a d m i t e d the form of sealing was for the w o m e n to go to bed with h i m in the daytime as I a m informed 3 different times by which they was seald to the fullist extent.

McCary's activities and this "sealing ordinance" caused a negative reaction among those Latter-day Saints in the surrounding community not 68 "Manuscript History of the C h u r c h , " M a r c h 26, 1847, L D S Archives. A brief mention of the confrontation between McCary and church leaders is also contained in Willard Richards, "Journal," March 26, 1847, Willard Richards Papers, L D S Archives. 69 Wilford Woodruff, "Journal," March 26, 1847; True Latter Day Saints Herald March 1861. '"Lorenzo Brown, "Journal," April 27, 1847, Lorenzo Brown Papers, L D S Archives; John D. Lee, "Journal," April 25, 1847, Lee Papers. 11 According to the Gospel Herald (Voree, Wis.), October 5, 1848, and True Latter Day Saints Herald, M a r c h 1861, Thompson was influenced by McCary in developing his own doctrines and practices. C. R. Marks in " M o n o n a County, Iowa Mormons," Annals of Iowa (April 1906), p p . 337, 341, takes note of Thompson's militant antislavery views. In addition, Thompson, like his Mormon rivals in U t a h , was interested in the origins of Black and mixed races. Such an interest was manifested through his writing and publication of The Nachashlogian (Saint Louis, 1860). 72 Lorenzo Brown, "Journal," April 27, 1847. 73 Ibid.; Nelson W. Whipple, "Journal," October 14, 1847; Nelson W. Whipple Papers, LDS Archives; Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, entry for April 25, 1847.



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involved with his sect — particularly the relatives of McCary's female disciples. O n e irate Mormon wanted "to shoot" McCary for trying "to kiss his girls." But McCary, who sensed the impending storm caused by the disclosure of his unorthodox practices " m a d e his way to Missouri on a fast trot." 74 During 1847, about the same time that Brigham Young and others were dealing with William McCary and his disruptive behavior, Young received a letter from William L. Appleby, a church official in the eastern United States, asking if Walker Lewis, the Black elder from Lowell, Massachusetts, had the right to hold the priesthood. N o w d e a r Br. [Young] I wish to know if this is the order of G o d or tolerated in this c h u r c h , ie. to ordain Negroes to the Priesthood . . . If it is I desire to know it as I have yet got to learn it. 75

Appleby's reference to Walker Lewis and his standing within the church appears to represent the first time that the Black man's priesthood status was questioned by any church official. T h e willingness of Appleby to question the status of Lewis and Black Mormons in general stands in sharp contrast to Apostle Wilford Woodruff's earlier simple description of "a Coloured Brother who was an Elder" in Lowell, relayed to Brigham Young in December 1844. T h e Latter-day Saints, therefore, became much more concerned about the role and the status of the Black m a n within Mormonism in the two-and-a-half-year period from late 1844 to mid-1847. This concern was possibly prompted by changing Latter-day Saint racial perceptions, as discussed above, or on a more immediate level by McCary's bizarre activities. However, one should not overstate the historical significance of Appleby's observations. His tendency to question Black ordination could have resulted more from his own personal views of Mormon doctrine than from any churchwide practice. 70 Moreover, aside from Black priesthood ordination, Appleby expressed in this same correspondence as much if not more concern about the question of "amalgamation" or racial intermixture. This problem bothered Appleby because Lewis's son was "mar14

Nelson W. Whipple, "Journal," October 14, 1847. Appleby to Young, June 2, 1847, Appleby Papers. 76 It appears that any doubts Appleby had at the time he wrote Young were removed by the time he recorded the account of his confrontation with Lewis in his "Journal," under the date May 19, 1847. Appleby acknowledged that the ordination of Lewis was "contrary though to the order of the Church on the Law of the Priesthood, as the Descendants of H a m are not entitled to that privilege." There are indications, however, that this entry, along with most of his so-called "Journal," was not written until the mid-1850s, a time when priesthood denial for the Black man was well known by people both within and outside the church. 75


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ried to a white girl."' 7 Despite Appleby's direct appeal, Brigham Young did not give a written reply on the immediate issue of Walker Lewis's priesthood standing.78 As for the general question of the Black man's priesthood status, it seems that Brigham Young did not act on this issue in 1847 or even during 1848.79 Other developments involving Mormon Black contacts during the crucial years 1846-49 appear to be of greater immediate importance in prompting the Mormon move toward Black priesthood denial. The Mormon migration to the Great Basin caused church leaders to come into contact with more Blacks, both slave and free, living in close proximity to the church headquarters than had been the case at any other time in Mormon history.80 A number of Saints, as previously indicated, brought Black slaves into the Great Basin during the period 1847-49. In fact, most of Utah's Black slave population entered the Great Basin during the summer and fall of 1848.S1 It seems that the sudden appearance of this relatively large number of Blacks in Mormonism's new gathering place made church leaders more sensitive to the need to resolve questions revolving around the ecclesiastical and secular status of these newly arrived Blacks and the Black man in general.82 The first of these issues— the Black man's ecclesiastical status—was resolved in February 1849 when the First Presidency of the church and the Council of Twelve Apostles met as two complete bodies for the first time since Joseph Smith's death. Before these bodies Brigham Young expressed for the first time his belief that the Black man was ineligible for the priesthood. Young's declaration was prompted by a question posed by Apostle 7T

Appleby to Young, June 2, 1847. T h e lack of such a reply can probably be explained by the fact that Appleby had the opportunity of conferring with Young in person at Winter Quarters during the fall of 1847, following the latter's return from the Great Basin with the first pioneer company. 79 A personal conclusion, tentatively based on my issue-by-issue and page-by-page examination of all the periodicals published by those Saints loyal to Brigham Young during this period, plus my extensive examination of the correspondence and journals of Brigham Young and those church leaders close to him during this period, as contained and available in the LDS Archives. 80 According to my own compilations derived from a number of sources, it appears that there were only about 20 Blacks living in Nauvoo during the Mormon sojourn there from 1839— 46, in contrast to the 100-120 Blacks who arrived in the Great Basin during the first three years, 1847-50. See Bringhurst, "A Servant of Servants," appendix C, especially tables II and I I I . 81 It appears that 5 9 - 6 8 Black slaves were brought into the territory during 1848 as contrasted with only 11 in 1847, 1 in 1849, and 7 in 1850. As compiled from information in Carter, " T h e Negro Pioneer," a n d Jack Beller, "Negro Slaves in U t a h , " Utah Historical Quarterly 2 (1929) : 123-26. T h e total number of Black slaves within U t a h by 1850 as compiled from these sources differs somewhat from the official U.S. Census total of 24 as reported for that same year. See U.S., Bureau of the Census, The Seventh Census of the United States: 1850 (Washington, D.C., 1853), p. 993. 82 In addition, the sudden influx of Blacks into the territory during the summer and fall of 1848 possibly caused church leaders to believe that an equal number of Blacks or possibly even more would arrive during the 1849 emigration season. Thus, there would be an additional need to settle the question of the Black man's status within Mormonism. 78

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Lorenzo Snow concerning the "chance of redemption . . . for the Africans." Young replied [T]he curse remained upon thorn because Cain cut off the lives [sic] of Abel, to prevent him and his posterity getting ascendency over Cain and his generations, and to get the lead himself, his own offering not being accepted of God, while Abel's was. But the Lord cursed Cain's seed with blackness and prohibited t h e m the priesthood, that Abel a n d his progeny might yet come forward, and have their dominion, place, and blessings in their proper relationship with Cain and his race in the world to come. 8 3

Although Young's 1849 statement is very significant when viewed within the context of the larger and later history of Mormon-Black attitudes and practices, it appears that this initial declaration of Black priesthood denial had a limited impact when it was first made. Initial Mormon priesthood proscriptions on the Black man were not publicized by the church until 1852.84 Publicity at this later date came because of a Mormon desire to resolve the legal issues surrounding the Black man's secular status—both slave and free—following the organization of Utah into a territory and the election of a territorial legislature. This legislature met for the first time in 1851-52 and proceeded to enact those laws, previously discussed, that legalized slavery and limited the Black man's political and civil rights. This action in 1852, by Utah's Mormon-dominated territorial government, brought into sharper focus the anti-Black action taken by the church three years earlier. What is clear, therefore, about Mormon Black priesthood denial is that it did not emerge in a direct, clear-cut manner. It was an ambiguous decision. It was a decision prompted by a number of incidents and trends affecting the church in the four-and-a-half-year period following Joseph Smith's death. On a direct level, increased contacts between the Saints and Blacks probably made church leaders sensitive to the fact that the Saints had (or at least could have) a "Black problem." During this same time the Black man's image in the white Mormon mind deteriorated as the result of a crucial shift in Latter-day Saint racial perceptions. These two sets of developments affected the Latter-day Saints, a religious group already acutely aware of the importance of race and racial images as expressed in the sacred writings of Joseph Smith, particularly the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham. 55 Despite all of these factors, Black 83

"Manuscript History of the Church," February 13, 1849. T h a t is, in various church newspapers and official publications. There are indications however, that interested individuals both within and outside of the church were aware of Black priesthood denial. See Gunnison, The Mormons, p. 143. 85 T h e Book of Abraham, first published in the official church periodical Times and Seasons, March and April 1842, was eventually utilized by church spokesmen to justify and give a 81


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priesthood denial did not emerge in a clear-cut fashion. The relationships between causes and effects are vague and hazy. But it is clear that by 1849 these various developments made church leaders very sensitive to the issue of the Black man's actual or at least potential status within Mormonism. It appears that this sensitivity caused Brigham Young to make his 1849 statement calling for Mormon Black priesthood denial— a statement made in an almost matter-of-fact way and accompanied by only a limited amount of early publicity. It was not until 1852 that this decision took on added significance. In that year Black priesthood denial was reinforced and utilized in Utah by Mormons to legalize slavery in their territory and to enact legislation limiting Black civil and political rights. From that time on, church spokesmen publicized Mormon Black priesthood denial and became committed to the practice, a commitment that has intensified from that time down to the present. scriptural base to Black priesthood denial. But this negative use of the Book of Abraham did not emerge until after 1852. This is contrary to the earlier suggestions of Taggart, Brodie, etc. See Bringhurst, "A Servant of Servants." pp. 177-211.

Another Visit with Walter Murray Gibson BY R. L A N I E R

Above: Walter Murray


Gibson, courtesy of W. G.


1 H E BRIEF, SPECTACULAR M O R M O N CAREER of Walter M u r r a y Gibson has been discussed by a number of authors. Gibson affiliated himself with the Latter-day Saints in 1860. Then, after filling a brief mission for the church in the eastern states, he was assigned to fill a mission in Asia. H e made his way instead to Hawaii where he became the supreme leader Dr. Britsch is associate professor of history at Brigham Young University.


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of the Mormons there. For misusing his office in the church he was excommunicated in April 1864. After he was cut off from the church he maintained the deeds to a large piece of property on the island of Lanai that he had purchased with money donated by the Hawaiian Latter-day Saints. Because of his actions his reputation has suffered from numerous assaults against it. For many years there was almost unanimous agreement that Walter Murray Gibson was a rascal, an opportunist, an adventurer, and a dishonest man who defrauded the Mormons of Hawaii and "stole the island of Lanai." 1 Not until 1972 did a scholar defend him and attempt to persuade the public that Gibson had been misrepresented or misunderstood.2 Because Gwynn Barrett has revised the earlier conclusions concerning Gibson, it is appropriate to assess him once again in the light of historical evidence. It is also proper to evaluate Barrett's "revisit." Since his article dealt primarily with the Mormon period of Gibson's career, this article will also be confined to that period, from 1859 to 1864. The central issue concerning Captain Gibson is whether he was an honest man. As Professor Barrett asserts, it would be inaccurate to conclude that Gibson was "simply an intriguer or an opportunist." An assessment of Gibson's goals and motivations, his personal desires and hopes for humanity, is difficult to achieve. Yet, this is the most important question to raise concerning him. This writer believes that Gibson had some good qualities of character and that he may have honestly desired the welfare of the Hawaiian people, as Barrett implies in his "revisit." However, even though some altruistic goal may have motivated Gibson's actions, he, in fact, lived according to his own set of values which were pragmatic, expedient, and opportunistic. The most serious difficulty with Gibson arises when a scholar must weigh the evidence and decide whether Gibson was primarily a rascal or whether his motivations were actually altruistic but unfortunately overshadowed by his unethical behavior. 1 Gavan Daws, " T h e Shepherd Saint." Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands (Honolulu, 1968), pp. 2 2 0 - 2 5 ; Frank W. McGhie, " T h e Life and Intrigues of Walter Murray Gibson" (M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1958) ; James A. Michener and A. Grove Day, "Gibson, the King's Evil Angel," Rascals in Paradise (London, 1957), pp. 120-54; Joseph B. Musser, "Walter M u r r a y Gibson—Oceanic Adventurer," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 52 (September 1 9 2 6 ) : 1709-32: B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century 1, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 5 : 9 7 - 1 0 0 ; Esther L. Sousa, "Walter Murray Gibson's Rise to Power in Hawaii" (M.A. thesis, University of Hawaii, 1942) ; Samuel W. Taylor, "Walter Murray Gibson: Great Mormon Rascal," American West, Spring 1964, pp. 1 8 - 2 7 ; and Lorrin A. Thurston, Memoirs of the Hawaiian Revolution (Honolulu, 1936). 2 Gwynn Barrett, "Walter Murray Gibson: The Shepherd Saint of Lanai Revisited" Utah Historical Quarterly 40 (1972) : 142-62.





One of the most important questions raised concerning Gibson is how he acquired a reputation for dishonesty. For a revisionist thesis to stand the test of time and scholarly scrutiny, it is usually necessary to discredit the original sources of information. According to Barrett, the origin of Gibson's bad name should be attributed to the writings of Thomas G. T h r u m and Andrew Jenson. After Gibson's excommunication from the Mormon church in April 1864 a "tradition developed that Gibson had cheated the Mormons—that he had stolen lands owned by the church while attempting to build an island kingdom over which he, the 'Shepherd Saint,' would preside." T h e inference is that T h r u m crystallized these traditions in a "political tract" titled The Shepherd Saint of Lanai. . . , his objective being to discredit Gibson as an "opportunist." 3 T h r u m ' s motivations unquestionably colored his choice of information to print concerning Gibson. But of equal importance is the question of whether the assertions made by T h r u m can be impugned. It would have helped verify the thesis of the "revisit" if some space had been devoted to proving that T h r u m ' s Shepherd Saint is an invalid document. However, Barrett simply states that after Gibson became "prominent in politics, T h r u m objected to Gibson's nativism. Aligning himself with the white oligarchy, T h r u m railed against Gibson. . . ." This brief statement is intended to convince the reader that the basic old source is the perpetuator of an incorrect tradition. However, no evidence is produced to show that the letters, receipts, and other writings contained in the Shepherd Saint were forged documents or that they had been falsely passed off upon T h r u m by some Mormon zealot who was trying to h a r m Gibson's political cause. Andrew Jenson is the second writer criticized in the "revisit." His "History of the Hawaiian Mission" and an article titled "Walter M u r r a y Gibson," 4 which appeared in 1900, are mentioned. But Jenson's works are dismissed with these words: " I n both his 'History' and in his article, Jenson used T h r u m ' s Shepherd Saint as one of his primary sources" and "But, most Gibson accounts have relied on Andrew Jenson's views, and, in turn, Thomas G. T h r u m ' s Shepherd Saint of Lanai"5 T h e objective here is to discredit Jenson because he used T h r u m as a primary source. But, nothing is said to prove the invalidity of either T h r u m or Jenson. 3

Ibid., p. 144. Improvement Era 4 ( 1 9 0 0 ) : 4 - 1 3 , 8 6 - 9 5 . "Barrett, "Gibson Revisited," pp. 144, 161. 4


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According to the "revisit," Jenson's article appears to be based primarily on one source, T h r u m . Such is not the case. Jenson, who lists his sources in a footnote on the first page, used church documents, U.S. government records (probably those used by T h r u m ) , Biography and Family Records of Lorenzo Snow by his sister Eliza R. Snow Smith, The Shepherd Saint of Lanai by Thomas G. T h r u m , Honolulu and San Francisco newspapers, and his own notes taken in interviews in Hawaii in 1895. Obviously, Jenson's article on Gibson depends on many sources. His "History of the Hawaiian Mission" provides researchers with all of the information listed above, plus much more. Jenson quotes at great length from letters dated 1864 and 1865; from newspaper accounts of Gibson's actions and movements prior to his expulsion from the L D S church, as well as contemporary newspaper reports concerning the actual process of excommunication, the nature of the trial, the charges, and so on; and from W. W. Cluff, Joseph F. Smith, Alma L. Smith, and Ezra T. Benson, who were involved in the excommunication proceedings in Hawaii. Jenson also had access to the "Manuscript History of Brigham Young" which contains some important information on the Gibson period. T h e evidence found in the "History of the Hawaiian Mission" is sufficient to prove that the traditional view of Gibson as a man who stole Lanai from the L D S church was fully established from the day Gibson was excommunicated. Jenson wrote his works more than thirty years after the actual events had transpired, but the information he used was contemporary to the event. I n addition to the requirement of destroying the standard sources, it is helpful to uncover new sources of information that demand revision of the existing conclusions. It is asserted in the "revisit" that Diaries, letters, and journals heretofore not readily available to scholars do not substantiate the Thrum-Jenson interpretation of Gibson's missionary activities in the islands and cast some doubt upon the traditional view of his premiership. In the pages that follow, Gibson's Hawaiian activities— particularly those relating to the Mormon Church—will be considered in the light of this new information.6 8

Ibid., p. 144. A word about Barrett's historiography is in order. H e sometimes selects only those portions from his source materials that seem to support his thesis. Consider the quotation cited on pp. 149-50 (footnote 1 9 ) . Barrett says that "Gibson extolled Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball as men who had given 'all they had two or three times over to help build up the church in Missouri and Illinois' and told his correspondents that he intended to follow their example by doing all the good he could for the Saints in the Hawaiian Islands." But Barrett omits the rest of the sentence and thus changes its meaning, for after the word Illinois there is a semicolon and the sentence ends, " a n d now they are the richest men in the church." Another example of selecting only a portion of a statement out of context is found on p . 154 of the "revisit" wherein we read, "Later, Joseph F. Smith concluded that the course adopted





T h r e e classes of new information are pointed out by Barrett: diaries, letters, and journals. Perhaps the statement above is made only as a generalization, for a review of the sources used reveals the following: diaries: one cited, Gibson's of 1886-88, has nothing to add in revising prior opinions about his Mormon years; letters: many citations, almost all are found in the archives of the LDS church where they have been available to researchers for many years; journals: one is cited, the "Journal of President Brigham Young's Office." Also cited are eighteen books, two masters' theses, seven articles, eight different newspapers, the "Manuscript History of the Hawaiian Mission" by Jenson, and the papers of Joseph F. Smith. Most of the early materials have been available to scholars for many years. In fact, these are the same sources that previous scholars have used in arriving at their unfriendly conclusions concerning Gibson. T h e major questions relating to Gibson and the Latter-day Saints can be conveniently approached in this order: How and why did Gibson become involved with the Latter-day Saints? Was Gibson ever a devout, believing member of the church? When he was called on a mission to the islands, what authority did he carry with him to direct the church in those parts? Did he actually cheat the Hawaiian Latter-day Saints and steal the island of Lanai from them? What finally brought an end to Gibson's supremacy as leader of the Saints in Hawaii? Gibson's initial involvement with the Mormons relates closely to his previous experiences. Almost a decade before, while in Indonesia, he developed the idea that it might be possible for him to take control of an island and establish a kingdom or an empire in the Pacific. In 1856, prior to his joining the Mormon church, he combined this dream with his proposed solution to the " M o r m o n problem." In a letter to John M. Bernhisel, Utah's delegate to Congress, Gibson suggested that the entire Utah-based colony of Latter-day Saints be moved to Papua, New Guinea. 7 T h e plan was presented to the Buchanan administration, but it was deemed too expensive and impractical. by Gibson with regard to the gathering and the instructing of the people in agricultural pursuits had been just what was needed." But the context of the full quotation changes the entire feeling of Smith's remarks. T h e passage continues: "Altho' his cupidity led him to such extravagance in demanding labour of them that he would have 'played out' long before he could have succeeded in doing the natives any good even if that had been his design, but as it became apparent to many of them that his object was solley [sic] to acquire wealth at their expense, they became dissatisfied. . . . So when we arrive they were deserting him 30 at a time. [I]n two months not one remained except a few old settlers. . . ." T h e letter included other damning statements from Smith against Gibson. T h e important question here is why Smith is an acceptable source when he seems to support the revisionist point of view, but he is not accepted when he makes statements that go against the proposed new interpretation of Gibson's motives. 7 Musser, "Oceanic Adventurer," p. 1718.


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Gibson was not easily defeated. H e decided to visit U t a h and convert the church leaders to his scheme. H e wrote to Brigham Young: I have spent many years among the "isles that wait" for the Lord; and while I lay in a dungeon in the island of Java, a voice said to m e ; "you shall show the way to a people, w h o shall build u p a kingdom in these isles, whose lines of power shall run around the earth." My purposes of life were changed from that hour. . . . I have thought again and again, that your people were the people; and yet as often rejected the idea;-—but now I have resolved to come into your midst, and declare the b u r d e n of my spirit. 8

In the fall of 1859 Gibson journeyed to Salt Lake City. O n the day of his arrival the Deseret News said: Captain Gibson's object in visiting U t a h is to use his influence with President Y o u n g to get the Saints to move to New Guinea or Papua. . . . M r . Cxibson says that the only object he has in view in wishing to induce the M o r m o n s to go to New Guinea is in wishing to do good to the natives of the islands, as he believes t h e m to be descendants of the house of Israel. . . . President Young told him to investigate the Latter Day work, and if he found it to be true, and if he would be baptized, he would ordain him an Elder and send him and a few Elders to that people, a n d he could then do them more good that way than any other way he knew of.9

Gibson and his daughter stayed in Salt Lake City for the winter and in January 1860 were baptized. It can be suggested that Gibson joined the church in an effort to gain Young's support for his emigration plans. This seems to fit with his later actions. But another suggestion is also tenable, that Gibson was truly impressed with the political and economic ideas of the Saints. Perhaps he was not hypocritical in joining the church because he could see much good in the total system. H e later denied any belief in the doctrines of Mormonism, but he was consistent in his praise of the church's "system of social polity," as he termed it. In the spring of 1860 Gibson was sent on a mission to the eastern states. H e returned on November 4. Three weeks later President Young called Gibson on a mission to J a p a n and Malaysia, saying that "Gibson was going forth fully authorized to negotiate with all the nations of this world who would obey the gospel of Christ. . . ."10 Gibson left Salt Lake City an ordained high priest, one who had received his endowments or highest ordinations; but according to Joseph 8

Gibson to Young, May 30, 1859, Letters to Brigham Young (Msd 1234), Archives Division, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City. 8 Deseret News, October 29, 1859. 10 Deseret News, November 18, 1860.





Musser, when Gibson arrived at San Francisco on the way to his mission field he "disclaimed membership in the Mormon Church and delivered a series of lectures on 'Malaysia.' " At the same time, he reported the success of his lectures in letters to Brigham Young. 11 In these letters he claimed to be known as a Mormon. It appears that Gibson did associate with Latter-day Saints in California, but he was not open with nonmembers about his new religion. Gibson also had reason, as a missionary, to make his church affiliation known when he arrived in Honolulu, but he did not do so publicly. He arrived in Hawaii on July 4, 1861, identifying himself as a traveler and lecturer. After a two-month stay in Honolulu, he sailed to Lahaina, Maui, where he was found a month later presiding over the regular October conference of the Hawaiian Saints. His presence there was soon noticed by reporters from the Pacific Commercial Advertiser. They asked him many direct questions, among them whether he was a Mormon. H e answered that he had come here as the friend of the poor and despised class of our population, that his sympathies were with them. . . . We stated . . . that we were surprised that he did not, during his stay . . . in Honolulu, divulge the fact that he was a M o r m o n . . . . H e replied that he had not purposely made any concealments, that there were gentlemen in Honolulu who knew the fact. . . , 12

In a second interview in the Advertiser Gibson said that "he believed in no creed or sect whatever." When asked if he was converted to the doctrines of Mormonism, "he replied that he had not studied their doctrines or books, but had become convinced that the system of social polity practiced by them was the best to be found on the globe." A week later on October 24, 1861, another article appeared in the Advertiser in which Gibson was quoted as saying: " I care for no creed but for humanity, and love to work for those that are despised and have no friends." These statements are at odds with Barrett's assertion that when Gibson reached Hawaii "he began immediately to proselyte." 13 T h e general public did not know Gibson was a Mormon, but during this time Brigham Young received letters from Gibson, telling of his good works. T o read them without the benefit of concurrent sources such as the reports of the Advertiser, one would think that Gibson was working full-time for the benefit of the Hawaiian Saints. For example, Gibson's 11

Musser, "Oceanic Adventurer," p. 1720; Gibson to Young, June 8, 1861. " O c t o b e r 17, 1861. 13 Walter Murray Gibson, Diary, January 12, 1862, LDS Archives; Barrett, "Gibson Revisited," p. 145; Pacific Commercial Advertiser, October 1861.


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first letter to Young from Hawaii written six days after his arrival reported on his meeting several haole ("white") brethren, the resolution of some problems in the church, his intention to send twenty native elders on missions, his studying the native language, the gathering place in Lanai and how much it would cost to purchase, the estimated number of Saints in the islands, and so forth. Obviously, he had been very busy doing some checking, but Gibson had not immediately informed the Hawaiian Mormons that he was a member.14 In 1895 Andrew Jenson interviewed Kapo Kou, widow of J. W. H. Kou, whom Gibson had ordained an apostle. She reported that "for some time after Gibson's arrival, he visited among the whites at Honolulu and lectured, but did not tell at first that he was a 'Mormon.' On one occasion, however, he met with a select few . . . but they were [told] not to tell anybody about it for the time being."15 Two other items give perspective to the question of Gibson's motivations in connecting himself with the Latter-day Saints. Both of these, quoted in The Shepherd Saint, are extracted from the newspaper, Nuhou, which Gibson later founded. As editor he wrote: O u r temporary connection with the M o r m o n Community for a political object . . . is well known, and was never denied. We came here to carry out a scheme of emigration. . . .

A few days later he wrote: W h e n our shepherd had established himself merely as a squatter upon the island of Lanai, and in the valley of Palawai, in December 1861, he had gathered around a company of native people, w h o designed to form, u n d e r his direction, an industrial organization. H e proposed to establish a joint stock farm, a combination of labor and skill without one dollar of capital. . . .1C

His objectives were unusual for a Latter-day Saint missionary. But Gibson was a very unusual man. Is it fair to impugn his motives simply because he did not follow the typical life-style of a Mormon missionary? I believe that it is proper to argue that because Gibson was an experienced, full-time, ordained missionary, and because he had accepted a call to represent an organization that had established practices, he was under obligation to represent that organization honestly and openly. In time Captain Gibson did make himself known as a Mormon. More importantly, he became the leader of all Mormons in the islands. 14

Gibson to Young, July 10, 1861. Jenson, "History," June 30, 1861, LDS Archives. 16 Nuhou, April 18, 22, 1873, Archives of Hawaii, Honolulu. 15





Brigham Young had given him broad powers to "negotiate" with all the nations of the world. However, to negotiate is not to take over, direct, appoint, own, and collect in the name of the church. H e was a high priest, set apart by church authorities to be a missionary, and given a certificate stating that was the case.17 But, he did not have authority from the L D S church to act as "Chief President of the Islands of the Sea and of the Hawaiian Islands, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints." Considering that Gibson had wanted to go to J a p a n and Southeast Asia to do his mission work, how did he end up in Hawaii? T h e "revisit" states that Brigham Young "instructed" Gibson to go to Hawaii. "Instructed" is too strong a word. Actually, Young suggested to Gibson that he might "call at the Sandwich Islands, the Society Islands if you can make it convenient for there are many native brethren on those islands." 18 No special authority was given to Gibson by Brigham Young in any of the letters that subsequently passed between them. Later, Gibson was sustained by the Hawaiian Saints in the offices he claimed, but he had taken offices to himself without authorization from leaders in Salt Lake City. Gibson sent very lengthy letters to Young on a number of occasions. H e did not always report the full facts or the significance of what he was doing, but he did report. I a m now settled down on . . . this poor and remote stake of Zion. I have thought it best to ordain some Seventies; and some Aaronic priests attend to the duties of bishops; and the title loving natives have not been backward in giving them the new appelation. As this Oceanican b r a n c h ; as I desire to term it, is totally unqualified for gathering to the center stake in America, it will I trust meet your approval, that they should enjoy an organization after the pattern of the main body of the C h u r c h . Hence there has been established a First Presidency. . . . 19

Brigham Young did not mention this letter in later correspondence with Gibson. H e may have been too occupied with other matters to pay much attention to Gibson's moves. It is regrettable that Young missed the rather obvious hints that something was amiss. Around April 1862 Gibson organized a quorum of twelve apostles. H e did not report this to Young, 20 nor did he mention the creation of a new office, that of archbishop. 17 T h a t this certificate was unusually bedecked with ribbons and seals is mentioned by Barrett, "Gibson Revisited," p. 148. Presumbly Gibson had convinced Brigham Young that this added decoration would be more impressive to the rulers of Japan, Siam, Malaysia, etc. w Barrett, "Gibson Revisited," p. 148 ; Young to Gibson, M a r c h 5, 1861. " G i b s o n to Young, January 16, 1862. Italics added. Barrett also quoted from this letter but left out the portion that mentions the establishment of a first presidency. See Barrett, "Gibson Revisited," p. 154. 20 Jenson, "History," April 6, 1862.


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Another very serious action that Gibson did not report was simony, the sale of church offices. Apparently Gibson got into this business very early in his Hawaiian ecclesiastical career. According to the Advertiser: O n the table was a considerable a m o u n t of silver coin, which, as we learned from the natives, was obtained by selling to t h e m some blanks which also lay on the table. . . . These blanks are filled out to constitute Elders or other offices or members of the M o r m o n Church. 2 1

This selling of office became a standard practice in the mission. Thrum cites evidence that the practice continued, and Gibson's own letters admit the fact. In March 1862, the captain informed Hawaiian Foreign Minister Robert C. Wyllie that the accusations against him were true. He had received up to that time $65.50 for the issuance of certificates that entitled some Mormons to hold "petty offices" in the church. (Only Gibson could consider the office of apostle to be "petty.") The practice continued until he was excommunicated." Were Gibson's motives altruistic? His diary makes it abundantly clear that he was not interested in establishing a benevolent kingdom subject to the will of the people, but rather he wanted a kingdom to glorify himself: I could make a glorious little kingdom out of this, or any such chance, with such people; so loving and obedient. . . . I would fill this lovely crater with corn and wine and oil and babies and love and health and brotherly rejoicing and sisters kisses and the memory of me for evermore. I view him [the Hawaiian] and treat him as an interesting yet feeble younger brother, a subject of an oceanic empire. . . . W h o or w h a t shall I fear where I a m K i n g — a n d I shall keep within my K i n g d o m . . . . I a m K i n g ; not of oceanica, not of Malaysia, not of Hawaii nei, not of Lanai, but of Palawai on this day of grace. But this is but the baby of my K i n g d o m . O h smiling Palawai, thou infant hope of my glorious kingdom. 2 8

The major question relating to Walter Murray Gibson is whether or not he "cheated the Mormons." Is the tradition that Gibson stole lands owned by the church true? A civil case against him would be fairly easy to establish. As de facto trustee for the LDS church, Gibson collected money from 21

Pacific Commercial Advertiser, October 17, 1861. Gibson to Wyllie, n.d., received March 3 1 , 1862, Foreign Office and Executive File, Archives of H a w a i i ; see Sousa, "Gibson's Rise to Power," pp. 46-47. Certificates that Gibson signed may be found in a file titled "Walter M u r r a y Gibson" in LDS Archives and in the Gwynn Barrett Collection, Special Collections, Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo. See also letters from Gibson to Brother [Robert] Brown, February 19, 1862, LDS Archives. In the latter Gibson states: " I t must be distinctly understood; that no one holds any office, who is not furnished with a certificate. I send a few more than the list calls for. . . ." 2:1 Gibson to Wyllie, Pacific Commercial Advertiser, October 24, 1861; Jenson, "History," October 24, 1861 ; Gibson Diary, November 5, 1861, January 31, 1862. 22

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the Hawaiian Saints for the express purpose of using it to buy portions of the island of Lanai as a gathering place for the Hawaiian members of the church. He repeatedly told the Saints that this was the purpose of their contributions and sacrifices. But Gibson was guilty of using the collected funds for his own aggrandizement, thus laying himself open to judgment in a civil court.24 Barrett takes an entirely different view of this matter: In his efforts to acquire land for church purposes, Gibson soon learned that the members were too poor and too factious to be able to rally behind a land program. Therefore, he personally assumed the responsibility for the accumulation of property and in so doing he allowed the Saints to use his land as their own as long as he remained in the church. 2 5

There is no evidence in the sources to justify this assertion. By any normal standard, the Saints were too poor to buy the land. But they still contributed the funds that Gibson used to purchase the property. Even if one refuses to use Thrum's pamphlet—which contains numerous documents verifying the fact that the Saints gave much to purchase the land—there is ample evidence from Gibson's own pen to prove that, in fact, it was the Saints' money that purchased the land: As you know that the C h u r c h has but small means to commence any kind of establishment. I expect that some effort should be m a d e to bring in some contributions at the next conferences. Do you send word to the different branches about the time . . . and also to prepare their contributions of money, mats, and other articles to bring with them. 2 0 I have received contributions from the natives . . . to the sum of $353.00 for the purchase of land on this island or boats or the things for their use and I have distributed $360.00 for land, boat, payment of taxes, a n d so forth. 2 7

During the summer of 1862 Gibson continued to implement his plans to obtain land. He was eventually successful in getting title to the lands owned by Chief Haalelea, and he was also able to arrange a lease for many thousands of acres of government land. (He did not own all of Lanai as is sometimes said by present-day Latter-day Saints of Hawaii.) In a letter to George A. Smith in March 1864, Gibson said: "We have built a permanent stake and home for the saints in this island. I have 21 The author expresses gratitude to Dale A. Whitman, professor of law, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, for legal information. 25 Barrett, "Gibson Revisited," p. 153. 2,5 Gibson to Brown, August 1862, LDS Archives. Gibson wrote similar letters to Brown on Kauai every month during 1862 and into 1863 as well. These letters were given to Joseph F. Smith by Robert Brown in 1864. Smith submitted them to George A. Smith, church historian. 21 Gibson to Wyllie, received March 31, 1862.


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bought 6,000 acres of land and leased about 20,000." Barrett concludes, in view of the fact that other church leaders were purchasing property in their own names, that Gibson had every right to do so. The key issue, however, is not whether Gibson bought the property in his own name but whether his actions, then and later, demonstrate his supposedly altruistic motives.28 Late in 1863 letters arrived in Utah from a number of disgruntled Hawaiian elders who had left Lanai and who questioned the actions of Gibson. These letters were brought to the attention of the First Presidency, and on January 24, 1864, Brigham Young appointed Apostles Ezra T. Benson and Lorenzo Snow to go to Hawaii to investigate. Three former missionaries were to go with them as interpreters: William W. Cluff, Alma L. Smith, and Joseph F. Smith, who was to remain as mission president.29 These men arrived on Lanai on April 2 and began holding meetings with Gibson the next morning. The two apostles spent their time talking with him, while the others toured the island to inspect the changes that had been made. When it became apparent that the charges against Gibson were true, a meeting of the priesthood was held on April 7, 1864, at which it was proposed that Gibson be excommunicated. Only one Hawaiian elder voted for this proposition; evidently those who had remained in Lanai were still subject to his influence. The official excommunication took place a day later, at Lahaina, Maui. That only one Hawaiian voted to excommunicate Gibson is significant. It could be argued that the people loved and respected Gibson. After all they were not bonded slaves, nor were they forced to stay on Lanai. It is obvious that Gibson was respected. He had directed their lives for almost three years. A large percentage of the members of the church in Hawaii at that time had been converted during the years Gibson was in charge. It is not surprising that these people would question the authority and motives of strangers. Nevertheless, most of the Saints left Lanai within two months of learning of Gibson's excommunication. They now had alternative leaders (Joseph F. Smith, et al.) whom the older Hawaiians remembered, appreciated, and respected. It is also likely that they were relieved to be free from the obligation to gather at Lanai, a difficult place to live at best. 28 Gibson to George A. Smith, March 13, 1864, LDS Archives. This writer wonders why so many of the important accusations that have been made against Gibson were left out of the "revisit." Specifically omitted were the charge of simony, the taking of priesthood authority to himself without authorization, and insubordination, which was finally the cause of his excommunication. 29 "Manuscript History of Brigham Young," LDS Archives, January 24, 1864, hereafter cited as " M H B Y . "

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The first report of the Lanai events was written by Apostle Ezra T. Benson on April 12, 1864, four days after Gibson was excommunicated. We found that in the district of Palawai 6,000 acres of land had been bought by the Church. . . . T h e Saints had been constrained to turn over all their substance, horses, sheep, goats, poultry, houses and lands to the C h u r c h to gather u p to Lanai. . . . 3n

About a month later, on May 4, 1864, Joseph F. Smith wrote a letter to George Q. Cannon adding some details: We found that he had ordained twelve apostles. High priests, seventys, elders, bishops, and "priestesses of temples," all of w h o m had' to pay a certain sum corresponding to the various degrees of honor bestowed upon them. Gibson had bought the district of Palawai (6,000 acres) by the donation of the Saints, assuring them he was doing it all for them for the Church. H e persuaded them to give all they had to the C h u r c h and m a d e it a test of fellowship. A [any could not bear it and were excommunicated. . . . Brothers Benson and Snow required him to sign the land over to the C h u r c h as it was deeded to him and his heirs. This he flatly refused to do informing t h e m he should take his own course, that he was not sent here by the C h u r c h , had received no counsel from Brigham Young, h a d acted upon his own responsibility in w h a t he had done, and he was not beholding to the Church. 3 1

On April 29, 1864, Alma L. Smith wrote from Lahaina, Maui, adding still another dimension to the reports that, in sum, were damning to Gibson's character and behavior. After holding eight meetings with the Saints at various locations on Maui, he found the Saints in a very low and sunken condition, both spiritually and temporally. T h e r e were no meetings held on the island, no family prayers attended to. T h e y said the reason for this was that Gibson had not only instructed, but actually forbid them to hold meetings, preach the gospel, read the scriptures, or attend to family prayers. . . . H e told them that there had been enough of those spiritual things. . . . Almost everything they had in shape of property, such as horses, oxen, sheep, goats, hogs, fowls, houses, lands, farming utensils . . . he had prevailed upon them to turn over to him in behalf of the Church, promising them to buy a tract of land for the Saints upon these islands to gather upon. 3 2

The observations of Elders Snow and Benson concerning their missions and actions while in Hawaii were published in the Deseret News. After their report President Young "stated briefly that the charge against Walter Murray Gibson was not for owning property nor for claiming it, 30

Benson to Cannon, April 12, 1864, " M H B Y . " Joseph F. Smith to Cannon, May 4, 1864, " M H B Y . " 32 Deseret News, June 22, 1864; also Jenson, "History," April 29, 1864. 31


Utah Historical


for no one cared how much he had if he only did good with it to the poor who had given it,"3 but the charge was his persistent refusal to be dictated by the priesthood. . . ."34 Later sources that are significant are another letter from Joseph F. Smith, dated July 5, 1864, that tells how the people were mourning their losses of land, chapels, and other property; and a conference report by J o h n R. Young in October 1864 that discussed the "scattered," "brokenu p , " "disorganized state of the C h u r c h " at the time of the elders' arrival the previous April. 30 Probably the most quoted and most detailed L D S source concerning Gibson and the Mormons are the writings of W. W. Cluff who had accompanied the apostles when they visited Gibson on Lanai. d u f f ' s sixteen-page account of the entire Gibson affair from an eyewitness point of view appeared in print in 1882 as My Last Mission to the Sandwich Islands.™ This source was quoted almost verbatim by Eliza R. Snow Smith in her book, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, published in 1884, and hence Lorenzo Snow is frequently but mistakenly cited as the source of this narration. i T Andrew Jenson also used Cluff as a major source. Cluff's account agrees with that of Joseph F. Smith and John R. Young in 1864 as mentioned above. T h e point of all this is obvious. T h e historical sources relating to Gibson and the Mormons are too abundant and too unified to support the thesis that a new, more sympathetic appraisal of Gibson is in order. T h e sources also prove that the "tradition" of Gibson's stealing Lanai developed immediately after the event and not some years later as Barrett asserts. T h r u m was not the person who established this "tradition" nor was Andrew Jenson. 33 Barrett cited part of this article out of context, saying only, "Brigham Young, who was busy demonstrating his own business acumen in U t a h , said that neither he nor his associates cared how much property Walter Gibson acquired." Barrett, "Gibson Revisited," p. 153. 31 " M H B Y , " June 1, 1864 35 Deseret News, August 31, 1864; also " M H B Y , " same d a t e ; "Conference Report of the Sandwich Islands Mission Conference," October 1, 2, and 3, 1864, " M H B Y . " See also, John R. Young The Memoirs of John R. Young, Utah Pioneer, 1847 . . . (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1920), pp. 130-32. 38 It was number six of the Faith Promoting Series. 37 Barrett, "Gibson Revisited," p. 155.

Utah: A Bicentennial History. By C H A R L E S S. P E T E R S O N . T h e States and the Nation Series. (New York and Nashville, T e n n . : W. W. Norton and C o m p a n y and the American Association for State and Local History, 1977. X + 213 p p . $8.95.) T h e most impressive—and enduring —commemorative enterprise to emerge from the recent Bicentennial celebration is the series of fifty-one historical essays (one for each of the states plus the District of Columbia) sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and subsidized by the National E n d o w m e n t for the H u m a n i ties. Intended for t h a t ubiquitous creature, the "general reader," the volumes are "designed to assist the American people in a serious look at the ideals they have espoused and the experiences they have undergone in the history of the nation." T h e authors were given a formidable c h a r g e : to fashion within 75,000 words not a conventional history but "a s u m m i n g up—interpretive, sensitive, thoughtful, individual, even personal—of w h a t seems significant about each state's history." T h e selection of Charles S. Peterson, professor of history at U t a h State U n i versity, to write the U t a h installment was a h a p p y one. A rancher-turnedacademician, Peterson has intimate knowledge of the state—its people, its landscape, its history. His expertise and experience are evident throughout a slim yet weighty book that is a concise chronicle of U t a h ' s past as well as an excursus on the spirit, character, and heritage of its people. An outstanding example of the historian's craft, Utah ranks a m o n g the very best volumes yet published in a distinguished series.

Readers already familiar with the course of U t a h history will find few surprises in this survey of the two centuries from the Dominguez-Escalante expedition of 1776 to the Bicentennial of the American Revolution. T h e salient features of I n d i a n society, the activities of early explorers and trappers, the Mormon migration and colonization, the territorial tribulations, and the statehood movement are well known. But all will immediately recognize that this is a m u c h bigger book in terms of its contribution to and place in U t a h historiography t h a n is suggested by its 200 pages. In producing the most readable and reliable survey of U t a h history to date, Peterson has organized, integrated, and interpreted a vast a m o u n t of material with consummate skill. Here readers will find succinct, authoritative statements about major topics and trends in U t a h history ranging from church-state relations to ethnic cultures. T h e exposition of economic development from selfsufficient farming to commercial agriculture and ranching on the one h a n d and from the mining of precious metals (silver) to the extraction of industrial resources (oil, coal, and copper) on the other, is especially well done. Moreover, this book effectively brings U t a h historical writing into the twentieth century. It not only serves as a corrective to the pre-1896 orientation of most U t a h histories but also constitutes the best available account of the statehood years;

80 the final two chapters offer an incisive assessment of present-day U t a h coupled with perceptive projections into the third century. But the most important contributions of the book lie in the realm of interpretation. A review such as this cannot do justice to the rich interpretive texture of Peterson's historical tapestry, but it can spotlight some of the more conspicuous features. T w o d o m i n a n t themes form the w a r p and weft of the fabric. T h e one is environmental—the pervasive influence of climate, physiography, and natural resources (mainly water) on h u m a n activity in a land of unique geologic features; the other is sociological—the indelible imprint m a d e on the political, economic, social, and cultural life in the M o r m o n Zion by a fundamentally theocratic, essentially monolithic, a n d basically clannish people over the past 130 years. T h e major motif of the work is statein-nation. Peterson consistently—and to better effect than I have seen it done before—views U t a h history in the context of the national experience, showing U t a h ' s contribution to the larger United States and, as is more often the case, demonstrating the impact of national affairs on U t a h . Finally, a series of subtle, sometimes implied, long-term analyses give unprecedented unity and meaning to the mosaic that is U t a h history. For example, the book makes it clear t h a t U t a h has always been a special w a r d of the national government and that because of federal control over such things as reclamation projects, mineral exploitation, environmental standards, a n d defense contracts, Washington, D . C , holds the key to the present and future prosperity of the state. It is obvious, too, t h a t despite the a n n u a l glorification of the Days of '47, U t a h n s have long since a b a n d o n e d most of the distinctive practices and precepts of the pioneers; from the "maverick" tradition of the early years derived from

Utah Historical


the individualistic, innovative, dissenting, even radical thoughts and deeds of leaders and followers alike has emerged a solid and stolid society marked by conservatism and conformity. It is also evident that along with the secularization that undermined the attempt of "a people a p a r t " to live in but not be of the world, it was the coming of the Gentile — a n d with him railroads, mining, and cultural pluralism—that both put U t a h into the mainstream of American history and gave definition to M o r m o n society; the fullest expression of Mormonism today is the isolated, rural villages, while the heart of U t a h is dynamic, progressive, prosperous Salt Lake City, the least M o r m o n place in M o r m o n d o m . I n short, while there is a "Different World of U t a h , " the mainstream characteristics of the state are far more significant t h a n its maverick qualities. T h e most conspicuous (and controversial) position of the book is that dealing with the Mormons. Featuring the d o m i n a n t religious group in the state is essential to Peterson's story, for the Latter-day Saints have always comm a n d e d center stage in the d r a m a of U t a h history. (Indeed it is the M o r m o n heritage that makes U t a h the only continental state with a truly unique history.') Peterson's treatment of the Mormons is sensitive, judicious, perceptive, and overwhelmingly secular in orientation. His is a difficult job well done, but it might have been even better. T h e rather matter-of-fact coverage and the reserved, even cautious, tone of chapter two stand in sharp contrast with the easy, free-wheeling, and incisively analytical writing that marks the rest of the book. T o my mind he does not emphasize enough—in this chapter or in others— either the awesome power of the Morm o n church in public affairs or the intensity of the deep-seated suspicion, resentment, and antagonism that have characterized Mormon-Gentile relations.

Book Reviews and Notices M o r e important, there is much information here—e.g., the detailed accounts of the 1847 migration and early missionary and colonizing ventures—that is not really part of U t a h history. T r e a t m e n t of M o r m o n history might well have been condensed in favor of an expanded discussion of Mormonism—those attitudes, assumptions, perceptions, and behavior patterns that have had such a profound influence upon every aspect of life in the Beehive State. T h e author deserves special commendation on several counts. First, while writing principally for a general audience assumed to have little or no prior knowledge of the subject, he adheres throughout to the highest standards of scholarship; as Utah demonstrates, academic rigor and popular history are not incompatible. Second, his coverage is unusually comprehensive: the book touches upon virtually every topic and personality of significance in U t a h history, and if the treatment is sometimes simple (but never simplistic) or sketchy such is preferable in a book of this kind to selective coverage. Third, this is an honest, even courageous, book. Peterson discusses with candor and evenhandedness such emotive matters as polygamy, nativism, the M o u n t a i n M e a d o w Massacre, Indian-white relations, M o r m o n dom's "polity of matrimony," and the L D S church's denial of the priesthood to Blacks. This is, in short, first-rate history scrupulously faithful to the record. T h e major shortcomings of the book are not attributable to the author. T h e questionable space limitation imposed by the sponsor has produced untoward brevity; important topics, trends, and personalities are unavoidably given short shrift. T h a t still other subjects are treated superficially is a reflection of the state of U t a h historiography. Although incorporating m u c h of the author's own research, Utah is primarily a work of synthesis. T h e quality of the coverage of a given topic reflects in part the

81 nature of extant literature, and the lacunae in U t a h historiography are legion, especially in the area of social history and the statehood era. All things considered, Peterson has rendered a masterful job of synthesis and in so doing has provided a suggestive guide to needs and opportunities for future research. Nor is the author responsible for the execrable index. Dozens of important people, places, and things mentioned in the text are not indexed—e.g., Alta, Corinne, Park City, T h o m a s L. K a n e , J o h n M. Bernhisel, and the Deseret News. Partial indexing is even more frequent. For example, the index notes mention of the Salt Lake Tribune on pages 167 and 169, but not on pages 73, 9 b H I , 135, and 172; there are four descriptive references to M e r c u r on pages 111 and 112, but nothing for pages 110 and 113; about one-half or less of the textual references to George Q . C a n n o n , George Dern, William Godbe, T h o m a s Kearns, and Wilford Woodruff are noted. Moreover, the indexing is capricious. Institutions of higher learning are not indexed by name, and there is no listing for churches, religious institutions, or individual denominations. T h e r e are, however, single-reference listings for the U t a h Civic Ballet, money, artists, divorce: high rate of, exodus: crossing the plains, and horse-riding. I mention this conspicuous deficiency because many people w h o pick u p a book of this genre turn first to the index seeking information about a particular person, locality, or subject. Someone has done an inexcusable disservice to both author and reader. A photographer's essay by Joe M u n roe, a pictorial portfolio of fifteen photographs that emphasizes the primacy of the environment in U t a h life, effectively complements the text. However, the commonplace "American Gothic" portrait of a H u r r i c a n e farmer and the m u n d a n e snapshot of a motor-

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82 cyclist tearing u p the shore of the Great Salt Lake d o seem i n a p p r o p r i a t e ; the omission of a recreational scene is inexplicable. T h e r e are always nits to pick, a n d readers will quarrel a n d quibble about various points of emphasis a n d interpretation along the way. But that is simply to say, as Carl Becker would have it, that every m a n is his own historian. Although others might have written a different book, none could have written The


of the Latter-day



a better one. M a k e n o mistake: Utah is an extraordinary achievement, a work of synthesis as well as original research that has both popular a n d scholarly dimensions. For persons seeking either an introduction to U t a h history or the best one-volume treatment of the subject, this is the right book.



of Utah

By J A M E S B. A L L E N a n d G L E N M . LEONARD.

(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976. X i + 722 p p . $9.95.) T h e idea of a usable past is as old as history itself. T h e collective memory of the h u m a n race has always been selective. W e remember w h a t we want to remember—or sometimes w h a t we have to remember. I n either case, the present is the father of the past. T o say, then, that the Mormons have been reconstructing a past of their own for more than a century is merely to state the obvious, especially since most Latterday Saints are familiar with one of the great monuments to that tradition, Joseph Fielding Smith's Essentials in Church History. Written in 1921, when the church h a d barely emerged from nearly a h u n d r e d years of persecution, Essentials provided a providential framework for that struggle. I t was the story of God's people pitted against a wicked a n d hostile world, a perspective from which it instructed two generations of M o r m o n s in their past. T h e purpose of Essentials was to increase "faith in the gospel, to build testimony." The Story of the Latter-day Saints was commissioned in the hope of serving "the same needs that Essentials in Church History had provided for so many years." A n d superficially, at least, it fulfills that hope. F a r superior in scholarship to Essentials^ it is nevertheless a n unabashed apologia for Mor-

monism. Although its two authors were trained in secular universities, "their interpretation reflects their own orientation as devout believers in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ." A careful reading of The Story makes it clear that these are not the kind of obligatory disclaimers of two scholarly wolves in sheep's clothing. T o students familiar with the documentary record of church history it is obvious that the authors have emphasized the positive side of the achievement of Mormonism, playing down those issues that they perhaps see as having a potential for raising doubts in the hearts of the faithful or that m a y present Mormonism a n d its leaders in an unfavorable light. I n my criticism of specific examples of this approach I want to make it clear, however, that I d o not w a n t to impose my own secular orientation on the authors. Neither do I wish to chide them for a lack of that overrated commodity, objectivity. I do not mean, of course, that I encourage blatant bias. At the same time, all good history has a point of view. Indeed, if I a m critical of Allen's a n d Leonard's approach, it is because I believe they could have developed a more clearly defined hypothetical perspective. This kind of conceptual rigor might have allowed them

Book Reviews



to distance themselves more fully from the Essentials in Church History paradigm and develop a framework for the history of Mormonism that would have diminished the need for a defensive posture. As it is, I find the book standing half-way between the old world of Essentials and that potentially modern world of hypothetically guided and conceptually rigorous scholarship. T h e i r discussion of the first vision is an interesting illustration of this ambivalence. It goes without saying that Mormonism stands or falls with this sacred event. Yet, because of its very nature, it is not amenable to historical investigation. T h e history of the accounts of the vision, however, is grist for the historian's mill. Because the church has chosen to canonize in the Pearl of Great Price an edited version of an account Joseph Smith dictated to scribes in the late 1830s, even such an investigation is fraught with difficulties. Although I doubt that anyone is more conversant with the textual and historical complexities surrounding the documentation of the vision than Professor Allen, the authors allow their readers barely a glimpse into that fascinating subject. In all fairness, however, they have provided readers familiar with the difficulties an opportunity to read between the lines as they reconstruct Joseph's story with "direct quotations . . . from various accounts" rather than utilizing the official "standard account" as the authors diplomatically put it. If the authors' cautious treatment of this sensitive topic is understandable, their gloves-on approach to the character of Joseph Smith seems less justifiable. I find it very curious that to this day Mormons have accepted the fallacious logic of their enemies—such as Philastus Ilurlbut's, w h o thought he could disprove Mormonism by making the prophet a p p e a r as a scoundrel—by investing a great deal of time and energy to prove that Joseph and his family were

83 of sound character. It is all very well for us to learn that the Smiths had a solid New England heritage, but this does not tell us very much about the truth or falsehood of Mormonism. Allen and Leonard, to be sure, purport to engage in a candid discussion of Joseph's autobiographical admissions concerning his own frailties. Yet, they base their account on the official, expurgated version published in B. H. Roberts's edition of the History of the Church and the Pearl of Great Price, rather than on the original but potentially more controversial version in the church archives. Indeed, it is rather surprising and disconcerting that in all too many instances the authors seem to have relied on secondary accounts rather than on the primary documents housed in the very building where they work. O t h e r sensitive issues on which the authors are less than candid—although they do not pretend to be anything else —are the relationship between Mormonism and Freemasonry, the M o u n tain M e a d o w Massacre, and the "Negro question." T h e treatment of the latter is particularly bland and is implicitly dismissed as one of a n u m b e r of "passing questions" of the 1960s and 1970s. D o the authors know something here the rest of us do not? Although one of the stated reasons for the publication of the Story was the acquisition of " m u c h new material . . . by the C h u r c h Archives dealing with the events of Church history," in some sensitive areas M o r m o n scholars are already burdened with more facts than they find advisable to handle. For this reason I a m inclined to disagree with those historians who regard the current publication program of the historical d e p a r t m e n t as p r e m a t u r e and who would much prefer to see a scholarly edition of the papers of Joseph Smith and his successors conducted along the same principles of critical scholarship that distinguishes the m o n u m e n t a l edi-

84 tions of the Jefferson Papers, the Adams Papers, and those of a half-dozen other distinguished Americans. It would merely increase the tension between uncomfortable facts and the need to explain them. And yet, what may be a tough nut to crack for U t a h M o r m o n s may be less of a problem for those in Tokyo or Rio or Munich, for the simple reason that many of the church's historical dilemmas are a result of its stormy relationship with the United States and American culture. As a world religion, Mormonism could afford to be much less defensive about that relationship. Although the authors pay lip service to the idea that Mormonism was an antipluralistic religion in a pluralistic American environment, they fall short of documenting the central fact that plural marriage, economic communitarianism, and the political kingdom of God established the new religion as an alternative to the presumed deficiencies of capitalistic, individualistic, competitive nineteenthcentury American society. By proposing a complete reorganization of h u m a n life, of society, economics, and politics, Mormonism stood in opposition to what has been called the "denominational contract" of the Protestant churches whose goals, even as their institutions grew larger and larger, "encompassed ever narrower portions of life." T h a t is, of course, precisely the position from which twentieth-century Mormonism has retreated, having entered into its own "denominational contract." For Allen and Leonard, w h o are "impressed with the dynamics of change within the C h u r c h , " such a metamorphosis presents no great interpretive difficulties, especially since these earlier manifestations of Mormonism are implicitly dismissed as being unessential "to certain central religious truths." (By definition, these are those truths that have survived.) T h e authors clinch their point by arguing that the early Saints

Utah Historical


were motivated primarily by religious rather than political, social, and economic impulses. This interpretation of Mormonism solves a n u m b e r of knotty historical problems, such as how to deal with the secular activities of Joseph Smith. I n their discussion of the Kirtland debacle, the authors observe that "some of Joseph Smith's closest associates failed to separate his roles as prophet and religious leader from his activities in the temporal world." From a modern M o r m o n perspective perhaps they should have. As the authors tell us, "His failure in business had nothing to do with the integrity of his religious experiences. O t h e r honest men failed, too, and so did much of the economy of western America in 1837." Such an exegesis rests on the assumption that it is possible to separate religious from economic and political motivations in early Mormonism. But w h a t m a d e early Mormonism so distinctive is that all its concerns were religious in the larger sense. Its world view was holistic, of one piece. Such a perspective might have stood the authors in good stead in their attempt to explain Mormon-Gentile conflict. As it is, their search for an alternative interpretation to that of Essentials ("the influence of the devil and his servants will be used against the Kingd o m of G o d " ) raises questions of logic and perspective. T a k e their discussion of the Missouri difficulties. T h e y begin with an accurate description of Joseph's grand design for Zion: " T h e ideal, according to Joseph Smith, was to fill this city, then another one next to it, and so on as needed to 'fill u p the world in these last days.' Independence, Missouri, would be the Center Place." T h a t such plans, however peaceful their intention, would arouse the anxieties of the Gentiles, seems a reasonable assumption. Yet, in discussing "the feelings of the Missourians," the authors call them "misplaced," implying that the Gentiles

Book Reviews and Notices merely misunderstood the intentions of the Saints. In their attempt to be fair to both sides, the authors at times also chide the Saints—however gently—for failing to understand their adversaries. This a p p r o a c h is congenial with our modern ecumenical age of accommodation and goodwill. Having been led to believe that most of our problems are problems of communication, we have been taken in by Henrietta Huxley's aphorism that "to understand all is to forgive all." As a result, the authors have reduced Mormon-Gentile conflict to a catalog of "misunderstandings." In my opinion, this is a misreading of the nature of the controversy. We have here a contest between two diametrically opposed world views and social systems. As a result, no a m o u n t of goodwill on either side could have mitigated conflict. Indeed, it is possible to argue that "misunderstandings" helped to ease tension in more than one instance. H o w would the Gentiles have responded had they truly understood the n a t u r e of plural marriage, of economic cooperation, of the political kingdom of G o d ? A strong case can be m a d e that nineteenthcentury Mormons were persecuted precisely to the degree to which they were understood, while twentieth-century Mormonism is tolerated to the degree to which it has conformed to the essential cultural norms of American society. T h a t kind of message would be deeply disturbing to m a n y Mormons w h o cannot yet be expected to take their history "cold," as it were. This may well be one reason why the authors have played it safe. Yet, although the book should not offend the majority of Latterday Saints, it nevertheless has great potential for teaching them about a past somewhat different from that presented in Essentials. Perhaps the most important lesson M o r m o n s can learn from The Story of the Latter-day Saints is that history— yes, even M o r m o n history—operates in

85 space and time. T a k i n g advantage of important recent scholarship, the authors show that Mormonism arose within a social, intellectual, and cultural environment. A striking example is their discussion of "Christian Primitivism," a loosely structured movement that looked to the "restoration of the ancient order of things" and that prepared many seekers—among them Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Eliza R. Snow, and J o h n Taylor—for the message of Joseph Smith. Another example is the Word of Wisdom. Although the authors accept Joseph Smith's inference that these dietary rules came to him by way of revelation, they also inform their readers that questions regarding diet may well have been raised in the prophet's mind by contemporary American temperance movements. They effectively sum u p their perspective by writing that "revelation, Mormons believe, usually comes in response to present needs and specific problems, and m u c h of Joseph Smith's new revelation reflected the contemporary search for a harmonious world view that would reconcile otherworldliness and materialism. H e thus provided answers to questions that also prompted other religious leaders and philosophers to suggest new world views." O n e of the most important of these was T h o m a s Dick, whose Philosophy of a Future State appeared in a second edition in 1830. According to Allen and Leonard, this Christian materialist "projected an eternally progressing afterlife" that had "striking parallels with the Prophet's revelations of the early 1830s on the degrees of glory and the eternal nature of the elements." T h e y are careful, of course, to distinguish between "parallels" a n d "influence." Still, their candid a p proach here is refreshing. Equally refreshing is their recognition that Mormonism evolved. N o doubt some M o r m o n readers may be surprised and perhaps even dismayed to learn that the Word of Wisdom " h a d been

Utah Historical

86 stressed more firmly in some periods t h a n others, usually during times of spiritual reform, b u t until President Grant's administration it was not compulsory for advancement in the priesthood or entrance to the temples. Some C h u r c h leaders had urged this, and many local leaders h a d required it, and in the early 1930s it became a standard requirement for church advancement and temple recommends." Some readers may be even more surprised to learn that contemporary c h u r c h organization, especially that of priesthood quorums and auxiliaries, has not been w h a t it is today from time immemorial. These are b u t a few of numerous instances in which the authors apply a historical a p p r o a c h to questions of faith and doctrine. F u r t h e r m o r e , they are not above pointing to occasional mistakes and blunders, such as the enthusiasm of some mission presidents in the 1960s "for making records" a n d encouraging "young missionaries to baptize people before they were truly converted" or the razing of historic church structures for the sake of efficiency and "progress." Given the immensity of the topic this is a rather short book. Yet, it is surprising how m u c h information the authors have managed to c r a m into 638 pages of copiously (but sometimes less t h a n attractively) illustrated text. F o r


Cross: Patterns


readers of a scholarly bent a bibliography of largely secondary works comprising sixty-two pages opens u p a realm of M o r m o n studies only hinted at in the text. T o me this impressive scholarly tool alone is worth the price of admission. I t also suggests that if the authors have avoided discussion of certain controversial subjects, it is not from ignorance but from choice. In spite of my reservations, I wish to emphasize that given the dilemma imposed upon the authors by the nature of their assignment, their achievement deserves more than just faint praise. Although committed Latter-day Saints, they were foredoomed to earn the disapproval of the M o r m o n antiintellectuals, while as professional historians they could not possibly hope for the unqualified approval of their academic peers. The Story of the Latter-day Saints, of course, is not addressed to either group. I t should be gratifying to the authors that their work has already become a best-seller among Mormons, indicating that it is filling a real need, thus making it unnecessary for me to admonish readers to go out and buy the book. K L A U S J.


Queen's University Kingston, Ontario

and Profiles of a Ci ty. By A R L E N E H . E A K L E , ADELIA BAIRD, Woods Cross City Council, 1976. 60 p p .

a n d GEORGIA W E B E R . (Woods Cross, U t .

Paper, $5.00.) Woods Cross is one of several histories of Davis County communities produced for the American Bicentennial commemoration, reflecting an increased historical interest on the part of local writers and residents, as well as the conviction of town councils that a community history would be a meaningful contribution to the Bicentennial observance. O t h e r Davis County Bicentennial

efforts are Leslie T . Foy's The City Bountiful, M a r y Ellen Smoot's and Marilyn Sheriff's The City In-Between (Centerville), Margaret Steed Hess's My Farmington, and Carol I. Collett's Kaysville, Our Town. These works largely follow the traditional format of local histories: a narrative a n d / o r topical sections dealing with the community past, many old pictures, and a long biographi-

Book Reviews and Notices cal section. A second volume of Woods Cross history, to be published in 1978, will possibly be more along these traditional lines. T h e present volume is very different from the typical local history. More a magazine than a book, it was produced as a sort of community awareness project, designed to appeal principally to the current residents of Woods Cross and to develop in them a sense of belonging, since many are newcomers. A very creative attempt has been made to attract the attention of all residents, not just old-timers proud of pioneer ancestors' contributions to the town, by designing each page of this history as a separate unit built around events and people connected with a particular street in the community. In most cases half of each page is taken u p by a current diagram of the street showing heads of households. T h e rest of the page is filled with photos a n d documents but mainly with a short sketch, frequently anecdotal, of some aspect of the community's past or present. Old-time themes include the legend regarding how Woods Cross was named, the reason the community layout differs from the typical M o r m o n village pattern, water problems of all sorts, plural marriage, the initial emphasis on community self-sufficiency a n d the later shift to commercial agriculture a n d stock raising, pioneer homes, a n d the contributions of women. More contemporary subjects also appear, such as the police force, the high incidence of multiple births on one of the streets, the development of the community park, the oil refineries surrounding the community, a n d the building of Woods Cross High School. Mormon


87 This is local history in small doses, hopefully m a d e appealing by relating the stories told to the reader's own neighborhood or to his acquaintances in the community. O n e does learn a good deal about life in Woods Cross and the factors which have shaped the community. T h e historical training of Ms. Eakle, w h o appears to be the principal author, is evident in the selection of subject matter a n d in the careful attention to historical context. T h e snatches of Woods Cross history presented in this volume whet the appetite for the fuller account of town life promised in volume 2. T h e present work does have some limitations. Its principal value m a y be as a community scrapbook a n d a booster for the longer forthcoming work. Because of space limitations the historical sketches are often full of "inside" information not readily accessible to any but the long-time Woods Cross resident. T h e authors at times go beyond informing the community to educating them in basic historical methods, such as the use of population pyramids, how to recognize Greek Revival architecture, a n d the analysis of photographs as historical documents. These portions a r e not well integrated into the work a n d would be better handled in a community history workshop. And the book would have been improved by the services of a good copy editor. Still, it is a needed reminder that there is more than one way to present the history of a town.


Historical Department Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

to 1846: A Guide to the Holdings

of the Harold B. Lee


Compiled by H Y R U M L. A N D R U S a n d R I C H A R D E. B E N N E T T . (Provo, U t . : H a r o l d

B. Lee Library, 1977. X x + 2 3 1 p p . $4.95.) T h r o u g h long hours in the archives, historians acquaint themselves with the

manuscript sources useful in writing the history of the L D S church. Family his-

88 torians and casual researchers seldom take the time, however, and thus these valuable materials remain u n k n o w n to them. Now two archivists at Brigham Y o u n g University have produced a guide to early M o r m o n history sources at the university's library. This volume, in process for several years, is published as a paperback. It has a nice appearance, contains appropriate photographs, and makes an important contribution to finding aids on Mormonism. I n the book, Andrus and Bennett identify 591 separate collections containing manuscripts for the period u p to 1846. They fully identify each collection with a main entry, title, format, and size. Especially valuable is the abstract of the contents of each collection. For biographical entries they add some genealogical information. Persons working on family histories will find this last information useful. T h e guide identifies a large n u m b e r of biographies and autobiographies, most of them short, but nevertheless they are important. For most collections the editors offer a short content note or abstract. For collections they judged more important they have written longer descriptions as, for example, in the collections of Joseph Smith and Newel K. Whitney where in some instances they have described every item. Researchers using this guide will appreciate this extra information where it is given. M a n y archivists will take issue with this arbitrariness and wonder why the guide was not more balanced in its coverage. Archivists will argue that detail below the collection level should have been reserved for registers and calendars, not included in a general guide. This guide has other problems. For one thing, many of the entries describe microfilm or other copies where the original is not at BYU. I n their introduction, the compilers have identified the institutions from which the

Utah Historical


library has obtained copies, but the guide itself does not locate specific collections. Such information could have been added without distracting from the existing format, and it would have expanded the guide's usefulness for researchers. Some of the items are apparently miscatalogued. T h e result will be to mislead users. O n e example is item 96, legal cases involving the trustees-in-trust of the L D S church in Nauvoo. These have been catalogued under the full name of the church, even though it appears that they are Hancock County records. An annoyance is the decision to list materials produced by departments and general offices of the church u n d e r the full n a m e of the church and not even include the name of the originating office. A more accurate and more useful designation would have been also to use the name of the respective d e p a r t m e n t or office. This last problem is reflected in the index, where, for example, the minutes of the Female Relief Society of N a u v o o a p p e a r u n d e r the full n a m e of the church rather than u n d e r Relief Society. T h e index itself does little more than repeat m a i n entries already alphabetically arranged in the guide. T h e r e are only a few subject categories, and some of these are of little use in finding items. Consistency is lacking in two important features of the guide. O n e of these is the use of two different types of sizings —items and boxes—for large collections. T h e normal way is to use linear feet with large collections and items when smaller than one foot. Another inconsistency is the failure to locate the full given n a m e for all authors. T o o frequently the editors have used a middle initial where research would have provided the n a m e : Almon W. Babbitt instead of Almon Whiting Babbitt, for example. Despite its shortcomings, Mormon Manuscripts to 1846 is worth the rea-

Book Reviews



sonable purchase price for students, family historians, and scholars interested in early M o r m o n history. Additional guides to manuscript holdings in U t a h and M o r m o n history are sorely needed. It is only to be hoped that future

89 volumes will more closely follow accepted archival standards. R O N A L D G.


Historical Department Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

From Quaker to Latter-day Saint: Bishop Edwin D. Woolley. By LEONARD J. A R RINGTON. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976. Xiv + 592 p p . $6.95.) W h e n a private family organization commissions a historian to produce a biography of a revered ancestor, one usually suspects the objectivity of the interpretation. It is not easy to please all the emotionally involved family members and still maintain historical integrity. U n d e r the adroit h a n d of Dr. Leonard Arlington, however, this particular biography should come as close as humanly possible to achieving both these ends. Indeed, this particular volu m e will probably become a model for family biographies to come and rightly so. Described as a "middle-wagon m a n " in the caravan of M o r m o n history, Edwin Dilworth Woolley epitomizes the stalwart frontier bishop and supporter of the faith that m a d e the visions of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young become a reality. T h e term "middle-wagon m a n " should by no means intimate that Edwin Woolley was simply an average member of the M o r m o n founding and pioneer movements. An aggressive and successful entrepreneur, he had considerable influence over early economic developments and policies of the church. As a bishop he also played a very significant role in the early development of church auxiliary organizations, most notably the Y M M I A and Y W M I A , the Sunday School, and Primaiy. He was a "middle-wagon m a n " because he represented the hard-working bishops who provide the backbone of the L D S church's administrative organization but was never called upon by the prophet to become one of its General Authorities.

T h e book was written with a much broader audience in mind than the Woolley family, and although it gives considerable insight into Edwin Woolley, the m a n , it perhaps succeeds even better in presenting a picture of the milieu of nineteenth-century U t a h . As mentioned, considerable attention is given to the development of the state's economic base a n d men like Brigham Young, Joseph Heywood, E d w a r d H u n t e r , etc., with w h o m Edwin Woolley worked. Also treated with some new insights are the U t a h War, and the "Big M o v e , " when the Saints left their homes in Salt Lake City and moved to U t a h County as federal troops moved into the valley. T h e general M o r m o n audience will find the book containing numerous fascinating "tidbits" concerning changes that have occurred over the years in various church traditions, such as: the convention to nominate Joseph Smith for president (p. 123), the use of prayer circles (p. 2 8 9 ) , the sacrament (p. 3 2 9 ) , the role of the ward teachers (pp. 3 3 2 - 3 3 7 ) , the strongly worded preaching that used to flavor the meetings (p. 3 4 9 ) , the Godbeite controversy (pp. 433, 4 4 3 ) , etc. T h e title of the work could perhaps have been better chosen in that Woolley's Q u a k e r background does not seem to determine a separate M o r m o n development distinct from that of those pioneers with Presbyterian, Baptist, or Roman Catholic heritage—but this is of little consequence. As always, the high point of any of Dr. Arrington's books is the quality of scholarship that so con-

90 fidently provides the reader with greater insight into M o r m o n heritage through newly discovered and interpreted original diaries, letters, and documents. T h e best of Arrington's recent biographies on early Latter-day Saint pioneers, this work likewise shows his expert training as historian, economist, a n d writer. I t is through works such

Utah Historical


as this that the color and perspective are added to the tapestry of historical development. I only hope that more such works are vet to come.

D E L M O N T R.


Utah Endowment for the Humanities

Carvalho: Artist—Photographer—Adventurer—Patriot; Portrait of a Forgotten American. By JOAN S T U R H A H N . (Merrick, N.Y.: Richwood Publishing Co., 1976. X x + 226 p p . $22.50.) This work on Solomon Nunes Carvalho is on a subject whose time has come. T h e Bicentennial celebration, along the way, brought to light the culture of the early republic; and, in the country generally today research in the American West is mounting. Carvalho merits a not undistinguished place in early western art. And his journal of Fremont's fifth expedition is invaluable, and perhaps unique, as a portrayal of the more remote areas of the Rocky M o u n t a i n West as they were a h u n d r e d and twenty years ago. (Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West, New York, 1857.) Ms. S t u r h a h n ' s book is a biography of Solomon Nunes C a r v a l h o and a history of his family as matrix, providing all the known facts and probabilities. Portraits and self-portraits—both daguerreotypes and paintings—are closely related to the text. Researching about Carvalho since 1969, she has discovered, she says, a new body of his paintings a n d photos, along with written sources of information about "this versatile man." T h e book proceeds largely as commentary, piece by piece. T h e author sees the artist as a Renaissance m a n : artist in the two media, scientific observer of flora and fauna and mineral resources (see his observations m a d e on the road to and in U t a h ) , adventurer, writer, inventor, and m a n of business.

In his later years, when he could no longer do art, he promoted his invention "An Entirely New Steam Superheating System by Hot W a t e r Circulation U n d e r Pressure." It was awarded the Medal of Excellence by the American Institute in New York. In the Jewish community, he was founder, builder, spokesman, educator; a friend and ally of Rabbi Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia, the shepherd of American Jewry in the middle nineteenth century, both striving to keep O r t h o d o x Judaism healthy. T h e Hebrew Benevolent Society was close to his heart in Los Angeles as in Charleston. H e played chess as a member of the Baltimore Chess Club. In short, he was a restless person of the nineteenth century, American-individual, progressive, communal-Jewish, family oriented, perfect in integrity. Carvalho lived from April 27, 1815, to M a y 2, 1894. He worked as artist from 1834-35 until the late 1860s, about thirty years. H e was quite alone as a Jewish artist in his day. H e painted not only in Charleston but also in Baltimore, Philadelphia, California and, of course, U t a h . We get a whole chapter on Charleston, Carvalho's native city, in which facts are swept together to create the impression of a classically lovely city bustling with painters and daguerreotvpists. celebrities of the day, several of whom are still remembered, like T h o m a s Sully, S. F. B. Morse, and Washington

Book Reviews and Notices Allston, to explain how young Solomon Nunes might have got started, because who his teacher was is uncertain. T h e several self-portraits gathered in this book show Carvalho tall and h a n d some, gentle, looking like a Romantic poet or a learned young rabbi. In later years he is a large m a n , imposing, still handsome and alive, with a flowing, gray beard. Always, the intelligent eyes. Confident, efficient. Fie could have been taken for the dean of a T a l m u d i c college. If, in a western reference, Carvalho's claim to fame rests peculiarly on his experiences during the soul-trying winter in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and U t a h w h e n he served as the artist and daguerreotypist for Fremont's fifth expedition and on the royal vacation that followed in Salt Lake City and the idyllic return journey to Parowan and on to San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and finally home, Ms. Sturh a h n keeps this activity in proportion. In her survey of Incidents, she cares less to recapture the horrors and courage of the trek than to take note of the times and places when, and the conditions u n d e r which, Carvalho daguerreotyped and sketched. But she is attracted to the Emersonian-transcendentalist (and one should add, Psalmodic) hymns to the grandeurs and sublimities of the mountain landscape and to his fond thoughts for his family. Of the illustrations in black and white and in color which she has gathered for her book (hers is the only one so far to show any of Carvalho's work in color), the only paintings of western interest whose whereabouts we know are the portraits of Brigham Young and Chief W a k a r a — b o t h fortunately are shown in color—and John C. Fremont, the "Sketch of a Dead Child," "Entrance to Chochotope Pass" and "Rio G r a n d e River." T h e fate of the three h u n d r e d or so daguerreotypes Carvalho m a d e on the

91 trek with F r e m o n t was tragic. At a place about a h u n d r e d miles before Parowan, the colonel ordered the daguerreotyping apparatus, and plates, with all other bulk to be buried deep in the snow, for survival's sake. Ms. S t u r h a h n infers from a statement of the colonel's that he retrieved the plates; but eventually, it appears, they were destroyed in a fire at the Fremonts' home. So all that remains of that mostly hellish labor is the daguerreotype entitled " I n d i a n Village." However, keen on the scent, Ms. Sturh a h n has traced three engravings in Fremont's Memoirs to daguerreotypes by Carvalho. She is hopeful of uncovering more. With her competence, she very likely will. Ms. S t u r h a h n is an able analyst of pictorial composition, handling of elements, and palette. She demonstrates an accurate perception of the fundamental likenesses between different-appearing pictures. She is a reliable sleuth in search of Carvalho. T h e two paintings that have survived from the "travel and a d v e n t u r e " — t h e portraits of Brigham Y o u n g and Chief W a k a r a (but Carvalho painted numerous M o r m o n personalities and Indian chiefs) and the sketch of the dead child, of course, were done when the troubles were over. T h e "Sketch of a Dead Child," spontaneous, felicitous, inexpressibly, deeply felt, utterly simple, may be Carvalho's most universally appealing piece. H e was temperamentally good with children, as shown by the several portraits of living children in the book. His now famous portrait of Lincoln, for whom, although a patriotic Southerner, he had loving respect, is a notably artistic allegorical tribute. It came to light in 1952. In 1971 the portrait of Brigham Y'oung was discovered in the uncatalogued art collection of the L D S church. Discerning fundamental similarities to other portraits by Carvalho, Ms. Sturh a h n decided that this one also was his.

92 Although others doubted her attribution, the initials S.N.C. emerged in the lower right corner after cleaning. Strong, profound, spiritual, Carvalho's conception of this complex m a n should be compared with the impressive, different conception seen in the sculptured bust featured on the cover of this magazine for summer 1977. Carvalho's powerful portrait of Chief W a k a r a was featured here on the cover of the spring 1971 issue. It is the lone Carvalho owned by the T h o m a s Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art in Tulsa. O t h e r splendid portraits shown are those of Isaac Leeser, the greatest American Jew of his time, and the Baltimore chess player, George M u r r a y Gile. Ms. S t u r h a h n says that "the identification of u n k n o w n paintings in the collection of the L D S church is continuing and is also being carried on thoughout the state of U t a h . " She is confident of more finds. She relates Carvalho's landscape painting to a contemporaneous mood in this country and Europe. But she is sure that Carvalho, as a true American, although attentive to the E u r o p e a n movement, would not follow foreign models. She believes him independent, too, when, about to give u p art in the late 1860s, he was trembling on the verge of French Impressionism, with his scientific-esthetic attention to light as a component of the palette and preference for painting in the open air. She is looking at "Fisherman at the Edge of a Stream" (1867). Avant-garde, also, for Carvalho was the painting of his wife Sarah, in its brilliant color reminding one of V a n Gogh (ca. 1856). This was one of a wide range of pictures in both media which Carvalho did of his family—his cultured, old Sephardic family of the South—antebellum, mainly. By the way, the subjects of Carvalho's art were, with very few exceptions, persons and scenes that he directly knew. Sadly missing are three or four landscape pictures remembering

Utah Historical


the F a r West, painted in the early 1860s, including one of the G r a n d Canyon, painted four or five years before Bierstadt's. Carvalho's landscapes have a visual quality which speaks of the future of America in terms of the benign emptiness of the waiting land. Ms. Sturhahn's appreciation of landscape painting—imaginative and analytical—is genuinely painterly. She keeps her eye on the sensuous object. She does not admire uncritically. H e r analysis is easy for the reader to follow; she doesn't intellectualize. Of course, there is never anything in a Carvalho picture to offend anyone. Ms. Sturhahn's style is no particular style, but it is adequate. T h e proofreading and editing could have been more careful. All the necessary aids are present, except an index. T h e typography is easy on the eyes. T h e most important plates are full page. T h e book, as a whole, although the sequence is chronological and every chapter coheres around a single subject, is not cleanlimbed, seems loose-girt. T h e author evidently worked h a r d ; she provides a generous a b u n d a n c e of information. T h e effort was a labor of love. T h e writing even feels touched with affection, which, at times, warms into emotion, as if this woman were writing a memoir of a hero in the family. T h e author's avowed purpose is to bring Solomon Nunes Carvalho back as somebody worth knowing in the procession of American art, and known in relation to his entire background. H e presents a special western angle and a special Jewish angle, as we have seen. "As the only extended narrative of Western American adventure in the mid-nineteenth century written by a Jew," wrote Rabbi Bertram K o r n in his centenary edition of Incidents, "it is of first-rate importance for those w h o desire to understand the variegated role of the Jew in America." Variegated with the dimension of physical endur-

Book Reviews and Notices ance. Variegated, by the book u n d e r review, with the vista of Jews making American art as early as the early republic. T h e r e were Jewish pioneers other than the general storekeepers, who were pioneers, too. Ms. Sturhahn's affirmative j u d g m e n t on Carvalho's portraits a n d landscapes in her conclusion is proper. Certainly, his best portraits and landscapes constitute a surprise The


By R O B E R T G. A T H E A R N .

93 package of quality, which merits being studied in the company of Sully, Allston, Cole. This is a n indispensable book in this context. However, when more of Carvalho's works will have re-presented themselves, a H a r r y Abrams kind of monograph will be in order. LOUIS C. ZUCKER

Salt Lake City (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico

Press, 1976. Viii + 430 pp. $15.00.) As might have been anticipated, Colorado's centennial year of statehood inspired the publication of several books re-creating the state's history. Robert Athearn, the University of Colorado's noted western historian, contributed this book. While it is a history emphasizing the state's developers a n d development, it is by n o means exclusively a textbook detailing the events long accepted as comprising the history of the Centennial State. T h e book's thesis is not unusual. It relates the development of Colorado's high plains and Rocky M o u n t a i n society and economy from the days of the mining rush on into the 1970s as others have previously done. T h i s framework — t h e gold strikes, t h e rush to the Rockies, the spawning a n d growth of Denver, I n d i a n troubles, railroad building, politics, t h e evolution of social amenities, a n d so on—is depicted sufficiently to provide t h e backdrop for the integration of vignettes pertaining to aspects of t h e state's history that other authors a n d editors have necessarily limited in, or omitted from, their accounts. T h e book includes numerous a n d diverse moments in the lives a n d works of lesser known Coloradans w h o contributed to the state's romance a n d growth. Some readers might consider the events so profusely injected into the narrative to be modest or insignificant; collectively they a d d u p to history.

These historical glimpses, too numerous to count, vary widely. They include familiar scenes such as those pertaining to t h e Black community, t h e Jews in early Denver, the appearance of women w h o softened the harshness of pioneering, t h e early theatre, journalism, churches, a n d so it goes. T o sample a later period, t h e decade or so after World W a r I, one chapter summarizes the nativism of the American Legion, the K l a n , threats of gangsterism a n d bootleggers; glances at "suitcase" farming; then shifts over to relating t h e origins of the Big T h o m p s o n River project a n d the Colorado River compact and from there to petroleum a n d shale, road construction, tourism; a n d ends with the efforts to bring air service to Denver. T h e last chapter, concerning the 1970s, focuses o n housing-tract developers, "beatniks," environmental concerns over t h e Rocky Flats plant of the Atomic Energy Commission a n d Project Rulison, t h e Eisenhower T u n n e l through the Rockies, t h e land boom in Summit County west of t h e tunnel a n d Aspen, t h e state's L a n d Use Commission, the voters' rejection of the Winter Olympics, Larimer Square's renewal, shale development again, a n d the politics of the Democrats currently in office. Blending all of these elements of The Coloradans was doubtless an extraordinary literary challenge. Athearn's tech-

Utah Historical



nique was to insert extended comments from his own knowledge a n d writing experience between substantial segments. For the history he relied on familiar sources a n d accounts; most noteworthy, he m a d e frequent use of graduate theses mostly completed at the University of Colorado. I n sum, the book, handsomely produced by the publisher,

should be useful as a complement to a textbook for courses in Colorado history. I t will also entertain Colorado history buffs.

Photographs of the Southwest. By A N S E L ADAMS. (Boston: New York G r a p h i c Society, 1976. Xxxvii + 109 p p . $32.50.)

An account of United States Indian policy, 1865-1900, focusing on the Christian h u m a n i t a r i a n s a n d philanthropists as the driving force in the "reform" of I n d i a n affairs.

A compilation of Ansel Adams's photographs from 1928 to 1968 taken in Arizona, California, Colorado, N e w Mexico, Texas, a n d U t a h , this volume also contains a complementary essay by Lawrence Clark Powell. T h e photographs of scenic magnificence, which through t h e eye of another photographer might be considered trite, become transposed by Adams's camera into artworks beyond the natural beauty encompassed. T h e photographs of people a n d other forms are noteworthy for their composition. T h e pictures contain a broad range of scenes taken in U t a h , from those of Bryce Canyon to the Salt Flats. American Indian tian Reformers 1900.


Policy in Crisis: Chrisand the Indian, 1865-




( N o r m a n : University of O k l a h o m a Press, 1976. Xii + 456 p p . $15.00.)




University Fort Collins

The Bison in Art: A Graphic Chronicle of the American Bison. By LARRY BARSNESS. (Fort Worth, T e x . : Northland Press and Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1977. Viii + 142 p p . Paper, $14.50.) This fascinating a n d thorough narrative of the buffalo in American history makes good use of both words a n d pictures. A well-rounded account of the bison's place in American life, the book contains everything from elements of folklore to breeding practices. Bonanza Society

Victorian: Architecture and in Colorado Mining Towns.

By C. E R I C S T O E H R .


University of New Mexico 1975. Xiii + 173 p p . $11.95.)


A survey of nineteenth-century Colorado mining towns, through the m e d i u m

Book Reviews and Notices


of architecture, using recent photographs as illustration. T h e book sets the scene with sketches of Colorado's mining history, town organization, a n d influences on its architectural styles; it then proceeds with a discussion of residential, commercial, institutional, a n d industrial architecture.

the contents along with an outline of the material. T h e r e is also a subject a n d n a m e index to the manuscripts.

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Ordeal: Reservation and Agency Life in the Indian Territory, 1875-1907. By D O N ALD J. BERTHRONG. ( N o r m a n : U n i versity of O k l a h o m a Press, 1976. X v 4-402 p p . $12.50.)

T h e story of the White River Massacre of 1879 near Meeker, C o l o r a d o — an I n d i a n uprising fought between northern U t e Indians a n d federal soldiers—as told by a white m a n w h o grew u p on a U t e I n d i a n reservation. Volume 1 deals with the m e n a n d events leading to the massacre.

An account of reservation life a n d its effects on the Cheyenne a n d A r a p a h o Indians of western O k l a h o m a written by a history professor w h o is an authority on the Southern Cheyennes. Ghost Towns of Idaho. By D O N A L D C. M I L L E R . (Boulder, Colo.: Pruett Publishing Company, 1976. Ix + 102 p p . $15.95.) A brief historical survey of the abandoned mining towns of I d a h o arranged in alphabetical order by county a n d illustrated by numerous photographs from the I d a h o Historical Society along with those taken by t h e photographerauthor. A


to Manuscript


C o m p i l e d by E L L E N ARGUIMBAU


edited by J O H N A. B R E N N A N . (Boul-

der: University of Colorado Library, 1977. Xii 4-112 p p . Paper.) A guide to the western history m a n u scripts of the University of Colorado libraries as of July 1976 listed alphabetically a n d containing general d a t a about

This Is Our Land. Volume 1. By V A L J. M C C L E L L A N . ( N e w York: V a n t a g e Press, Inc., 1977. Xvi + 902 p p . $12.50.)

Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow: Railroads in the West. By D E E B R O W N . ( N e w Y o r k : Holt, R i n e h a r t a n d Winston, 1977. Vii 4- 311 p p . $12.95.) T h e story of American railroads in the nineteenth century, this book contains a discussion of the train's passage through U t a h : its accommodations a n d passenger comments. Guide to the James Moyle Oral History Program. (Salt Lake City: Historical D e p a r t m e n t , C h u r c h of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977. C o m p u t e r outprint microfiche, $5.00.) Since 1972 the L D S Historical D e p a r t m e n t has sponsored a n oral history p r o g r a m to help d o c u m e n t the twentieth-century history of the M o r m o n church a n d people. This guide consists of a register of processed interviews in shelf list order, an index of subjects, and a listing of the interviews.







F A W N M.




O L I V E W. C.






A U S T I N E. L E R O Y R. J E S S E D. A.










W A L L A C E E.
















J O H N W. A.







UTAH STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY Department of Development Services Division of State History BOARD O F STATE HISTORY M I L T O N C. A B R A M S , Smithfield, 1981

President D E L L O G. D A Y T O N , O g d e n , 1979

Vice President M E L V I N T . S M I T H , Salt Lake City Secretary M R S . E L I Z A B E T H G R I F F I T H , O g d e n , 1981

W A Y N E K . H I N T O N , C e d a r City, 1981 T H E R O N L U K E , Provo, 1979

DAVID S. M O N S O N , Secretary of State

Ex officio M R S . ELIZABETH M O N T A G U E , Salt Lake City, 1979 M R S . M A B E L J. O L I V E R , O r e m , 1980

M R S . H E L E N Z. PAPANIKOLAS, Salt Lake City, 1981 H O W A R D C. P R I C E , J R . , Price, 1979

T E D J. W A R N E R , Provo, 1981



STANFORD J. L A V T O N , Publications Coordinator JAY M . H A Y M O N D , Librarian DAVID B. M A D S E N , Antiquities Director

T h e U t a h State Historical Society was organized in 1897 by public-spirited U t a h n s to collect, preserve, and publish U t a h and related history. Today, under state sponsorship, the Society fulfills its obligations by publishing the Utah Historical Quarterly and other historical materials; locating, documenting, and preserving historic a n d prehistoric buildings and sites; a n d maintaining a specialized research library. Donations and gifts to the Society's programs or its library are encouraged, for only through such means can it live up to its responsibility of preserving the record of Utah's past.

MEMBERSHIP Membership in the U t a h State Historical Society is open to all individuals and institutions interested in U t a h history. Membership applications and change of address notices should be sent to the membership secretary. Annual dues a r e : Individual, $7.50; institution, $10.00; student, $5.00 (with teacher's statement) ; contributing, $15.00; sustaining, $25.00; patron, $50.00; life member, $150.00. Your interest and support are most welcome.

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