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Ok, it probably won’t be a debate. But today at 11 am (MST) Ron Barney, of the Church Archives, and Will Bagley of Blood of the Prophets fame will be discussing the John V. Long Papers on KUER’s Radio West, with Doug Fabrizio. Rare documents dealer Ken Sanders will also weigh in on the discussion. Here’s the description:
SALT LAKE CITY, UT (2007-11-12) Tuesday on RadioWest – a real life murder mystery from the old West. John V Long was a confidant and scribe of Mormon leader Brigham Young, but he fell from grace, was excommunicated from the LDS Church, and finally found dead in a drainage ditch in 1869. Doug is joined by historian Will Bagley, rare book dealer Ken Sanders and church historian Ron Barney to explore what Long’s newly discovered papers tell us about life in the early days of the Utah territory.
I know Ron Barney personally and he’s a fine historian. He’s working on the Joseph Smith Papers. I don’t know Will Bagley personally, although I did see him at a SL Chinese restaurant a few weeks ago. Anyway, we’ll try to get a writeup of the discussion posted on the site a little later on. And we promise, Will, that we’ll be nice. Bagley-bashing won’t be a sport here, even if we don’t agree with everything in your book.
Update: Here’s a writeup. Others that listened, please correct me or add pertinent information.
Provenance: The Long family approached Ken Sanders about a year ago about selling the collection. Sanders mentioned that he is intent on keeping the collection intact, but he also mentioned that he could make a lot more money by selling pieces of the collection separately.
Contents: Pitman shorthand specialist LaJean Carruth and Church Archives documents expert Christy Best evaluated the collection’s contents yesterday and found that there are journals, letters, and sermon transcriptions. There are also hundreds of pages of Long family genealogical materials. The collection does not have Long’s 1857-1858 diary, which would have covered the Utah War and Mountain Meadows period. Long mentions that there were 115 pitman diaries from the period, but only 11 remain, suggesting that many were destroyed for unknown reasons. There are in the collection transcriptions of a few Brigham Young sermons, including one where Young spoke about his boyhood. There are records describing Long’s High Council court, where he is charged with associating with the Young Men’s Social Club and other conduct unbecoming of a Latter-day Saint. He is also charged with associating with Gentiles that would seek to shed Mormon blood. There is also a document describing Long’s activities with sprititualism. There are two Eliza R. Snow poems that Sanders describes as being previously unknown and unpublished.
Long bio: Long was one of Brigham Young’s scribes and was very prominent in Utah territory. His wife Sarah was an important figure in the Utah arts scene, and painted “Brigham Young and His Friends,” which portrays her husband as being close to Young. After Long’s 1866 excommunication, she and her husband fell out of favor in social circles.
Intrigue surrounding death: Long’s daughter later said that her father was seen with one of Brigham’s B’Hoys, Bill Hickman, the night before his [Long’s] death. The accusation is that Hickman drowned Long for knowing too much. There was quite a bit of discussion concerning the different theories surrounding the death-was it a murder or was it an accidental death? Bagley hopes to publish an article with the Utah Historical Quarterly soon describing the different theories. One theory is that Long became too involved with Gentile mining interests, which challenged Young’s authority. Another theory is Long told Young that Orson Pratt was a better speaker than Young. Another theory is that Long wrote Young’s alibi letter in the aftermath of Mountain Meadows.
Barney’s Response: Barney contested the idea that Long was a close confidant of Young’s. Long was one of fifteen scribes, and was not even the most trusted scribe, which was probably George D. Watt. Watt and other scribes also fell out of favor with Young, but they were not murdered. There is evidence to suggest that Long was actually coming back into favor in the months preceding his death: 1) he was reappointed as a regent in the University of Deseret 2) prominent Mormons such as Samuel W. Richards and Edwin Wooley spoke at Long’s death. Barney also mentioned that Hickman did not mention Long in his [Hickman’s] memoirs, which were written in 1871, just two years after Long’s death. Barney characterized Bagley’s claims as “creative advertisement,” “tabloid history,” and said that “Bagley lives a much more exciting life than I do.” Bagley responded that he never claimed that the Long collection contained accusations of murder, but that other sources do. Also that his [Bagley’s] article does not contain any speculation, to which Barney said that despite asking for a copy, Bagley has not yet sent one to him.
Notes on Eliza R. Snow poems: I’ve been informed by a reliable source that the two new poems are not “unknown,” but are simply new manuscript iterations of poems that are known from other sources. They have not, however, been published previously.
The latest John Whitmer Historical Association newsletter arrived in the mail this week, and it contained some exciting information about the future of JWHA. In addition to including David King Landrith’s summary of the Kirtland Conference in September (originally posted at Mormon Mentality), the newsletter discussed some of the new directions John Hamer is steering JWHA, including the advent of John Whitmer Books. I picked up a copy of Scattering of the Saints: Schism within Mormonism (ed. by Newell G. Bringhurst and John Hamer) at the conference in September, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It includes essays on various Latter Day Saint schisms by a variety of noteworthy authors, including Robin Jensen, Vickie Speek, Michael Marquardt, Craig L. Foster, David Howlett, and Roger Launius. All of the books printed thus far are available only in paperback, though I have heard rumors that there are plans to begin publishing hardcover books.
The newsletter also contained information regarding the potential name change of JWHA. The previous newsletter mentioned that the proposal includes changing the name of the organization from John Whitmer Historical Association to Society for Latter Day Saint Studies, and the name of the journal from JWHA Journal to Latter Day Saint Studies. A Naming Committee is in the process of being formed to begin surveying and researching the positives and negatives associated with the proposed name change.
For those interested in theology and religious studies, JWHA will initiate an annual Spring Theology, Cultural, and Religious Studies Symposium that will be called the “Restoration Studies Symposium.” The first symposium is scheduled for April 11-12, 2008 at Graceland University in Independence, Missouri. It is being co-hosted by the Sunstone Educational Foundation. On a related note, a journal focusing on Latter Day Saint Theology and Religious Studies is in the works, tentatively called Restoration Studies: A Journal of Theology, Religion and Culture. It aims to be the “Prarie Saint” equivalent of Dialogue and Sunstone.
Lastly (and perhaps most significantly for those interested in Mormon history), the digitization of the JWHA Journal is underway (a la The Journal of Mormon History and Dialogue) , with the goal of completing the project by next year’s conference. It looks as though the complete contents of Courage: A Journal of History, Thought and Action and Restoration Studies will be included on the same DVD. This will be a welcome addition, I am sure, to many personal libraries, as past issues of the JWHA Journal are difficult to get your hands on (BYU’s HBLL Library doesn’t even include the journal in its periodicals section, and the only copies are available in Special Collections). Once the project is complete, it will allow JWHA to reprint entire sets of the journal (for those who prefer the actual journals for their collection, and also to offer to additional libraries around the country).
Carmon Hardy, in his article “Self-Blame and the Manifesto”, draws a parallel between elements of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy and Mormon explanations for the Manifesto. After tenaciously clinging to “The Principle”, and after repeated affirmations of the justness of the polygamous cause, the Mormon people had to account for the cessation of plural marriage. Increasingly, Latter-day Saints looked inward and cited a failure on the part of the Latter-day Saints as the reason the promised protection did not come. An excerpt from the Anthon Lund diaries illustrates this view:
[October 27, 1901] “…Prest. Jos F. Smith followed and spoke…Said none could have done what Prest. Woodruff did in regard to the Manifesto. Said: ‘The Lord withheld this principle from the people because 96 pr cent did not obey it and ninety pr cent of those who did obey it had abused it'” (John Hatch, ed. Danish Apostle: The Diaries of Anthon H. Lund, 1890-1921, 159).
Likewise, Hardy cites self blame on the part of Southerners as an explanation for the loss of the Civil War. What are the weaknesses or possibilities of this analysis?
There has been considerable question concerning how we should interpret the omission of the phrase “as does the Bible” from the Introduction to the Book of Mormon. The phrase first appeared thus in the 1981 edition: “It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americans and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” However, in the 1992 Spanish-language edition, the phrase “as does the Bible” was removed. The change was reflected in subsequent foreign-language (re)printings, and first appeared in English in the 2004 Doubleday edition.
Carrie Moore in her Deseret News article mentioned the “as does the Bible” change, but stated that the church had declined to comment. In a response to an email from the Juvenile Instructor, Church spokesman Mark Tuttle stated the following:
Support and reference materials for the scriptures are only changed for major new editions (the last English edition was in 1981), and not with individual (re) printings. How this is done and its timing (considering all of the individual language translations), is a complex problem that we hope to address in detail in the near future. Until that time we are not able to provide additional comments.
This response gives me hope that the Church’s media representatives will soon address the issue of how the “as does the Bible” change occurred. Although Tuttle confirmed that a statement is forthcoming, he was unable to state that it would address this specific issue.
Filed under: 19th-century Mormonism, Archives, Brigham Young, Memory, Stan, Western History
As certain babblers in Zion shared everything but their testimonies from the pulpit in Church today (we had stake conference last week so this today was fast and testimony meeting), I began flipping through the hymn book, reading some of those obscure old hymns we never sing. I lighted on Orson F. Whitney’s poetic little reverie “The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close” and got a good dose of manifest destiny in the 4th verse:
The wilderness, that naught before would yield,
Is now become a fertile, fruitful field.
Where roamed at will the fearless Indian band,
The templed cities of the Saints now stand.
I leaned over to my wife, and showed it to her. She gasped, “That’s awful.” It reminded me of my reaction to a little vignette I once read in none other than our own namesake, the Juvenile Instructor, titled “The Indian Boy’s Twenty-Fourth” (1898):
“It was a morning in July. At the base of a range of mountains that formed the eastern boundary of a great valley stood an Indian boy. Westward he turned his gaze. The grey sage that lay both south and north here also met his view. Down through its midst a silver band showed the course of a winding river, that, pouring itself into the bitter waters of the great inland sea, sought vainly to make them sweet. In the hazy light of the summer day the gray valley grew more gray in the distance until it touched the dark waters of the bitter sea and the mountains of blue that shut it in.
“The boy turned from all this and looked attentively at the dark spot down in the valley where strange men unlike himself had come and made their camp. Two days before they had come and immediately with appliances strange as themselves had begun turning over the virgin soil, and by some unknown means directing the waters of a near-by stream to cover it.
“As still he gazed, slowly another stranger band emerged from the mountains. It came near his side and halted. In one of the wheeled vehicles lay a man, pale and weak, who as the carriage stopped raised up and looked upon the land and uttered strange words as he beheld it. The boy knew not the man, knew not his words, but in his eyes he saw a strange light and on his face an expression that made him look like some fair god.
“A tremor shook the frame of the Indian child, a thrill went to his very heart. He seemed to feel the import of those words. The land where he was born, where as the old man said his sires had hunted, since the great lake left the mountain side was now by strangers taken and lost to him for evermore.”  (Juvenile Instructor 33, no. 14, July 15, 1898, 520.)
This is an incredible passage, soaked in a characteristically Mormon and yet very American sense of manifest destiny. Several myths are embedded in the narrative: the timelessness of a static pre-European America (“where the old man said his sires had hunted, since the great lake [Bonneville] left the mountain side”); the assumed superiority of agrarian lifestyle; and of course, the sense of divinely sanctioned entitlement to the “virgin land.”
Historian Elliot West refers to such stories—variously labeled as “‘living myths’ or ‘stories lived forward,’” but which he calls “visions”—as ways different peoples explain, quite literally, “who in the world they are.”
“These overarching stories describe how a people fit into the world and what their purposes have become. They argue that certain beliefs and values are natural, self-evident expressions of a people being exactly where they are and nowhere else. Such stories become guides and encouragements for living out a newly dreamed existence. Almost invariably they justify possession. When people look back, the stories become proof to them that they have been summoned by fate or history or God into their rightful homes.”
So if such tales have been so useful to Latter-day Saints and Americans for so many years—they were in full swing in 1898 and still in currency whenever Whitney wrote his hymn (pre-1931)—what has become of them now? Do Mormons (and Americans) still have a sense of manifest destiny, even if it has been toned down a little? (Whitney’s hymn is still in the book, long after W. W. Phelps’s “O, Stop and Tell Me Red Man” was been removed). Have we simply removed those that cringe upon our PC sensitivities? Or has the entire vision been altered and recast by the experiences and historical revisionism of the past century?
 My wife commented that this line is not too charitable; so I reminded her that after a certain individual’s preamble today she leaned over to me and whispered, “This is going to be long.” (She was right.) But to cede her point, I really don’t mean do denigrate any person’s experiences or testimony, so please consider this only playful banter by an insider (and thus one entitled to such quipping by the eso/exo factor).
 To those unfamiliar with Mormon history, July 24 is when the Latter-day Saint pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. A few vanguard Saints arrived a few days before to plow up a small plot, plant crops, and may have begun irrigating. According to legend (and Wilford Woodruff’s journal), when Brigham Young entered the valley, sick and laying in a wagon, he raised up on one elbow and said, “This is the [right] place, move on.”
 Elliott West refers to this idea of European exploration and colonization as “the start of history itself” as a perceived “breaking of a slumbering spell” (The Contested Plains [University of Kansas, 1998], 33).
 Elliott West, The Contested Plains, xxiii.
A friend of mine mentioned to me last week that he hoped that the John V. Long documents would be sold for a million dollars…and then prove to contain nothing of worth, just to prove the conspiracy theorists wrong. The discovery of two original and unpublished Eliza R. Snow poems in the collection may not shed light on Long’s mysterious death, but they do begin to confirm the tangible historical value of the collection. ABC4.com reports that the two poems were found in the scrapbook of Sarah Long, wife of John V. Long.
Like many of Snow’s poems, these treat spiritual topics. It will be interesting to see how these new poems compare with the rest of Snow’s nearly 500 poems, which are being edited for publication by Jill Mulvay Derr and Karen Lynn Davidson. I have been informed by a reliable source that Derr will be stepping down from her position in the Family and Church History Department, in part to continue work on the Snow papers. She will be replaced by Max Evans, formerly of the National Archives. Davidson continues her work as an editor for the Joseph Smith Papers, History Series.