tv Book Discussion on American Crucifixion CSPAN May 18, 2014 10:49pm-11:50pm EDT
i know brad because i have written about independent bookstores by would have to deliver a speech to those that keep the flame alive. i might compare them to the monasteries of medieval england and ireland of learning and scholarship and a horrible ravaged countrysides and henry the eighth destroyed the monasteries and sees the properties in through the
monks out i'm sure we know a comparison but i wish politics & prose of much longer life than the monasteries in medieval england. there are three parts to what i would like to do tonight. i will explain how i came to this book but some people have already asked me i have only been here about 10 minutes and it interest warmers -- mormons from the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. i want to explain all of war made history in three years for of minutes it will help to situate why the events described hour important with mormon history and american history. lastly i want to read from my book because i am very old fashioned and i believe
an author reading they should read. [laughter] i once attended a reading by a novelist he was such a great reader i bought it on the spot. but i am very suspicious of authors who don't read at author readings. what do they have to hide? i have nothing to hide i will read from the book a little bit. of course, the truly incredible story my mother and joseph smith do share a birthday but that is not how i came to write the book. it is a tale in june 2011 by receive an e-mail from the of literary agent to say would you like to write a book about joseph smith?
i was utterly astonished for two reasons for our was reasonably sure my literary agent had a lady of whom smith was. [laughter] and it was questionable and secondly why did he said to me this e-mail? i think i realized from of midtown manhattan my friend knew that i attended church. lesotho whole intellectual world is mormons, fire away -- faraway strange attend church crazy believes. alex faraway a ten's church with creasy believes. so it turned out we had lunch with the intelligence and i a public affairs the
young guy fought every be an interesting and compelling popular history to be written. here were is the reasons he thought it is an interesting book. new religion on the american continents a very violent story obviously. some of you may or may not know murdered in cold blood by an angry mob. of violent incidents taking place on the american frontier. a and to it ended at the mississippi river when joseph smith decided to found the colony in southwestern illinois.
there was no state to use of west that was the ideal was a territory. all the law as far away as possible with all of history but you don't think of illinois that way it was a far reach of the united states fighting the indians there it was a a wild place. another reason we don't try to hide from anyone because there is sex in its. polygamy is a big deal in the book and in the life of joseph smith is essentially
the years covered here and polygamy is much more than a proximate cause. literally was a secret doctrine at the time. the literally split the church in half and i argue cost him his life. the overstatement is easily defensible because after smith dies the church does split in half. the brigham mites that followed brigham young. it is the of polygamy affirming mormons but there is the branch that was long called the reform church of jesus christ of latter-day saints that stayed in illinois that moved to independence because they refuse to except the
doctrine. joseph smith's son became president and his mother ran the first wife also identified herself with that breakaway religion for many years. wesley they thought this would be a good book can deter dow to be but it is unusual story to tell because it takes place in a very compressed piece of time. he asked me to read a book called man hunt by james swanson and is a good book the piece of popular history the search for john wilkes booth after he kills abraham lincoln. and then this takes place in a compressed time frame dissidents rise up against
joseph smith on june 7244 and he is dead june 27 to 1844. his life is extinguished in the incredibly germanic series of events. the difference between my book and swanson's excellent book man hunt, i remember reading his book. it begins with the second inaugural but one of the earliest scenes is a stable boy holding the escape course i cannot remember if he escapes or not and i was so envious because and a star in of ford's theatre
the point of departure is the event. i did not have that luxury not only researching this book but also to retell the story i had to start from zero and assume that even though relatively well informed reader like myself and do absolutely nothing about this subject. it takes me a moment george you to explain how joseph smith managed to found the largest city in illinois illinois, the southwestern town larger than chicago at the time and just takes a moment to explain how twelver 14,000 mormons got there and were chased out. now all of mormon history. not trying to be facetious but it is complicated.
kind of aggressive missionary work that continues right into the day as always been a key part of the growth for the church is growing in what will be the first of a similar event chased out of ohio. smith decides to start a bank that really was not a good idea and most of the citizens lost their money and took it out on the mormons and chased the
mormons in the middle of the mississippi river all the way to missouri. some of you either know or don't know that missouri is absolutely key for joseph smith because that's where he said he came to visit america and is situated the independence missouri and was deemed to be in the independence so people were moved all the way to missouri and they are chased out again and ann said in the 1839. extermination has a different meaning from the meaning that we mean today. it means to chased out of your boundaries they have to leave le
under force it doesn't mean they were cuddled although they were killed but they were exterminated and forced to go into illinois. now this is where my book takes place 12 to 14,000. smith started in vermont, but it is in illinois and is going to be killed here and this is where the pendulum begins, which whether it is interesting i don't know but it is worth knowing. smith is killed and a genuine threat when he are going to be code so the gun down and essentially negotiates the exterminations of calls and and he begins this incredible track
where he takes five or 6,000. he takes them out of the united states. we haven't quite completed the landgrab from mexico and spain to the great salt lake. in the great sal salt lake beesd it becomes an amazing economic power and through missionary work there comes to be a vast presence in utah but it is actually called the mormon culture and i'm sure you understand. they spread the faith over in california.
they are simply hated and chased all the way through the east coast to know where to the desert outside of the united states and that's the entire history. what's fascinating in the 20th century in my opinion is the pendulum swings back exactly differently for every reason they ostracize themselves from america in the beginning in 1890 they want to become states and the pendulum swings back where the mormons want to gain power in america the way that the pendulum swings back for the
presidency in the united states which in my mind is an incredible series of events given that they were a completely sort of ostracize and hated group and they had this one right back to the center of american power. what sets the pendulum in motion was a killing of the founder. now i'm going to read three things in a book and the first thing i'm going to read is a little bit about joseph smith himself. comparing that to the dilemma. you have to come to grips with joseph smith.
what can you say he is regarded by hundreds of millions of people as a charlatan and worse. was i going to make fun of joseph smith for 280 pages were laughing or sending out his nature and they even acknowledge he had well over 35 lives. there is a question that opposes itself to me. when i first introduced him in the book it's hardly his finest moment he's trying to escape in
a very biblical story his own fate he relays a here ... he han indicted and he will probably be code so he and his brother escaped to the iowa so they are all on a boat i start out in my book on possible in the river wr was 38-year-old joseph smith the president of the high priesthood candidate for the presidency of the united states and kingdom of god commander, the judge can't architect, reporter, postmaster, hotel operator and husband many times over from the new england man of god. people expected it to find a kind of john the baptist.
it showed every bit of flesh and hammer. they reared and scorer and the pharisees of the profession. he has attempted to administering and providing his substance than the hypocrites he told the same thing he teamed 43. perhaps they were supposed to shot now a hall as prescribed by the revelations known as wisdom, but joseph did and when he heard they had been drinking whiskey i investigated the case into satisfied that no evil had been done he gave them a couple of dollars that direction to replenish the dollar on their sleepless journey.
i paid for joseph to have an edge to him. i guess that starts on page seven because if smith indulged he came by honestly from his humble beginnings as a divine person who sees miraculous occurrences through translucent stones he had accomplished the work of several lifetimes. there were plenty of preachers with apocalyptic scenarios in the burned over district when smith started out. charles became one of the detractors and claimed to have entertained in his law office. by 1844 they were forgotten.
i am the only man that's able to keep the church together since the days of adam, he bragged to his followers before the river crossing. a large majority stood by me. either paul, john, peter ever did. the followers ran away from him but the latter day saints never ran away from me yet. huge personality i think. i will read one more. he kept a diary. people kept it for him but it's an invaluable source of information about his life he spends the morning chopping wood with the brother then.
without saying it's almost infinitely interesting. the part i am going to read i have to explain how it works. the revelation came to joseph. quite correctly that the spiritual grounding i would argue i'm not sure that i would argue successfully that it's in the old testament it is constantly likened to the people in the old testament there are many examples of polygamy. they can't have that like the people of abraham he and his followers would have to raise up seed and the have enough
children and polygamy began as a whisper that they shared only with his closest and most intimate followers. it wasn't announced as a tenant to the church until they got to utah in 1852. it was obviously a very pernicious secret that goes without saying. his absolutely closest friends and intimate companions could stomach the idea of taking on another wife. it had a sense in which it had an overlay because joseph was marrying his friends wives and they had several children.
in any event this is a sort of micro- example in the chapter and it involves a woman who first meet some joseph smith in kirkland ohio that i mentioned as one ois one of the first cold she's kind of precocious and memorized a little bit of the book of mormon and joseph praises her in a moving moment and after the leafs, someone is a 12-year-old gold they say you know who was here and she says i have no idea. she comes as a company of the angel of the lord. i take up the same story and she is now 23-years-old and she is married.
this will show how polygamy works if you will. the two young children fled missouri settled by far from illinois. she was living in a tiny dwelling when smith asked her to marry him in the early 1842. to joseph was 36-years-old the father of four children and unbeknownst to marry and any other member of his church he was the husband to eight wives including the mother of his children. joseph explained as he would to many other women and angel of the lord revealed doctrine of the plural manage three times
since 1834. they first found the teaching shocking and repugnant. on the final visit to the angel brandishing a sword said i was to obey that principle or he would display any so joseph smith testified that he adopted a polygamy only after the sword wielding angel forced him to do this. joseph told mary, 23-year-old married that they had already been together and this is the recollection i was created for him before the foundation of the earth was laid. he now further explained and he would repeat this god granted him eternal life. i know i shall be saved in the kingdom of god come he said. i have the oath of god upon and cannoitand cannot lie, furtherms wives and children would be wite granted association with him at the end of time. mary worship to the profits but
she had doubts about this new regulation. if you saw an angel, why didn't i? and how do you know the angel came from heaven blacks mary said she would accept only if they came to her. that is what happened, joseph said, and in the meantime, please don't repeat this conversation to anyone. [laughter] >> i wouldn't dream of it. i shall never tell a more go i had a talk from a married man "-end-double-quote. as a joseph counsele the josephe night she reported the person stood in front of the bed looking at me his clothes whiter than anything. i could look at the person that when i saw the face of so bright and beautiful than any earthly beings and of those eyes piercing me through and through i couldn't and were it. i must die with fear and i covered my head.
they also saw a figure in white robes. in february of 1842 on the second floor of the redbrick general store brigham young sealed mary and joseph as husband and wife for time and all eternity she was told to remain married who was out of town on business. i apologize. but the words are there before me. he did this a lot. there is a lot of new research on polygamy that is important scholarly battles going on right now. but it's safe to say many times in any case he overcomes
resistance and is generally rebuffed by women and he marries a woman who are already married in a very young girls which gets him in terrible trouble with his wife. i'm going to footnote one thing when i see brigham young married joseph to this woman for time and all eternity they will know of course they will seal himself to as many partners into separate ways this happens to be true. they conceal themselves to people that are not living for eternity.
a time and eternity is a signal that he is going to have actual husband and wife relations. he does in fact part of the eternity only meaning that they will share in his salvation at the end of the world. but i am not going to read is the kind of narrative that is in the middle of this book because what the heck, you read that. it's a story that has a lot of pace and is the a4 reference to violent story of who are the leaders of the mob. it's a very ugly story of the trial that is just in my view
unbelievably fascinating. it's important to remember that joseph smith is gunned down in cold blood by hundreds of people in broad daylight by fivetimecode 12 p.m. broad daylight on a summer day. mormons are super important population come in numerous population among other things and there will be justice for this killing and it is completely poo horrific and they fled territory and were never found so they put sort of nine people oblindpeople on trial ant kill joseph but it probably insight into the newspaper editor on trial and they put a bunch on trial but these were not the man that killed joseph and in this horribly long court
proceedings marked by the only testimony in the trial that is false everyone walks free of course so two people were killed in broad daylight and there are no consequences accept they are chased out of the state so it is a rough story. i'm going to read the final scene of my book which i -- it's very meaningful to me. i am happy i chose this as the final scene but i will have to set the stage when joseph is murdered there are four people in the so. his brother hiram, an important figure in the church, patriarch
of ththepatriarch of the churchd immediately tries to shut the door. one of the historians is actually hiding that is a little bit unfair he is pinned behind the door of the jail so he survives and there is a fourth person on the jail so. he's attended to the next day how you have a complex the local doctor loses the point to pry the bullets out of john taylor's
body. it is then that tabernacle of salt lake city. on june 271854 it is a sweltering day from the city creek that has passed and his stafdeath is now called the martyrdom. it's the most significant celebration since it happened and brigham young is the leader and is going to open the ceremony and he makes a little. what is interesting is he is invited to speak. the other guy is the only survivor of the jailhouse
massacre. not only has he survived. he's going to live another 35 years after 1854 he is going to become the president of the church taking over from the rifle brigade debate co- brigham young. the presence of the tabernacle was nothing short of miraculous just ten years before they riddled him with bullets and left him for dead after the match of us in the jail. he survived the impromptu operations without amnesty is shy but like mormonism itself she hadn't survived he had
they were constantly moving underground headquarters on the dodge. this is pure carbon that latter-day saints opened rebellion. it was published in the newspaper after the killings. this was the attempt to narrate the last days and all of their agonizing detail and the ghastly shoot out they leaned against the door and someone fired a gun through the keyhole and they came through and struck them in the face. they are damned and we should
but they accept that they don't accept that for instance correct me if i'm wrong but i'm pretty confident they can gain the priesthood endowment and the communities. ithat is a huge deal in salt lae city where they are not allowed inside the temple to get the priesthood right. you started with basically zero knowledge from scratch in the
buck. did you do the hysteroscopy comin, notfiction but creative n and also you chose to be a bit more detached. how did you find yourself tempted to add personality to the characters in certain dialogue and how did you choose which quotes to add and this gave one character one personality than it did. the best popular history i think
is readable and factual. the quotes were all taken. it's been told once in fiction and nonfiction. it was absolutely essential to make this a trauma with fascinating characters participating. there were other characters that i discovered, the unprincipled newspaper editor and the peace of the governor that i compared upon the pilot, but
doubledealing captain robert smith. it was important to find seven major actors in this book and yes i want to see who they were and have the lifelike qualities of some kind but i didn't make up anything about them or exaggerate the role. >> we were like a country made up of many diverse religions. we have experience with people of other faith.
did they refuse to join the rest of the community or keep themselves separate the people got suspicious and willing to cooperate. it's hard to know in what order. but to start with the religion there is a strangeness. there is the heresy. that divides them from every religious american of their time.
both in missouri and illinois they voted as a bloc and that obviously made the pre-existing residents irate and they made them specifically in england. this town, this colony was growing very quickly so they quickly outnumbered the so-called old settlers and dominated the politics and it turns out you can have quite a bit of politics in illinois at self.
they are insular or cohesive resource would've two sides of the same coin. economically they take a lot of people off because it became economically powerful. there were these allegations of cheating in fact most of which probably were not true but they were sort of easy targets for less economically cookies and successful groups. so no public enemy was sort of the icing on the cake.
it was a cake with many layers and it was from inventory. they would proceed to themselves even to this day as different from men and women of other faiths and that was simply true at this time as well. >> i have a couple of questions. how did he precedes your book? and the second one is the group in salt lake city still a spouse polygamy and if not, when did it stop?
>> there's all kinds. the liberal formal, reformed mormons, ex- mormons, true blue mormons. mormons. each group will mormons don't like this book. that was to be anticipated for various reasons. but it's been fairly well. it's only been out for a week but it's been fairly well received frankly. because you could almost say for the wrong reasons they censored a great deal of their own history. they've kept polygamy out of the story of their own passed up until maybe 30 or 40 years ago which is a mistake. i was at a group two nights ago and half the people read the
book and they were just generally interested and i apologize. tell me your second question. >> the second question have to do with polygamy is not legal in this country and i wonder at what point and positioned. >> if it is part of us that i'm attempting to describe. when they realize that they have gone too far they want to be a state and participate because it is worth being part of and the one thing that is keeping them from being a statist polygamy so in 1890, the president will what rough says there will be no polygamy marriages is tricky because there are hundreds of marriages that are not gone away
with him anyway so what would actually happen is that the public domain becomes outlawed and utah. they become a state very quickly in 1893 i think, but not until 19 tens or is a sort of second declaration from the church that we really meant it about polygamy. through the trial there are so-called fundamentalist mormons do see the fundamentalist mormons hearken back to joseph
smith to the fundamental teachings of the church where it's in the old testament so these people that you see on tv, the fundamentalist mormons feel that they are the true followers and if they feel that people insult lake city are the heretics so this gets complicated very quickly. the one thing that i sort of learned of it is a pretty grandiose term naturally i watched some episodes of the series who is a temple mormons indulging in polygamy and naturally i assumed that was rubbish daydreamed up and it turns out that it's not. they are faithful to the church
that are polygamists but that is certainly not open. >> you mentioned that the governor is one thing that comes up with the title american crucifixion. but when did you think of that as being the title? when you've got started or when you developed the story? it's kind of an interesting title that draws a lot of attention. which is a publishing house to get the contract it was hard
because i was learning things quickly and early in the game like in november of 2011 or something our lightbulb went off and i sent him an e-mail even if i don't think will give you this title american crucifixion. because i thought it was a terrific title and this governor is a messed up here are but smith himself compared himself to compared himself to jesus and he said i go to the lamb to slaughter he uses the metaphor before in his own life.
as a serious holy person i suppose it is an anthology that would not escape him so i just sort of went with it. i like the title. it's something i haven't mentioned but i can't think of another example where a person in america is killed for his or her religious tvs. so it seems traumatic enough to me. i had the impressio impression s being politically and economically they wanted to change the religious belief of the local area to theocracy and that is one of the reasons the title wasn't good.
>> i would say no. i write about this. it wasn't really all that religious although there's a lot of letters from methodist preachers complaining about joseph smith, but apparently it wasn't a very churchy part of the world, so that isn't where they were making their converts. so, fascinatingly the future secretary of state wrote a famous article about the killing of joseph smith and he did not witness because he was like 8-years-old.
the second one became a union general with the johnston asks buchanan's orders to put an end to the mormon aristide's and another that you grow up but by that time at whic time and withe battalion in the mexican war and i'm wondering if you had heard of these -- >> i'm going to let you down a second time