Image: “The Riots in New York: The Mob Lynching a Negro in Clarkson-Street” 
One of the things that first interested me about Joseph F. Smith was his personality as a diarist. He liked to pen elaborate descriptions of impressive places he visited, such as the ancient Mo’okini heiau (temple) in Hawaii, the famous Mauna Loa volcano, or the Wentworth Castle and Estates near Barnsley, England. He cataloged what he saw as faults in others, ranging from family members, to LDS church enemies, to people he encountered as a missionary. He recorded seemingly insignificant details and used trite or repetitive phrases (some of which have crept into my own journaling vocabulary), in the process illuminating much about his education, priorities, biases, and spirituality. And we can’t leave out the infamous cat massacre that Amanda HK described in a post some time ago.
He also wrote about how the major events of his time affected him personally, including culturally and politically momentous occasions (yes, I’m somewhat stretching for a connection to this month’s theme). This will be the subject of a quick trio of posts over the next few days commemorating the 150th anniversary of the New York Draft Riots. In this post I will focus on the early context for Joseph F.’s experiences during the riots; in the remaining two I will examine his day-by-day account of the riots, striving to uncover in his retelling relevant insights into his personality and mindset.
Two weeks following the pivotal battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) and the successful conclusion of the siege of Vicksburg (July 4, 1863), a riot broke out in New York City that lasted for four long days (July 13-16, 1863). The riots were caused by a perfect storm of intersecting factors: pressing manpower needs in the Union military; an unpopular conscription law that many New Yorkers–especially those of Irish descent–saw as unfairly drawing on the poorer classes; simmering tension over the effects of emancipation; and the war’s continuation due to bungling Union leadership and despite victories like Gettysburg. These all converged and exploded in the sweltering heat of New York as the draft began to be enforced.
Joseph F. Smith, taking a few days’ respite in Manhattan following the conclusion of his first mission to the British Isles (1860-1863), was there to witness this largest riot in American History. Like most Mormons, he had observed the war from afar (though from the “other side of the pond”). He followed the major events with what could be best described as detached interest, mentioning in his diary only a few war-related developments between 1860 and 1863. He likely shared with his relatives and many other church members a fatalistic attitude about the war, regarding it as a continuation of the fulfillment of Joseph Smith Jr.’s 1832 prophecy that war would soon be “poured out upon all nations,” (D&C 87:2-3).
His level of interest also mirrored that of the British among whom he lived and labored for the greater part of the war–focusing on developments that impacted the English. He noted British events that were a direct result of the American Civil War, in one particular case a town containing 23 textile mills that had been forced to close by the halt of Southern cotton being imported into Britain.
Beside a passing interest in American developments, it seems that Joseph F.primarily spent his mission focusing on his missionary labors among the British Saints. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, to be sure, taking advantage of educational and recreational opportunities that had been unavailable during his previous mission to the Hawaiian Islands and were unparalleled in their grandeur in the Salt Lake Valley. Half-British himself, he was occasionally swept up in the culture of Old England and, I think, returned to the United States feeling more British than American. This comes through in his formal, observational descriptions of the Draft Riots, which I will discuss more in the next two posts.
Image: Parade honoring George McClellan’s appointment as General over the Army of the Potomac, 14 December 1861 Illustrated London News. (JFS mentioned McClellan’s appointment in his diary on 23 November 1861.)
 Found in the Illustrated London News, vol.43, no.1216, p. 129, August 8, 1863, available online at http://beck.library.emory.edu/iln/figure.php?id=v43p129.jpg, accessed 30 June 2013. The News was a weekly paper which Joseph F. often read (and sent copies home to Utah); it was in publication until 2003.
 See JFS Diary, April 19, 1856; Aug. 22, 1856; and Jan. 26, 1862, Joseph F. Smith Papers, MS 1325, Church History Library. The 1862 entry on the Wentworth Castle is most interesting, as JFS spends 12 ½ pages in his diary copying portions of John Gray Bell’s Stamborough and Rockley, Their Historical Associations, and Rural Attractions, 2nd ed. (London: the Author, 1853). Having visited the place himself, Joseph F. apparently found Bell’s description more eloquent than any he could voice, and spent numerous hours copying the Englishman’s prose. He transcribes portions of or the entire text from pages 1-9, 36-40, 43-50, 52-54, 56-58, and 61-62, then adds what appears to be his own reaction to the Stainborough area on several additional pages.
 See JFS Diary, April 23-25, 1862 (criticism of his Fielding relatives); June 27, 1857 (description of bible-bashing session with a member of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions); and May 4-5, 1857 (wayward Saints living on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai), JFS Papers, Church History Library.
 Insignificant details: include English and other language vocabulary words, verb conjugations, names of books he was reading, names of people he visited or taught, and much more. Phrases like “spent the day reading,” “found all well,” and “enjoyed myself first rate,” are scattered throughout his diary between 1856 and 1863.
 It cannot be argued that the Mormons were untouched by the war, of course. In August I will be reviewing for the JI Kenneth L. Alford’s Civil War Saints (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2012), which explores many avenues of Mormon connection to the larger Civil War.
 See, for example, JFS Diary, 26-27 April 1861 (attack on Ft. Sumter); 2 May 1861 (Lincoln’s call for volunteers); and 16 Sept. 1861 (nondescript battle mentioned), JFS Papers, Church History Library.
 See Scott C. Esplin, “’Have We Not Had a Prophet Among Us?’: Joseph Smith’s Civil War Prophecy,” in Kenneth L. Alford, ed., Civil War Saints, Ch. 3. Specific treatment of the use of the prophecy during the Civil War is found on pp. 46-52.
 JFS Diary, 25 April 1862, JFS Papers, Church History Library.
 Additional images from the Illustrated London News related to the American Civil War are available online at http://beck.library.emory.edu/iln/illustrations.php. A completely searchable collection of the paper, print, images, and all, is available at http://gdc.gale.com/products/illustrated-london-news-historical-archive-online-1842-2003/ (subscription to Gale Digital Collections required to view). On the appointment of McClellan, see JFS Diary, 23 Nov. 1861, JFS Papers, Church History Library.