Friday, March 27, 2015

A Fairly Short History of Mormonism — Part 5 - Utah Period

The LDS had no idea where to go - only westward.  Once in Iowa, they formed orderly companies for the journey.  The lead unit left several small camps where they built shelters and planted crops along the way for the following units' benefit.  Their first stop was at Sugar Creek, with -20 degrees and snow.  They remained there for about a month before moving on, adding to their numbers through many children being born.  The first unit was hampered in their travel by the winter weather and took until July before they arrived at Council Bluffs.  They planted several camps on both sides of the river, with the main camp being just north of Omaha, known as Winter Quarters.

The last company leaving Nauvoo endured the most hardships since they were forced out without adequate provisions.  They arrived at Council Bluffs on November 27th.

In April of 1847, Young and a pioneer band headed out of Winter Quarters.  At Grand Island they decided not to cross to the Oregon trail so as to be able to have their own route without interference.  However, at Ft. Laramie they decided to cross the Platte and join with the Oregon trail.  At the next Platte crossing the Mormons established a ferry for travelers, by which the Mormons were paid in goods.  The site was established by the Mormons for the permanent benefit of the companies that would be following.  The pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 22nd and decided that would be their destination.  The town was laid out immediately.

In February 1848 emigrants began leaving England again; gross misrepresentation enticed thousands.  By September 1850 a fund was established to assist poor emigrants.  Keokuk, IA became a point of departure from the river in 1853; in 1854 Independence, Missouri became point of departure for the west.

In 1855 financial problems forced Young to develop a scheme for immigrants to cross the country with handcarts.  In 1856 Iowa City was named as the terminus of the railroad trip and the point of departure for the handcart trip.  This scheme led to mismanagement and disaster for some of the companies that ended up being trapped in the mountains in blizzard conditions without provisions.

Young set up the government in Utah and in 1849 appealed for statehood (as the State of Deseret) because that would give them more autonomy than being a territory.  However,  in 1850 the government organized it as a territory with Young as the governor in 1851.  

Brigham Young was very much a dictator and made polygamy official.  Pilgrims passing through the territory to California were often mistreated and sometimes killed, especially if they were from Missouri.  They were taxed heavily, and some wagon trains were plundered, and the mail often robbed.

Dissenters from the church were executed under the new doctrine of Blood Atonement.  Anyone wanting to leave the church and Utah were threatened and sometimes killed, although there were those who were able to escape.

The Mormons held the Federal Government in contempt.  As a result, in 1856 the Danites attacked Federal surveyors, and Young repudiated US authority.  At the same time, he continued to seek statehood for the sovereignty it would give "Deseret" over being a territory.  

In June 1857 Young wanted a mail contract from Independence to Salt Lake City, but the government couldn't trust the Mormons because evidence showed that they examined the mails, so the government denied the contract, which inflamed the Mormons.  In July, troops were dispatched to Utah to enforce the law and bring in a new governor.  When Mormons heard about them coming, Young announced to his people that the US was invading them.  Over the next few weeks threats were made against the troops in sermons and editorials.  The Legion was mobilized and Young declared Utah under martial law.

On September 11, 1857 the Mormons committed what has become known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  Thirty families were traveling in a wagon train to California; they were people of means, some traveling in private carriages, mostly Methodists and mostly from Arkansas.  Mormon leader Parley Pratt had been killed in Arkansas for seducing another man's wife, so the Mormons held all of Arkansas responsible for the act and sought revenge on this wagon train. 

Mormons led Indians in an attack on the train, but the train was well organized and circled for protection and dug in.  During the attack the train lost 7 dead and 16 wounded, while the Indians lost 3 dead.  The defenders lasted four days before Mormons approached them with a flag of truce, claiming that if they left their wagons and arms to the Indians, the Mormons could escort them to safety.  The Arkansas group trusted the Mormons and followed them away.  The Mormons then massacred 132 men, women and children, with at least one teenage girl being raped first.  The Mormons took 17 surviving children, aged 2 months to 7 years, and gave them to Mormon families.

On September 15th  the Mormons forbade troops from entering Utah and attacked and burned supply trains.  Because of the winter weather, the Army retreated to Ft. Bridger, with loss of over 90% of their horses.  The Legion set up camp and entrenched near enough to scout and they eventually burned Ft. Bridger.

After many negotiations, Young surrendered in June 1858, but said that the troops could only pass through.  The troops marched through and encamped just inside the city limits and the war was over.  Young was not officially governor any more, but he was recognized as such by his people.

In 1859 the Mormons sold weapons to the Navajos, and tried to unite them against the US Army.  They told the Navajos that they were being cheated out of their land, grass, timber and livestock.  Then, during the Civil War, Young consistently spoke against the Union.  Meanwhile the government passed several laws against polygamy and would not allow Utah statehood.

By 1866 more non-Mormons had moved into Utah and murders by Mormons increased.  The governor finally established peace and disbanded the Legion in 1869.

Young died of cholera on August 29, 1877 and was succeeded by John Taylor, who had been in the jail with Joseph Smith when he was killed.  Several more anti-polygamy laws were passed and prosecutions began in 1884.

Taylor died in 1887 and the position of "Prophet, Seer, Revelator and President" was vacant until 1890 when Wilford Woodruff took over.  On  September 25, 1890 Woodruff issued the Manifesto ending polygamy, and Utah gained statehood six years later.  However, polygamy continued in semi-secret into the early 1900s, when most still practicing it went secretive.

Since the early 1900s, there has been little change in the doctrine of the LDS.  They will officially deny many of the doctrines brought in by Brigham Young, deny historical events, and even claim polygamy was misunderstood, in that it was only a spiritual marriage in the resurrection, as they currently teach.  While the LDS historically wanted to remain a distinct religious belief not associated with Christianity, claiming they were the true Christian faith, over the past few decades they have been trying to establish themselves as just another Christian denomination, albeit the only one with the entire truth.  This leads them to do a lot of deceiving of the media and public in general.

Having read this short history, you can readily see that this religion is not of God.

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

Part 2 of this series can be found here.

Part 3 of this series can be found here.

Part 4 of this series can be found here.


Anonymous said...

This post misrepresents history.

Having read your other blog I am not surprised.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Of course being anonymous allows you the "courage" to make such unfounded assertions. How about evidence to support your claim? Show me where I'm wrong, either on this blog or the other.