The latest Journal of Mormon History

By January 14, 2014

The latest Journal of Mormon History has been reaching subscribers’ mailboxes this week, which means it’s time for the JI’s semi-regular brief reviews of the issue.

Ronald W. Walker, joined by Matthew J. Grow, completes his two part analysis of the 1851-1852 “Runaways” incident in “The People Are ‘Hogaffed or Humbugged’: The 1851-52 National Reaction to Utah’s ‘Runaway’ Officers, Part 2,’ 1-52. The first installment, which appeared in the last issue of JMH, chronicled the origins of the crisis with the first non-Mormon federal appointees in Utah Territory. This second part continues the story as the scene shifts to the nation’s capital, and follows the public affairs and behind-the-scenes activities of Jedediah Grant, John M. Berhisel, and Thomas L. Kane. Walker and Grow not only tell a gripping tale, but also demonstrate the importance of this event in the long and tortured history of Mormon-federal relations from the late 1840s through the 1890s. Unlike the similar struggle with federal appointees in the lead-up to the Utah War, the 1852 even actually turned out in the Mormons’ favor. The article provides a teaser for Walker and Grow’s forthcoming documentary volume on Brigham Young and Thomas L. Kane’s correspondence.

Mike Paulos contributes another installment in his investigation of the career of Mormon Senator Reed Smooth: “‘Smoot Smites Smut’: Apostle-Senator Reed Smoot’s 1930 Campaign against Obscene Books,” 53-96. Paulos places this campaign not only within the context of Mormon opposition to novels dating to the 1850s, but also within the long-arch of Smoot’s political career, including the passage of the ill-fated Smoot-Hawley Tariff.

Casey Paul Griffiths, Scott C. Esplin, Barbara Morgan, and E. Vance Randall analyze the little-known history of church schools in Chile in “Colegias Chilenes de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias”: The History of Latter-day Saint Schools in Chile,” 97-134. The authors discuss the founding of these schools in the context of the church’s broader efforts to establish schools in Latin America and the Pacific, the tumultuous political atmosphere in cold war Chile, and the schools’ relationships with the Catholic majority.

Boyd Jay Petersen’s “‘Redeemed from the Curse Placed upon Her’: Dialogic Discourse on Eve in the Woman’s Exponent,” 135-74, discusses interpretations of Eve in the Woman’s Exponent. Petersen expertly discusses the contributors’ constructions of Eve in relation to male discourses on Eve and the women’s use of Eve in the context of women’s suffrage.

T. Ward Frampton’s “‘Some Savage Tribe’: Race, Legal Violence, and the Mormon War of 1838,” 175-207, places race and racial constructions at the center of the conflict between Mormons and Missourians in the 1830s. Frampton argues that the Missourians’ racialized the Mormons (although the Saints also saw themselves as racially distinct) throughout the decade and that much of the opposition against the Mormons was rooted in alleged Mormon “tampering” with slaves and “alliances” with Native peoples on the frontier. He also discusses Missourians’ use of black and red face paint when attacking Mormon settlements. Frampton’s article covers some of the same ground that Paul Reeve will traverse in his forthcoming work on Mormonism and race.

Lastly, occasional JI guest Bradley Kime’s “Exhibiting Theology: James E. Talmage and Mormon Public Relations, 1915-20,” 208-38, provides a fascinating analysis of Talmage’s efforts to improve Mormonism’s public image in the late Progressive Era. Kime argues that Talmage fore-fronted Mormon theology in public lectures and published essays (some of which were later repackaged in the Vitality of Mormonism), which contrasts markedly from contemporary efforts in the “I’m a Mormon” campaign to downplay theology in favor of showing the diversity of Mormon identity.

JIer Andrea Radke-Moss also reviews Reid Neilson’s Exhibiting Mormonism, using her own research on Mormon women in world fairs to show the strengths and weaknesses of Neilson’s book.

Overall, it’s a strong issue. If you’re not a subscriber, do so today!

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