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tv   Book Discussion on American Crucifixion  CSPAN  May 24, 2014 8:45am-9:50am EDT

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booktv, alex beam recalls the assassination of mormon church founder joseph smith in a jail and carthage, illinois, on june 27, 1844. >> thank you. is everyone okay for listening? a little louder? okay. it's so nice to see some faces you. i'm actually returning to my hometown. i was born in george washington hospital, and it's lovely to be back in washington. i wanted to especially thank the two owners of politics and prose. i'm so happy i lost that bet. it was strategic because now he is repaying me with an appearance at this famous bookstore. i know brad partly because i've
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written about independent bookstores, and it occurred to me i would have to deliver a brief encomium to bookstores that are sort keeping flame of bookselling alive and i thought i might compare them to the monasteries in medieval england which were these islands of learning and scholarship and a horrible ravaged countryside. been a member henry viii actually toward the monasteries and seized all their property and through the monks out into the countryside. i'm sure we know who henry viii is in this particular comparison, but anyway, i wish politics and prose a long and happy life, much longer impact than the monasteries in medieval england. there's three parts to what i'd like to do tonight. i'm going to explain how i came to this book, which is a -- a question some people are asked me about, but it's a question that really interests mormons,
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members of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints, whom i've been speaking to in recent days. secondly, i want to explain all of mormon history in about three or four minutes because it will help situate where this book is, why the events that are described in this book are important both in mormon history and in american history. and lastly i want to read from a book because i'm very old-fashioned and i really believe that at an author reading, authors should read. i once attended a reading by novelist name jonathan and you such a great writer i bought his book on the spot. i'm not asking for that to happen here, but i'm very suspicious of authors who won't read that author readings. what do they have to hide? in any case i have nothing to hide and i'm going to be reading a little bit from the book.
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so i wish, i wish i had, there is of course a truly incredible story that my mother and joseph smith, the founder of the mormon church do share a birthday. but that's not come to write this book but it's a very prosaic little tale impact right now at a bad moment in my life. in june 2011 i received an e-mail from my literary agent, a one line e-mail with a misspelling saying we like to write a book about joseph smith? and i was utterly astonished for two reasons. first of all i was really sure my literate agent had no idea who joseph smith was, so this whole thing was interesting and questionable at the same time. and secondly i wondered why did he send me this e-mail, and i think i realized that from midtown manhattan my friend michael knew that i attended
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church, and to think the way his whole intellectual world is mormons far away, strange, attend church, crazy beliefs. alex, far away, attend church, possible crazy beliefs. so anyway, it turned out he had lunch with the young editor of a really intelligent guy who worked at the same publishing house, he published two books, public affairs, two books by brad, this young guy had an idea for a book and he thought there would be an interesting and compelling work of popular history to be written about the murder, the killing of joseph smith. and here are the reasons he thought it would be an interesting book. it was about religion which is inherently interesting subject, a new religion on the american
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continent but it's a very violent story, obviously. some of you may or may not know, joseph smith is murdered essentially in cold blood why an angry mob. it's a violent incident that takes place on the american frontier, which i certainly wouldn't have nothing to started researching the book. the settlement of the united states ended of the mississippi river what joseph smith decide to found his colony in far southwestern illinois. there was no state to the west of where he settled his colony. there was the iowa territory. missouri was to the west but it wasn't across the more smith was, so smith had moved his people sort of this nation as far away as possible from the seat of american power. i will get to that when i resume all history in four minutes. but it was a wild and lawless area. of course, you don't think of illinois that way, but this was
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the far reaches of the united states. abraham lincoln fought the indians there in 1830. it was a wild pleased to another reason that i don't think we can't hide from anyone, because there is sex in it. polygamy is a big deal in this book. it was a big deal in the life of joseph smith in 1843-1844, which was essentially the years that are covered. and polygamy is much more than a proximate cause. literally was a secret doctrine at the time, something i get to sort out he came with it as it were. but it literally split the church can have, and argued cost him his life. the first statement is easily defensible because after joseph smith dies, the mormon church in fact does split in half.
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would probably most of it in this room think of as the mormon church, the utah church, called the breed mice at the time, they follow brigham young across the river to utah. they were the polygamy -- but there was a prince of the church and still is, in fact, that was long called the reformed church of jesus christ of latter day saints. that state in illinois and eventually moved to independence, missouri, because its adherents refer to accept the doctrine of polygamy. joseph smith's son eventually became president of that religion. joseph smith the third and his mother, joseph smith's first wife also identified herself with the breakaway religion for many years. and lastly, they thought this would be a good book but it turned out to be a good book so that's okay. its unusual story to tell because it takes place in a very
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compressecompresse d piece of time, if you will. he asked me to read a book which some you may read called manhunt by a local author named james swanson but it doesn't book, a good popular history but it's the account of the search for john wilkes booth in the virginia countryside after he kills abraham lincoln. and he correctly new that this book takes place in a favorite compressed timeframe. dissidence rise up against joseph smith on june 7 of 1844 and his dead on june 27 of 1844. source life is sort of extinguished in incredibly dramatic and certainly unforeseen by m. series of events. the difference between my book and swanson's excellent book, manhunt, and i'll get back to this in a second if i remember reading his book and it begins
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with lincoln's second inaugural book, but one of the earlier scenes as i recall at least, is a stable boy holding john wilkes' escape worst with the horseshoes are sort of clattering to 15 street that i can remember if he escapes on a horse or not. i was so india is of the swanson because of course -- india's because he can start his story at a place that you've heard a. you can start at ford's theater with approach of heard of, john wilkes booth. his point of departure is in the that is the mode to everyone. i didn't have that luxury. modeled in researching this book but also in retelling the story i really had to start from out to do. i had to assume that even though the relatively well-informed reader like myself simply now fully nothing about this subject. and it takes me a moment or two
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to explain how joseph smith managed to found the largest city in illinois in a southwestern town, larger than chicago at the time but it just takes me a moment or two to explain how 12 to 14,000 mormons got there and eventually were chased out. now, all of mormon history. but i'm not trying to be facetious, but i am, it's complicated to do and i can be situated where my book takes place. i've never used audiovisual props and i will be starting now, but imagine that this is vermont where joseph smith is born as many of you know. this is where he interacts if you will with the angel where he gets the golden plates that become the book of mormons. this is where he found, excuse
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me, not in vermont. he moves to in your -- new york. it gets the tablets, found his religion in 1830. the mood from vermont to upstate new york and begins to gather adherents, largely on the strength of his charismatic preaching but also due to the fact is brought to the world a third bible for his followers, or his followers. the bibles or the old testament, a new custom and the book of mormons. smith again gains more people, gains adherents, gains followers and brooms -- and moved to ohio which is vermont, new york, ohio, the first serious mormon settlement. the church is growing partly through preaching, and, of
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course, also through aggressive missionary work. the kind of aggressive missionary work that continues right into our day, has always been a key part of the growth of the mormon church. so the church is growing, and in what will be the first of a series of very similar events, smith and the mormons are chased out of kirkland ohio. smith decides to start a bank which really was not a good idea and most of the citizens lost all the money in the mormon bank and they took it out on the mormons and they chased the mormons to the mississippi river, the middle. they chased the mormons all the way to missouri. some of you either know or don't know that missouri is a key place for joseph smith in the book of mormons because that's what he said jesus christ came to visit america but he also situated the original garden of eden, independence, missouri, and his original zion was deemed
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to be independence, missouri. so we moved, his people were chased out of i'll. in all the way here across the mississippi to missouri. they live in misery for three or four years and their chased out again, what's called the mormon war takes place but their extremity. there is an extermination order enacted by missouri against the mormons in 1839. extermination has a different meaning in 1839 from the meaning that we take it today. it literally means to chased out of your boundaries but it means the mormons had to leave missouri and fast and under force but it doesn't mean they were killed, although many mormons in fact were killed by angry missourians in 1839. that they are extremity, sent to the border. the board is the mississippi river and they are forced to go into illinois. now they are on the mississippi river. this is what book takes place.
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14,000 mormons, smith is eventually started in vermont, ends up in illinois, going to be killed right here in carthage, illinois, and this is where the first pendulum of mormon history begins, which was it's interesting or informative don't know but it's worth knowing. their extremity again. smith is killed. a genuine threat that many more mormons are going to be killed so brigham young essentially negotiates the extermination of thousands of mormons and says we will leave and in february 1846 he begins this incredible track to salt lake city where he takes five or 6000 mormons, exact number are not sure, perhaps more. he takes an outside attorney. there's no kind of chip equipment quite yet completed a land grab from mexico and spain. he takes them to the great salt lake. that part you know for all of the 19th century he found a country the size of france in the great salt lake basin,
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becomes an amazing economic power and then through missionary work, there come to be just a vast mormon presence, not only in utah around the great salt lake but in what is now called to the usher you know. there is a reason a lot of shares in arizona are mormons. ..
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for every reason they ostracize themselves from america and washington and new york, beginning in 1890 and later they want to become a state, dual polygamy, and mormons' want to gain power in america, the first senators elected, a big deal, talking statehood. the way the pendulum swings back, and a mormon who is a credible candidate for presidency in the united states which in my mind is an incredible series of events given that they were a completely sort of ostracized and hated group and within a hundred years they had swung back to the center of american power. what set that pendulum in motion
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was this brutal killing of the founder of their religion. i am going to read three things from the book. the first thing i am going to be is a little bit about joseph smith himself. when i was comparing my dilemma to that of writing a book about lincoln or john wilkes booth, the real dilemma is you are starting from zero and need 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, and so i had to figure out was i going to
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be making fun of joseph smith for 280 pages? laughing at him? sending up his spree optic nature? even the most staid mormons note he had 345 wives, 50 -- bear is a serious question posed itself to me. i will just read you a couple of passages of my own writing about joseph smith. one of first introduce him, he is actually trying to escape across the mississippi, very biblical story, trying to escape his own fate. he has been indicted in carthage, a lawyer, he will probably be killed. he and his brother in three other confederates escape to iowa. they are all on a boat. i start my book. bought a gun waves of the
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swollen river was the-year-old joseph smith, profit, sear and revelers for, candidate for presidency of the united states, king of the kingdom of god, commander-in-chief of the armies of israel, judge maier architect, recorder of deeds, postmaster, hotel operator, steamboat owner and has been many times over, born in vermont, smith was a far cry from the stereotypical new england man of god, people coming here expected to find john the baptist but they found a very jolly profit, a convert remembered. used to laugh from the crown of his life to the soles of his feet, it should every bit of flush in him. he was no hair shirt and profit, joseph, reared on subsistence farms, score and the pious pharisees of the preaching profession, quote, i love that man better this wears a stream as long as my arm and is
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attentive to administering to the poor and the dividing his substance, the long smith faced hypocrites' he told the saints in 1843. mormons were supposed to shun alcohol as prescribed by the revelation known as the word of wisdom but joseph didn't. when he heard the brethren had been drinking whiskey, i investigated the case satisfied no evil had been done, joseph gave a couple dollars with directions to replenish the bottle to stimulate them in fatigues of their sleepless journey. a lot of mormon reviewers quite correctly said joseph at that megalomaniacal ledge to him. i guess that starts on page 7 because if he indulged in
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megalomania he came by it honestly. from his humble beginnings as diviner and squire, a person who sees a reckless occurrences through transmission sear stones he had accomplished the work of several lifetimes. there were plenty of millenarian preachers with apocalyptic scenarios spinning their tails in northern new york's turnover district when smith started out. charles finney who became one of smith's the tractors claims to have entertained jesus christ in his law office. the campbellites, the millerites, by 1844 they were forgotten, quote, i am the only man who has ever been able to keep the church together since the days of adam, smith bragged to his followers a month before this perilous river crossing. a large majority of the hole stood behind me, paul, john, peter nor jesus ever did it. the followers of jesus ran away from him but the latter day saints never ran away from me
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yet. huge personality, you can say, at the very least. joseph kept a diary which is a big deal, and it is an invaluable source of information about his life, this is an excerpt from his diary in 1843, he spent the morning shopping would, chopping wood with the brethren who are retiring their services to him. he devotes two hours to reciting in german before he oversaw court proceedings in the upstairs office of his red brick store. joseph was mayor and justice, there was a lawsuit to adjudicate that day and the theft, supervising the court joseph looked out the window and spotted two boys fighting with clubs in front of a nearby
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tavern, quote, his journal, his own diary refers to himself in the third person, the mayor side and ran over and immediately. restocked the other, he tried standards for not breaking out the fight and walks back to his store. his final message to the three and miscreance, nobody is allowed to fight in the city but me. i am now going to have a whole chapter on polygamy. it goes without saying, it is almost infinitely interesting. the part i am going to read i will attempt to explain how polygamy worked. there was a revelation about
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polygamy came to joseph in the 1830s and quite correctly joseph's spiritual grounding, i am not sure i could argue successfully but in the old testament mormons are constantly likened to the people of the book, the jewish people and there are many examples in the old testament of polygamy. joseph smith loved to talk about and he claimed god had told him like the people of abraham, he and his followers would have to raise up seat to god and have many children and polygamy began as a whispered secret joseph shared only with his closest and most intimate followers. it was still secret at the time of his death, of polygamy wasn't announced as attentive to the mormon church until they got to utah in 1852.
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>> is a very pernicious secret, it goes without saying. every person including brigham young and joseph's wife, absolutely closest friends, simply could not stomach the idea of taking on another wife. there's a sense in which there was a non puree and overweight because he was nearing his friends's wives, there was an element of prurience to it that there is no one of his followers, joseph would claim when the angel told about polygamy even he himself was repels. in any event this is a micro example, and a woman who for its knees joseph smith as a girl, in kirkland ohio, one of the first
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colonies, kind of precocious as a little girl, memorized a little bit of the book of mormon and joseph praises her and it is a very moving moment. after joseph leaves, you know who was here? the girl says no, i have no idea, an angel of the lord was here. if joseph comes to visit your house he comes in the company of an angel or lord. i pick of the same woman's story, she is now 23 years old and she is married to. turn name is mary rollins. this will sort of show how polygamy works if you will. in 1839, mary, her husband and two young children fled missouri and settle not far from a colony in illinois. her husband suffered business reverses and had trouble running a living. her marriage taught her young children including joseph
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smith's adopted daughter julia. she was living in a tiny dwelling when smith first asked her to marry him in early 1842, mary was 23 years old, married and pregnant with her third child, joseph was 36 years old, father of four children and unbeknownst to mary and almost every other member of his church he was as an eight wide including emma, the mother of his child. joseph explains to mary as you would in many other women that angel of the board had reviewed the doctrine of plural marriage to helen three times since 1834. naturally he first found the teaching shocking of and repugnant. the angel brandishing a sword said, quote, i was to obey that principle or he would slay me. joseph smith testifies that he adopted polygamy after a sort wielding angel forced him to do
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this. joseph told mary that the two of them had already been together, quote, i was mary's recommendation i was created for him before the foundation of the earth was laid. he further explained and would repeat this to many women that god granted in the eternal life, i know i shall be saved in the kingdom of god, i have the of the got upon and god cannot live. furthermore his wives and children would be granted salvation with him at the end of time. mary rollins were shipped the profit but she had doubts about this new revelation. if you saw an angel, why didn't die? how do you know the angel came from heaven? perhaps a consent one of his angels? mary said she would accept this new teaching only then angel came to her. that will doubtless happen, joseph said. in the meantime please don't repeat this conversation to
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anyone. i wouldn't dream of that, mary answered, quote, i shall never tell a mortal i had such talks from a married man. mary parade as joseph canceled her and one night she reported, quote, a personage stood in front of the bed looking at me. its clothes were wider than anything i had ever seen. i could look at its person but when i saw its face so bright and more beautiful than any earthly beings could be and those eyes piercing me through and through i could not endorse it. it seemed almost die of fear. i fell back in bed and covered up my head. mary shared this bedroom with her mother and her aunt who also saw, quote, a figure in white robes pass from our bed to my mother's bed and pass out of the window. i resume writing. this was the sign, mary concluded, in february of 1842 on the second floor of smith's red brick general store brigham young sealed mary and joseph vaz has been dance life for all time
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and all eternity. she was told to remain married to adam weiner who was out of town on business. i apologize, what can you say? the words are there, they are there before me. joseph did this a lot. there was a lot of new research on polygamy, extremely important scholarly battles going on right now. it is safe to say, not many, many times. in any case, generally cover comes resistance. he is rarely rebuffed by women. married women who are already married to friends of his and he married young girls with to get him in terrible trouble with his wife. i will footnote one thing,
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brigham young married joseph to this woman, quote, for time and all e. eternity. mormons in the audience will know joseph seals insult to many partners in two separate ways. this happens to be true. mormons can seal themselves to people who are not living, they can be sealed for e eternity. joseph sealed himself to a woman for time and the eternity in tended to take her as his wife and generally speaking he meant to have conjugal relations and time and e. eternity is a signal that he is going to have actual husband/wife relations. and share salvation at the end
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of the world. the last thing i am going to read, what i am not going to read is a gripping narrative that is in the middle of this book. you read that. it has a lot of pace, the of 4 referenced extremely violent story, who are the leaders of the mob, how they come to get joseph. is an ugly story. the story of the trial is just in my view and believe of the fascinating. it is important remember joseph smith is gone down in cold blood, happen to have a useless berringer. hundreds of people in broad daylight is gone down at 5:12:00 p.m. broad daylight on a summer's day. the authorities such as they
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are, the governor of illinois, the mormons are superimportant population, numerous population in illinois. he insists there will be justice for this merciless killing, it is laughable but horrific of course in that it was actually know who killed joseph. those people immediately fled to the iowa territory and never found. the between 9 people on trial who didn't kill joseph but who probably they put the newspaper editor on trial, they put a bunch of rabble rouser is on trial but these were not the men who killed joseph. in this horribly farcical, long court proceeding marked by in the sense of the only testimony in this trial is fall so it has a sort of comic edge to it but everyone walks free of course. two people are killed in broad daylight and there are no
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consequences whatsoever except that the mormons are chased out of the state so it is a rough story. i am going to read the final scene in my book which is very meaningful to me. i am happy i chose this as the final scene but i have to set the stage a little bit. when those of his murdered in his jail cell there are four people in the cell, his brother hiram, important figure in the church, i believe he is the patriarch of the church at this time, killed immediately, tried to shut the door, a bullet hits him and killed immediately. one of his crimes, historian named willard richards is hiding, that is a little bit unfair but let's say he's pinned behind the door of the jail cell and the mob is firing through the door so what richard survives with a bullet next on
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his earlobe and there's a fourth person in a jail cell, john taylor, a canadian, important figure in the church, taylor shot four times in 1844, he's bleeding profusely, he rolls under a bed and put mob loses track of him. and he is a survivor of the massacre in the carthage jail and he is attended to the next day. you have a compass when you are in fourth grade, this really sharp point. the local doctor uses the deck of a compass to pry the bullets out of john taylor's body. i find taylor to be an interesting figure. ten years after to the day after smith's killing there is a ceremony, what is then the tabernacle in salt lake city, the mormons moved as a group to salt lake city, it is not the tabernacle that is there now.
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is built of adobe on june 27th, 1854, ten years after joseph's death, a sweltering day, water from city creek is passed to everyone and joseph's death is called the martyrdom. is the holy life in the event of the mormon church but this is the most significant celebration since it happened at brigham young is the leader of the mormons and he is going to open the ceremony and makes of little speech. what is interesting and i will be reading this, taylor is invited to speak. weathered richards is the only survivor of the jail house massacre. what is astonishing is not only has he survived after being pumped full of lead and bleeding to death in carthage, he is going to live another 35 years after 1854. he is going to become the president of the mormon church taking over from hated rival brigham young. that will be explained. my final scene is john taylor
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remembering, sort of, what it was like to be with joseph in the jail cell on the last day of his life. the featured speakers in 1854 in salt lake city was apostle john taylor, 45 years old, taylor's presence at the tabernacle was nothing short of miraculous just ten years before the maters riddled him with bullets and left him for dead underneath a filthy mattress in the carthage jail. he survived two impromptu operations without anesthesia but like mormonism itself taylor had not merely survived, he had prevailed. the canadian convert had unfroze brigham's 1-man rule incurring young's wrath for his lack of fealty. brigham young thought taylor was company, claiming taylor had sat at a quorum of the 12, you were my slave and you shall block my boobs. brigham young wanted to nicolmac
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about down and contends he was not brigham young, something taylor refused to do. brigham may not have revered taylor but on this day he enjoys special status as the only survivor of the carthage massacre. the other guys that did. taylor with live 33 years, it would be an you're the leader, he died with a price on his head hiding from federal deputies and the utah territory. taylor spent his last days on a farm north of salt lake city, quote, in the d o as the saints call their constantly moving underground headquarters. from federal power in washington. taylor regaled his audience with a link the first person account of the last night in the jail
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house except for will lead richards kirk memorandum published in the church newspaper after the killings, this was the first attempt to narrate the last day of the smith brothers and all their advertising detail. capt. robert smith's double dealing and ghastly final shootout who leaned against the door, fired a gun from the people, a ball came through the door and struck high room in the face, quote, they have not heard joseph wore hiram. he told a tabernacle audience. but they hurt themselves. there are hundreds in this congregation who would have been glad to be where we were. joseph and hiram lived and died men of god and will live forever more. thank you, that is the end, thank you for listening to me.
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[applause] >> and i hope there are some questions. want to come up either way? >> talk a little bit more about what happens to the reorganized church people that stayed on in independence, joseph smith iii. >> i would be happy to. they treated me really well. some really grateful -- they invited me to come live in a house which was fantastic, i lived there for a week. yes. there was a genuine schism over polygamy and in my book, not in my presentation but in my book, emma smith is really important person, joseph's first wife, she is really the female profit, the
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queen of mormonism and she always hated polygamy. she bucked brigham young the un everything pans when he took the saints to use tie she stayed in illinois and that was the seat of the church because thousands of mormons stayed with her. since i didn't write a book about them i am embarrassed to say i know she stayed in illinois for a while and i honestly don't know how the church relocated to independence which is not far away but independence is the zion that joseph intended for his people to live. that church, are you a member of that church? >> no but i have friends. >> it suffers in comparison to the muscular, broad shouldered church that brigham young founded. they are not as rich, they are
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not as numerous and they are accused by mormons of becoming watery protestants. the ultimate insult. i have been to they are now called the community of christ as you may well know. they even renamed themselves. they gave up the name reform church of latter day saints. they believe -- if you want to correct me that is fine, they believe the book of mormon to be true but there is a lot they accept that they don't accept. for example please correct me if i'm wrong but i am pretty confident that women can gain what is called the precip endowment in the community of christ and literally, literally right now that is a cute deal in
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salt lake city where women are not allowed inside the temple to the priesthood rights. mitt romney is every male mormonism essential of the mormon priesthood, no woman, there's a few struggle now. that was addressed years ago at the community of crisis. i don't think it is a thriving religion to be straight with you. >> really interesting topic. this question is about your technique and how you wrote the book. you said basically zero knowledge, subscribes writing the book comment and a history book and did you choose to make it to history as opposed to more fictional, not fiction, non-fiction, nonfiction, and
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also obviously you chose to be a bit more detached. did you find yourself to and personality like inserting dialogue and how did you choose, what clothes to add and gave one character more personality than it did, i don't know, another character. >> i think i can answer some of that. it is a work of popular history. that popular history, it is interesting. there are no quotes that are made here. the quotes are all taken. there's no fictional elements. curiously the story has been told more than once, it has
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never been told in nonfiction. it is absolutely essential to make this a drama with fascinating characters participating. you are giving joseph smith for free. it was endlessly fascinating shakespearean character. there are other characters i discovered in the genre, the and principles newspaper editor, the pusillanimous care if terror that i compared to paunches pilot, the double dealing captain robert smith. it was really important to me and that smith was an amazing character. seven major actors in this book.
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and feels that the lifelike quality of some kind, i didn't make up anything, didn't exaggerate their role. just because it was a pretty rollicking story. >> so we were like a country made up of many diverse religionss. we had experience with people of other faiths. what was it about smith and the mormons that was at the core? was it the polygamy? or did they refuse to join the rest of the community? did they keep themselves so separate people got suspicious? where they unwilling to cooperate? what made people so pain-free? >> that is a very good question. it is address in the book but
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not my presentation here. all of those factors. i will recapitulate if you will. it is hard to know in what order to take them but i chose -- i won't grave on but start with the religion. there is this strangeness of the religion, the heresy. if you are a non woman, the heresy, there's a new bible, just a straight heresy period. that the finds of mormons from every, it would be fair to say, every religious american of their time but there are other factors as well. politically they made enemies, both in missouri and in illinois because they voted in a block and control hancock county where they choose to live and that obviously made preexisting presidents i rate because due to the incredible successful
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missionary efforts specifically in england this town is calling -- was growing very quickly so the moments quickly outnumbered the so-called old settlers and dominated the politics, you dominate one county you can have a bit of sway over politics in illinois itself. there was a book written that i think is poppycock that says smith was killed because the whigs were worried about the balance of the local college vote. i think that is totally ridiculous but the mormons did have power in illinois, political power and people didn't like them for that. two of hastingther things , mor insular and cohesive. economically they took the lot of people off because they became economically powerful. mormons like to do business with mormons.
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they did not like to do business with non mormons. that allegations of cheating and that most of which probably weren't true but the mormons were easy targets for less economically cohesive and successful groups and so that led to a kind of social ostracism it is fair to say. polygamy was the icing on the cake and it was a layered cake which is frankly what you are seeing, a cake with many layers and polygamy was inflammatory for various reasons. is interesting. in the pews study mormon self-described as peculiar. they perceive themselves even to this day as strongly different
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from men and women of other faiths and that was simply true at this time as well. >> i have a couple of questions. the first one is how did the mormons receive your book? how did they perceive it? the second one is does the group in salt lake city espouse polygamy and if not when they stopped. >> right, right, right. there are all kinds of different moments. there are liberal mormons, reforms mormons, axe mormons, mormon haters, deep dish true blue mormons, the true blue mormons don't like this book. that was to be anticipated for various reasons. it has been fairly well -- it has only been a week but still. it has been fairly well received
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frankly. because you could almost say for the wrong reasons because the mormons have sensitive great deal of their own history. they have kept polygamy out of the story of their own pass up until 30 or 40 years ago which is a big mistake. it is a bad thing to hide. i am cautiously optimistic. i was at a mormon reading group two nights ago. mormons are incredibly intelligent. have the people read the book, they are generally interested i would say and i apologize, tell me your second question. >> second question had to do with polygamy is not legal in this country and i wondered at what point or what position, i know there are polygamous mormons but the church in salt lake city take a stand --
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>> that is part of the things i was attempting to describe. when the mormons are on the out swing, they really realize they have gone too far, they want to be a state, they want to participate in the united states because it is worth being part of it and the one thing that is keeping them from being a state is polygamy so 1890 the president wilfred woodrow says there will be no more polygamous marriages which is tricky because there are hundreds of polygamous marriages that aren't done away with in any way. what actually happens is polygamy becomes out lot in utah. they become a state very quickly in 1893 i think but not until 1910 there is the second declaration from the church saying we really meant this about polygamy so stop it.
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so i have akimbo views on this that i am not going to share with you. the salt lake city church condemns polygamy wherever is a see it. period. i am going to say two things. first of all, we know through television, the justice trial, whatever, there are so-called fundamentalist mormons and now that you have heard my presentation, you see fundamentalist mormons hearken back to joseph smith, to the fundamental teachings, the original teachings of the church where joseph said polygamy is in the old testament so these people that you see on tv, the fundamentalist mormons with many wives feel that they are the true followers of joseph smith and they feel the people in salt lake city are the heretics. this gets complicated really
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quickly. the one thing i sort of learned, pretty grandiose term, writing this book, naturally i watched some episodes of the hbo series big bluff, a guy named bill hendrixon who is the temple mohrmann, a straight mormon indulging polygamy. naturally i assume that was rubbish that hbo dreamed of but it is not rubbish hbo dreamed up. there are some, temple recommends mormons who are polygamous that certainly not openly because not only is it illegal but also condemned by the church. yes. >> you mentioned the governor has punches pilots, the illinois governor, one thing that comes
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up, when did you think of that as the title. and how many have the story? that is an interesting title? it draws a lot of attention. >> you know more about me or you know more about me, and the publishing house to get the contract. learning things very early in the game. and our lightbulb went off. and give you this title american crucifixion.
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and there was a chapter called under conscious pilot, this governor is a really messed up character who really does act like paunches pilot but smith himself, i read you a passage where he compared consulted john, paul, peter, jesus. he occasionally compared himself to jesus and famously and controversially, when he is called to cartage to stand trial i go as a lamb to the slaughter use the metaphor the lamb before his own life, as a serious holy person it is and analogies that would not have escaped him. i liked the title. something i haven't mentioned but i can't think of another example where a person in america is killed for his or her
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religious beliefs. it seemed dramatic enough to me. >> the quakers, the early ones anyway. >> i was reading john hay, lincoln's secretary grew up in a small town to the south and i had an impression from that, as well as being politically and economically together they wanted to change the religious basis of the local area. to a theocracy. that is one of the reasons people didn't like it and why the title is good. >> are you reading a biography of john hay? >> i can't remember who wrote what i read the >> a recently published biography? >> recently read. that is all i can -- that is all i can play. >> i don't mean to pick a fight with you. i would say no actually. i write about this, this account was not of their religious although there were a lot of
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letters from methodist preachers or congregations complaining about joseph smith calling him the devil, apparently it wasn't very churchy part of the world's. that is not where mormons were making their converts really. hey, future secretary of state, he wrote a famous article about the killing of joseph smith that he did not witness because he was eight years old. >> where all of the -- >> john hay's dad was a doctor who went to courage to kill joseph -- he was lincoln's famous secretary in the movie. hay and nikolai are his famous secretaries, lincoln had a tiny role in this and hay was a worse off signal, deliver the anti
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mormon paper. i respectfully disagree. i don't think -- they were not really proselytizing. >> another question, this was really random. i have a family, genealogical interest in the defense of joe tyler. there were three tylers that intersect with this story. one starts with comfort tyler in the syracuse area, one end, like to think of it as being at the other end. probably the best known mason in the ariane ea at the time, the d one, dan tie when to sidney johnston that you can and's
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quarters to put an end to the mormon heresies and another dan, grew up nearby comment at that time had written the mormon battalion in the mexican war. i wonder if you heard of the tylers and if you had, did the two dans meet? >> i will let you down a second time. i don't know the times. >> when smith went back to the talk his way out of this? this is what i need to do to promote the religion forever? >> what is he thinking when he
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goes back? jack is referring to this strange rowboat crossing of the mississippi on june 20th. it is very biblical, joseph is trying to escape, he wants this cup to pass from him. it is actually his wife emma who sends a letter across the mississippi and she basically says you should be ashamed of yourself. he let out for the territory to be totally crass comedy is saving his own skin. his wife, his only wife, you left us here. and these fake militia armies. it was a charismatic theocracy. volt thing depended on joseph.
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it is all coming from joseph. without him, the mormons were naked and vulnerable. and you believe in your bible in your rowboat crossing. and hide in the rockies. not totally answering your question but the last question, i don't know. really conflicting evidence. it would be more biblical, the mormons controlled their own history, it would be more biblical if he did know that he was going to his own death, if the margin was a predestined event. you can't really say that.
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he does say some things because he is intelligent. it gets lost, intelligent persons, he is fully aware of the dangers going to cart the genteel vocalizes those that says we may well die. on the other hand, he meets people two days, the same day before he is killed. he is sending a letter to the clarence darrows of illinois, absolutely the best lawyer in illinois saying get me out of here. and in the legal profession, he had a reasonable expectation he would get sprung from jail as he was from before. i am not sure he knew. thank you so much. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] >> booktv is on facebook. like us to interact with booktv guests and viewers. watch videos and get up-to-date information on events. >> peter schuck argues government is often effected because of structural flaws the played both political parties. he says by looking at government policies that have been effected we can figure out how to improve the system as hole. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> thank you, wally.


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