After more than six years of research, three Mormon historians have now published their long-awaited book on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It's just the latest telling of the story and among the critical questions is the role high-ranking Mormon leaders played in the slaughter at the time and the level of responsibility and candor they've taken since. Join us for part two of Massacre at Mountain Meadows.
Photography courtesy of Eric Young
Ronald W. Walker
Ronald W. Walker is a professional historian living in Salt Lake City, Utah. Formerly he served as a Professor of History at Brigham Young University. Walker is the author or editor of eight books and more than five dozen historical articles, dealing mainly with Western, Utah, and Mormon history. The Mormon History Association has recognized his work with a half dozen citations and awards, including its Best Book Award. He has served as President of the Mormon History Association. A native of Missouri, Montana, Walker was raised in American Midwest and the San Joaquin Valley in California. He has made his home in Salt Lake City for the past thirty-five years. He and his wife, Nelani Midgley Walker, are the parents of seven children and fifteen grandchildren.
Richard E. Turley Jr.
Richard E. Turley Jr. was appointed Assistant Church Historian and Recorder for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 12, 2008. Prior to this appointment, he served for eight years as managing director of the Church's Family and Church History Department, four years as managing director of the Family History Department, and fourteen years as managing director of the Church Historical Department. In these roles, he oversaw the Church Archives and Records Center, the Church History Library, the Museum of Church History and Art, and the Church's worldwide family history operations, which include numerous documentary microfilming and digital-imaging projects, the Family History Library, the Granite Mountain Records Vault, and FamilySearch.org. His book Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992) is an oft-cited history of the famous Hofmann forgery-murder case of the 1980s. He serves as a member of the executive committee of the Church Historian's Press, chairman of the editorial board for the Joseph Smith Papers project, and general editor of the Journals of George Q. Cannon Series.
Glen M. Leonard
Glen M. Leonard earned a Ph.D. in history and American studies at the University of Utah in 1970. He has worked as a journalist, a publications editor, and a research historian. He retired last year after twenty-six years as director of the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City. Leonard is author or coauthor of four books and numerous articles on Utah, the Mormons, and the American West. His comprehensive study Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise (2002) received the best book award from the John Whitmer Historical Association and a special merit citation from the Mormon Historical Association. Glen and his wife, Karen, live in Farmington, Utah. They have three sons and eight grandchildren.
I was dissappointed with the book and felt it was very biased towards John D. Lee. The first 100 pages seemed to be very good research but the last part made Lee out to be the villian in a mystery novel. The authors used adjectives and phrases to describe his character, mood and intentions that they couldn't possibly have known, and I know personally several of his descendants wouldn't agree. I think the book is hurtful to the Lee family and maybe others. I don't agree that all of this will hurt for awhile and then go away. I don't understand why people can't see how cruel the persecution to the Lee Family has been over the years. And why didn't they make the link from John Higbee's comment to the persecutors from Independence, Missiouri? Higbee's father was arrested with the Prophet as were others before he was thrown into Liberty Jail. It seems obvious that Higbee knew at least some of these people and others in southern Utah would have known them also. So when the Missourians came through threating to kill President Young and wipe Mormons off the earth, some of the settlers in southern Utah had first hand experience with these people.
Did we all forget that Lee was reinstated by the First Presidency in 1969? In my book, that tells me I need to forgive and forget and trust in the Propets judgement!
Posted by L. Karen Platt, Friday August 22nd, 2008 @ 3:16 pm
There are many it seems who'd feel better with a separation between God, religion, church, and the actions taken against humanity in their name. The root of extremism is in conviction, conviction of the one and only truth, conviction of a conduit to God, conviction of one's own narcissism. History is rife with evidence, from the crusades, the holocaust, Cambodia, Srebrenica, New York City, to the inevitable suicide bombing that happened this morning, regardless of what morning you read this.
And we don't like that. We don't want to paint our ancestors with the same brush as militant Islamists, Nazis, or Croats. They're the extremists, not my great, great uncle who was a Mormon pioneer and a member of the Iron County Militia. Fear is the impetus of extremism and when it's fueled with self-righteous arrogance and aspirated with vengeance, regardless of the culture, someone is going to die.
In the initial meetings of Stake and General Conferences an officiating Priesthood holder calls the roll of the hierarchy of the Church from the First Presidency right down to the local structure of the Aaronic priesthood. As each tier is announced, members are asked to sustain them by raising their right hands. Each office is sustained as inherent to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It's been documented that the orders for the massacre came from a Stake President who was also a commanding officer in the Iron County Militia. He used the line of authority to deliver the orders to another authority, a Bishop. As Verdoia pointed out in tonight's program, there's much debate as to whether the order had an even higher genesis, Brigham Young. Regardless, the order came from officers in the church, officers in its military organization. I cannot separate the actions of the murderers at Mountain Meadows from their association and submission to the church to which they belonged.
While I appreciate their work, there's more than a hint in the authors' responses tonight that they remain intent on distancing Brigham, and therefore the Church, from responsibility for the murders.
Posted by Eric Young , Friday August 22nd, 2008 @ 9:55 pm
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Previous show, 08.15.08
« Massacre at Mountain Meadows: Part 1
Next show, 08.29.08
Governor's Monthly News Conference »