163 years ago this month a terrible massacre occurred in southern Utah: the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Juanita Brooks was the first LDS scholar to examine the massacre, and her book published in 1957 set the standard for Mormon scholarship. In our next conversation with Will Bagley, we’ll get acquainted with him, and he will give his impressions of Brooks’ famous work.
Will: That takes me to my next subject, which is how much I admire and respect Juanita Brooks. When I began working full time on the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1995, the first thing I did was read the second edition, but this is the first edition of her Mountain Meadows Massacre. She did a minor update, which I’ve got around here, someplace, in 1970. I don’t agree with everything Juanita Brooks concluded, but I can’t help but recognize her courage and her dedication to the truth.
It was courageous book. She worked within very narrow confines but did an absolutely beautiful job. I want to read a quote… It’s not very long, but it’s absolutely the essential documents and everything that had emerged that Juanita Brooks found in her long life, because she was 52 when the book came out, and she came to four basic conclusions. The first one was, while Brigham Young and George A. Smith, the Church authorities chiefly responsible, did not specifically order the massacre, they did preach sermons and set up social conditions which made it possible. Now to me, that is assigning who holds the moral responsibility for the worst event to ever happen in Utah, outside of a couple of massacres of Indians. I think that pretty well defines who deserves to be held accountable.
Do you agree? Check out our conversation as we get more acquainted with Will.
Don’t miss our other conversations with Richard Turley & Barbara Jones Brown.
Richard Turley – Prosecuting the Cold Case: MMM
269: What Did Brigham Know, & When Did He Know It? (Turley)
268: Federal Investigation into MMM (Turley)
267: Was John D. Lee Most Guilty? (Turley)
266: Richard Turley on Saints… & Sinners (Turley)
Barbara Jones Brown on MMM
261: Who Bears Responsibility for MMM? (Jones Brown)
260: After the Killing (Jones Brown)
259: Cattle Rustling Turns Deadly (Jones Brown)
258: Tackling Myths of Mountain Meadows (Jones Brown)
257: Revenge for Haun’s Mill & Pratt’s Murder? (Jones Brown)
256: Utah War & Mountain Meadows Massacre (Jones Brown)