8 Lectures in 7 Days, Bill MacKinnon on The Utah War and Volume 10 of the Kingdom of the West Series

By April 16, 2008

If you live practically anywhere on the Wasatch Front, you are within range of one of Bill MacKinnon’s speaking engagements in his whirlwind book tour, promoting his latest publication, At Sword’s Point, Part 1: A Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858, volume one of a two volume history of the Utah War and the tenth volume in the Kingdom in the West Series.

Thanks to Robert A. Clark, of The Arthur H. Clark Company and Bill MacKinnon for providing this information (“I” references are to Bill).

-April 16: Utah Valley Historical Society meeting, Provo (because
meeting is at public library, commercial booksellers are not permitted;
order forms will be available and there will be an announcement at meeting
of book availability at BYU campus bookstore and a Provo commercial
store, both of which I will contact to ensure proper ordering).

-April 17: OCTA Crossroads Chapter meeting, Salt Lake City (Ken
Sanders will sell at meeting
). 7 p.m.

-April 17: LDS Church senior archivists, luncheon meeting and talk,
Salt Lake City (I will refer to book and will have order forms

-April 18: LDS Church archival missionaries and staff members, lecture
series, Salt Lake City (I will refer to book and will have order
forms available).

-April 18: Utah State Historical Society, reception in my honor (with
members of State History Board, Society’s Director, and senior staff),
Salt Lake City (I will refer to book).

-April 19: Talk/signing at Ken Sanders Rare Books, Salt Lake City (Ken
Sanders will order/handle). 7 p.m.

-April 21: Utah War Sesquicenntial Series Lecture, Weber State U.,
Ogden (campus bookstore will sell at meeting per below). 7-9 p.m.

-April 22: Talk/signing at Benchmark Books, Salt Lake City (Curt Bench
will order/handle). 5-7 p.m.

According to KIW series editor Will Bagley, MacKinnon “absolutely smoked” last night’s Utah Westerners meeting, so these are not to be missed. As our own Juvenile Instructor bloggers attend these lectures, we will be sure to return and report.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Jared. When I saw that he was speaking tonight in Provo, I stopped by the BYU Bookstore to see if they have any of the books in stock yet. No luck.

    Comment by Ben — April 16, 2008 @ 6:09 pm

  2. Is his book officially out yet?

    Amazon is only showing it for pre-order.

    Comment by Clark — April 16, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  3. It has “hit the streets”. Benchmark Books just got their shipment in the last day or so.

    Comment by Jared T — April 16, 2008 @ 6:57 pm

  4. Yes, as Jared reported above, “At Sword’s Point, Part 1” is now available at Benchmark Books and at Richard Sanders Rare Books, both in Salt Lake City. It should also be available soon at Sam Weller’s Zion’s Bookstore on Main Street in Salt Lake. In Provo — where tonight I encountered Jared and two wide-awake bloggers from “Juvenile Instructor — it will soon be available at Pioneer Books and at the BYU Campus Bookstore. By Monday the book will also be available at the Weber State U. Bookstore in Ogden. Another place from which you can order it is through Hugh McKell’s Bear Hollow Book Store in South Jordan, UT. Hugh is offering a very nice 20% discount and copies that i will be signing for him in the next day or two. Anyone who has questions or comments about the book is free to contact me at MacKBP at msn.com

    Comment by Bill MacKinnon — April 16, 2008 @ 11:38 pm

  5. Thank you for stopping in, Bill. It was a pleasure to meet you. David, Ben, and I greatly enjoyed your lecture and I will be putting up summary from the notes I took tonight. I hope to see your lecture at Benchmark next week.

    Comment by Jared T — April 16, 2008 @ 11:53 pm

  6. Thanks for helping to spread the word, Jared. Information on Bill MacKinnon’s book and other volumes in the Kingdom in the West Series is available at the Arthur H. Clark Company website: http://www.ahclark.com

    Comment by Bob Clark — April 17, 2008 @ 7:50 am

  7. While driving through southern Texas back in 1995 or so I heard a national radio news report that through the freedom of information act it was found that the army orders for the Utah war commanders were to exterminate the Mormons. I have never heard of a confirmation or follow-up on what I heard. Saludos from Harlingen.

    Comment by Paul Clark — June 1, 2008 @ 8:42 am

  8. Paul, that was I believe the California general. It’s discussed in Bigler in passing. I’ve not yet read MacKinnon’s book although I’ve had it on order from Amazon for a few months now.

    Comment by Clark — June 1, 2008 @ 11:08 am

  9. A few comments re Paul Clark’s post (#7). None of the U.S. Army orders or correspondence relating to the Utah War of 1857-58 were ever “classified” in the mid-20th-century sense, and so those Utah War documments at places like the National Archives are completely available to the public without need for a Freedom of Information Act request. The army never issued a Utah War order to “exterminate” Mormons and was careful to instruct commanders in writing not to come into collision with Utah’s population unless in self-defense. Having said that,there have been rumors for 150 years that Brevet Brig. Gen. William S. Harney, the U.S. Army Utah Expedition’s initial commander, engaged in loose talk and bragging at Fort Leavenworth to the effect that he was going to summarily hang Brigham Young and other LDS leaders. I have never been able to document that Harney said this, although in the 1870s his biographer (L.U. Reavis) stated (without any kind of citation) that this was the case. Because of the lack of documentation by Reavis, it is not clear whether he was trying to say that Harney said such a thing during the summer of 1857 (when he first became commander of the Utah Expedition) or the following year, when he again took on this responsibility. Irrespective of Harney’s alleged behavior, it is clear that some lower level military officers and civilian campfollowers spoke this way. Knowing a bit about Harney’s temperament (explosive and rough), I’d say that he most likely did indulge in such talk but that he did so as a matter of personal style on his own hook rather than at official army encouragement. Irrespective of what we can prove about what Harney did or didn’t say and for what reason, word of such talk rapidly spread west, and Mormon leaders themselves believed that they were being targeted for summary execution by the army. Brigham Young sort of joked about it (whistling past the graveyard) in a August 4, 1857 letter to Indian farmer Jacob Hamblin. In this letter B.Y. stated that about 30 leaders were being so targeted, but added in typical B.Y. style that the catchin’ needed to come before the hangin’. In a January 8, 1858 discourse in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle, Apostle Ezra Taft Benson reported that he had heard similar threats from the troops that he encountered aboard ship while returning to Utah from Liverpool via New York, the Caribbean, Panama, and southern California. In summary, then, my assessment is that the U.S. government and the most senior army leaders (like Winfield Scott, the general in chief) did not intend or sanction lynching and did not issue “extermination” orders, although Harney may well have, as an individual matter, talked in this way and so influenced the chatter of his subordinates. This was a terrible mistake that needlessly stiffened Brigham Young’s resolve not to let the army enter the Salt Lake Valley during 1857. For this reason, I have written repeatedly that Harney was a terrible choice for the senior leadership of a role that required tact and a deft hand. One last thought; Paul’s use of the phrase “extermination order” makes me wonder whether he is conflating the Utah War with the Missouri Mormon War of 1838-39 during which Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs did issue an extermination order to the state militia, an executive order not rescinded until 1976 by then Gov. Kit Bond. By the way, I don’t understand at all the reference in this context to a “California general” or to Dave Bigler’s writings. Can someone clarify this?

    Comment by Bill MacKinnon — June 2, 2008 @ 6:19 pm

  10. Thank you very much for weighing in, Bill!

    Comment by Jared T — June 2, 2008 @ 11:44 pm


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