Speaker: Todd Compton

Reflecting on the Wives of Joseph Smith

In this paper Compton will tell the story of how he came to write In Sacred Loneliness: the Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. For years he had been studying Classics, ancient Greek and Latin, but a series of odd accidents led him to start transcribing and annotating the diaries of Eliza R. Snow Smith. This …

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The Beatles, Rock and Roll, and Mormonism

In this panel, Mormons who have written about the Beatles will discuss their “Mormon” experience with the band. For Compton, Paul McCartney’s emphasis on love, family, and home after the Beatle breakup led him to see Mormonism a little more sympathetically. More broadly, he sees great art, music, and literature as part of the gospel, …

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The New Western History and Mormon History

The leading historians of the “New Western History”—Patricia Limerick, Richard White, Don Worster and William Cronon—have dismantled Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis that the American character was shaped by pioneers coming to virgin land. According to Limerick et al., pioneers came west to a land already occupied, by Indians, conquered them, then marginalized them. In this …

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PLURAL LIVES: MTT ROMNEY’S POLYGAMOUS HERITAGE

Though Mormons such as Mitt Romney are now viewed as thoroughly in the conservative mainstream of America, his forefathers and mothers just a few generations back were counter-cultural crusaders, upholding a non-standard marriage system they believed was commanded by God, and that was illegal, often secret, and publicly denied by Church leaders, and which often …

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PLURAL LIVES: MITT ROMNEY’S POLYGAMOUS HERITAGE

Though Mormons such as Mitt Romney are now viewed as thoroughly entrenched in the US conservative mainstream, his ancestors only a few generations back were counter-cultural crusaders, upholding a non-standard marriage system they believed was commanded by God— polygamy. It was also illegal, often secret, and publicly denied by Church leaders, frequently forcing people in …

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THE PRINCIPLE, THE PROPHET, AND PRISON

Part I: Of Joseph Smith’s 34 plural wives, 13 had legal husbands at the time they were sealed to him. Since Fawn Brodie’s 1945 No Man Knows My History, virtually every author who has written about Nauvoo plural marriages has concluded that the prophet practiced sexual polyandry (or at least may have) with some or …

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What I Learned From Editing Gentry

While editing and updating Leland Gentry’s uperb 1965 PhD dissertation on the Mormon War in Missouri, I kept Gentry’s text largely intact but included addenda at the end of each chapter. In these, I considered: the background of the phrase “nits make lice” in indian massacres, showing demonization of minorities in Jacksonian america; whether Joseph …

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