Notes for the Everlost jWhat do you get when you combine boomtown dynamics theocratic bravado manifest destiny church v state battles secret and illegal marriage practices America s chaotic expansion a charismatic leader a malleable and dogmatic populace and a whole lot of fun and wackiness Something like Nauvoo Illinois in the mid nineteenth century And Benjamin E Park s book does a fantasticob weaving all of these threads in an instructive fair and compelling wayPark unearths vital information that isn t widely and easily available to modern Mormons he goes deeper than the shiny toothless representation of the Nauvoo period proferred by Mormon leaders and their correlation mandated materials Some of those friendlier happenings are true and essential to the story but when they are isolated it gives a faulty lifeless utopian feel to a vicious and visionary paradigm in both Mormon and American history It s imperative that both the Mormon and historical contexts go together in a CS Lewis which shear is essential in scissors way for the story and Park has the skills and sheer expertise to accomplish the task raising the ghosts not When I Moan (Vassi and Seri 1: Russian Stepbrother Romance) just among the brick and ornate edifices but the fallen wooden shacks and buildings as wellIn the book s final pages a personal connection brought meoy My great grandma 4 Mary Ann Frost Pratt was fed up with the secret polygamy of her husband one of the earliest Mormon apostles Parley Pratt and was granted a divorce from him I was happy to see her name in print since it took much resolve to stand up for one s self amid such patriarchal secrecy It really meant a lot that a book of this import includes such seemingly small details since her husband my great grandpa 4 has had endless ink used on his behalf She s a hero of mine and I feel honored to be her descendantThe book has my highest recommendation and I will soon re read it and re listen on Audible as well I am not as well read in Mormon history as I once was back when my work as the Book Review editor for Dialogue A Journal of Mormon Thought kept me if not thoroughly familiar with all the books of history which passed through my hands than at least abreast of most of the developments in the field But it s been a few years since I ve attended closely to such conversations so I don t know if Benjamin Park s superb history is as uniue or needed as I feel it is upon reading it Still that s my reaction however unrepresentative of the current state of the sub discipline it may be and I m standing by it this is the most full and satisfying work of early Mormon history I ve read since Richard Bushman s ground breaking biography of Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling many years And looking back on my thoughts about and reactions to the story which that book told I realize how appropriate it is that Park s book put me in mind of Bushman s biography because the story Park tells making use of information about Smith s Council of Fifty which was unavailable to Bushman deepens our engagement with uestions anyone interested in early Mormon history must have about Smith s own relationship to American pluralism liberalism and democracy uestions which arguably Park answers differently than Bushman didTo put it as simplistically as possible Bushman presented Smith towards the end of his life at least on my reading as someone energetically even frantically and often duplicitly cobbling together in his city of Nauvoo a distinctly if unconventionally American vision for himself and the Mormon people political power economic growth military strength personal liberty etc Park however emphasizes the profoundly #if usual The main focus on Joseph Smith s attempt to establish a theocracy in response to #usual The main focus on Joseph Smith s attempt to establish a theocracy in response to s failure to protect them as religious minorities on the American Frontier is fascinating and well done I was expecting the notes from the Council of 50 to be revealing and to take a prominent role in the argument In some ways I feel like the book could have been accomplished without them Readers WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH SHOULD PROBABLY NOTE are members of the Church should probably note this is an academic approach with no spiritual considerations of the church or Joseph In 2016 the Church of the Latter Day Saints released approximately 150 extraordinary new documents from the 1840 s Mr Park has thoroughly researched these sources to present a well balanced account of a little known time in early Mormon history vis a vis KINGDOM OF NAUVOOThe majority of this book takes place between 1839 1845 By 1939 the Mormons are again forced by fearful and critical neighbors to leave their homes and strike out for a new safe haven This is especially the case as a massacring mob sweeps through their Missouri village at the behest of Missouri s governor and exterminate s 17 men women and children The Mormons flee across the Mississippi River and eventually congregate in the area of Commerce Illinois As the Mormons look to settle again their prophet Joseph Smith purchases 700 acres on the peninsula that includes Commerce renaming it Nauvoo a word of Hebrew origin meaning a beautiful situation In Nauvoo the Mormons work their land worship God and relish in their newfound religious Paradise Nauvoo enjoys a regular stream of new members to the area and by 1845 Nauvoo is larger than Chicago However religious intolerance of their neighbors both near and across the river in Missouri see the saints establish an impressive militia and their own courts to protect them from the unruly American democracy of which they are at theocratic and philosophic oddsAs Nauvoo s population grows and resulting political activity and influence become apparent so do the rumors of unlawful relationships and uestionable ecclesiastical revelations Smith s tight ball of control begins
"TO UNRAVEL AS DIFFERENT THREADS ARE "unravel as different threads are revealing the new practice of Mormon polygamy Once the truth is brought out into the light the downfall of Smith and Nauvoo begins as a result of gobsmacked non polygamist Mormons and non MormonsI found this book to be very interesting and informative It seems that Mr Park delved into the meat of each one of the new sources of information to bring this book to fruition The cover of the book is beautiful and evocative of a farmer s utopia Within the book there are pictures to aid and complement the reader s understandingAs much as the book is interesting it becomes dry at times and hard to follow the actual time period as it seems to go back and forth but this may be a function of the breadth of info that had been gleaned Also it seems to me that phrases are intermittently repeated which are not necessary And lastly while I always enjo. Compared to the Puritans Mormons have rarely gotten their due often treated as fringe cultists or marginalized polygamists unworthy of serious examination In Kingdom of Nauvoo Benjamin E Park excavates the brief tragic life of a lost Mormon city demonstrating that the Mormons are essential to understanding American history writ large Usi.
Benjamin E. Park ¸ 2 Read & downloadInfamous statement to Joseph Smith that your cause is No Biggy! just but I can do nothing for you came not so much from a personal failing but the fact that van Buren and most of America at the time believed that the national government should not and COULD not intervene in theurisdiction of the states Religious freedom was a state not a national issueJoseph Smith implored the federal government to take a much bigger role in protecting unalienable rights not so unlike abolitionists were advocating elsewhere though focused of course on religious freedom and not racial injustice This appeal for a stronger federal government is ironic because most American Mormons today are strongly anti federal government One of his attempts to secure this was to run for President of the United States in 1844 though of course his campaign was cut short by his fateful episode in Carthage Jail that summerPark takes us through the years 1839 1847 as Nauvoo was established and the Mormon leadership essentially cut off most ties from the ethos of the United States and established their own independent kingdom Although this is usually explained to be a metaphorical kingdom by most LDS apologists for Joseph Smith it was very literal God was soon to show his hand cut off America and the rest of his world from his presence and establish His Kingdom on earth Nauvoo guided by the Church was the preparatory place with Joseph Smith at the very real head The Council of 50 which he created and which superseded all other governing Church bodies anointed him to be King in this apocalyptic realm Not ust in a sort of celestial sphere but an actual one on earthWhat is most compelling about this book is Nauvoo s relationship to the American experiment The USA wasn t that old during Joseph s lifetime and many people wondered whether the Spirit of 76 had taken them anywhere at all NUMEROUS groups including religious ones wrote off the American Dream as a failure and decided to create their own Nauvoo leaders even drafted their own replacement constitution These groups sought to reestablish what they believed was TRUE government experimenting with radical changes in politics economics and sexuality Mormonism was no exception In fact the Nauvoo Experiment was perhaps the most successful of them all reaching its height in 1842 3 before burning up in the heat of its own zeal Polygamy was perhaps its most infamous experiment and contributed directly to the dissolution of yet another one of Joseph Smith s attempted Zion societies A few observations here First this book makes clear that Joseph Smith was very interested in power and securing it for himself and his closest associates His constant revisions to Mormon doctrine and Church practice and hierarchy were ALL made in an effort to establish his vision on his followers An apologist would say that it was God s vision he was trying to establish but the fact that this always elevated and reaffirmed Joseph s social position begs the uestion When one hierarchical system didn t pan out he created a new one and Nauvoo was a fertile place for new leading groups evolving from the First Presidency s supremacy to the uorum of the Anointed to the Council of Fifty Once the members of one group could no longer be trusted a newer and authoritative body superseded it The same went for ordinances Baptism was originally THE saving ordinance later superseded by the endowment and then even later superseded by the second anointing Doctrine too changed #Along Similar Lines Salvation Was Good The #similar lines Salvation was good the Kingdom was better but exaltation with a host of spouses and progeny was best And THAT could only be granted through Joseph himself and his priestly prophetic mediation Technically this came from God but why split hairsSecond polygamy was a mess Its secretive introduction and clandestine nature didn t help The fact that it became tied directly to exaltation the next NEXT best thing to getting to Heaven didn t do it any favors In fact it allowed Joseph to encourage coerce many women to marry him many rather young women If they married him they and their whole family would be exalted If they didn t they had no promise His attitude in these matters seemed to be don t shoot God s messenger which again further begs the uestionThird Brigham Young was a effective leader than Joseph Smith was Whereas Joseph was rather chaotic sensitive to criticism and solved problems by patching them up rather than admitting faults and rebooting Brigham was a tyrant and I use that word in its classical sense an absolute ruler who brooks no opposition and makes no apologies Instead of cowing about polygamy he dove right into it dividing Joseph s former plural wives between himself Heber C Kimball and John Taylor while of course taking on Instead of placating concerns he excoriated those who opposed him including Joseph s first and only legal wife Emma Instead of hemming and hawing about authority he put a portrait of himself and the other Apostles in the Celestial room of the Nauvoo Temple Instead of trying to pretend to be part of the American system or reform it he abandoned it altogether What Joseph introduced Brigham perfected Had he not Mormonism wouldn t have survived but been far Balkanized than it is even todayThe traditional LDS Church narrative about Nauvoo and the early Church is that the Mormons went from one scene of persecution to another driven from place to place by wicked devil inspired people This book and any other book that seeks to present a historical rather than a hagiographical portrait of the Mormon story strongly suggests that the story is far nuanced The Nauvoo I visited as a teenager with its restored red brick buildings sleepy town feeling and smiling service missionaries dancing around in mid 19th century clothing belies a much complex history than most Latter day Saints understand Nauvoo was every inch a radical experiment on the American frontier and one with serious uestions about the extent of Biblical interpretation self rule sexual consent and religious freedom that often fail to be satisfactorily addressed in modern LDS discourse I didn t want to like this book and for the first hundred pages I felt ustified in my feelings There wasn t much in those first 100 pages that I didn t
know or hadn t read before The rest of the book though wow I loved his analysis andor hadn t read before The rest of the book though wow I loved his analysis and of events It was fast paced and I felt that I could picture things as they happened Most importantly it provided some excellent lenses to see Joseph and Nauvoo in new ways that have strengthened my faith but also increased my charityunderstanding for humanity. About opposed him but the greater threat came from without in 1844 a mob murdered Joseph precipitating the Mormon trek to Utah Throughout his absorbing chronicle Park shows that far from being outsiders the Mormons were representative of their era in their distrust of democracy and their attempt to forge a sovereign society of their own. .
Y pictures to help my understanding when reading I find that in my copy about half of them are so faint as to be illegible or not of good ualityThe slight negatives aside I recommend this book to anyone who loves history or who is curious about early Mormon history The forgotten is now revealedMy thanks to Liveright Publishing and the author Benjamin E Park for this ARC in exchange for a review With newly released documents Park has created a definitive history of the Mormon church s polygamy chapter in Nauvoo The book is really well written and thought provoking Growing up in uincy Illinois which is relatively close all things considered to Nauvoo a trip to Nauvoo to see where the nutty Mormons as my father called them tried to set up a religious kingdom was almost a must see type of experience In addition having seen a movie on the Late Show which was what the local TV stations used to show at 1030 CT instead of a talk show featuring someone who is about as funny as a bad case of hemorrhoids I became and curious over the years about the Mormon experience in Illinois At some point we made the trip to Nauvoo but now some 67 years later I honestly have to admit to remembering nothing about itHaving said all that when I saw this book was coming out I was hoping it would fill in the blanks and remind me what the Mormon s time in Illinois was all about and I have to admit it did all that and Meticulously researched and drawing upon documents from the Latter Day Saints church Benjamin Park takes the reader back to before Nauvoo explains what Nauvoo was all about and why it came to be and culminates in the exodus of the Mormon faithful eventually winding up in Salt Lake City Over the years I have known a number of people who were members of the Mormon church and it s safe to say the church has changed a great deal since the 1840 s I can t imagine any of the people I have known engaging in polygamy for example I found that having one was than enough thank you very much yet that belief was one of the major problems that tended to separate the Mormons from most Americans although it wasn t the only one Joseph Smith the church s founder for example most assuredly had developed a God complex which eventually led to his downfall and executionThis book presents a truly fascinating look at the early years of the Mormon church and if you ve ever wondered how it came to be what it was all about in the early years and how it almost self destructed this is must readingIf there is one drawback it would be the lack of illustrations While there are some all from the 1800 s a look at modern day Nauvoo would have been helpful and of interest It s truly amazing how a city of 10000 or people has settled into a sleepy tourist area today with about 1800 people calling it homeThis book isn t for everyone but if you have an interest in the Mormon church early American history particularly during the religious boom of the mid 1800 s this will give a good insight into what it was all about the reciprocity reuired to maintain democratic balance between citizenry and government seemed to erode on the American frontier where tyrannical majorities stamped out dissent Ben E Park alluding to both Lincoln and Tocueville in Kingdom of NauvooHaving grown up in the #LDS faith tradition my relationship to both Mormon history and Nauvoo was largely influenced by a purely and almost myth #faith my relationship to both Mormon history and Nauvoo was largely influenced by a purely religious and almost myth history I knew that Mormon history in the 1830s 40s took place before the Civil War in New York Ohio Missouri Illinois and eventually Utah but I largely thought of pre Civil War Jacksonian America and the pre Utah A wild ride from start to finish Despite knowing the end from the beginning and the broad contours along the way I compulsively consumed Park s account of *Joseph Smith s religious social and political innovations during his time *Smith s religious social and political innovations during his time Nauvoo For the first time I feel that I understand both sides of the the conflict between Illinois and the Mormons The former were not devils solely hell bent on destroying God s kingdom and the latter were not well saints innocent of any offense The Mormon practice of bloc voting was deeply anti democratic though understandable given the failure of democracy in protecting their rights in Missouri and the unresponsiveness of the federal government to Mormon pleas for redress Nauvoo s municipal abuse of habeas corpus review subverted the US legal system and was both a response to failures of that legal system and prompted further rejection of the US courts to settle disputes And the double dealing on Mormon polygamy in Nauvoo Joseph and later Hyrum privately expanded the number of non monogamous sealings while publicly denying any such behavior only worsened the Mormon predicament Brigham Young s later decision to be public about plural marriage allows me to at least entertain the possibility that polygamy served a divine function but to me Joseph s secret polygamy is morally indistinguishable from John Bennett s many illicit affairs Ultimately while Joseph did not deserve to be assassinated he needed to be held accountable I find it interesting that decades later Utah was not allowed to enter the union until the federal government had rectified these three Mormon practices the Church president was not allowed to be the territorial governor polygamy was outlawed and the Saints had to adopt the two party political system even though one of those parties was founded on eradicating polygamyThe details on the Council of Fifty were all new to me and underscored two ideas First I was aware that the Utah Saints were antagonistic towards the US and even expected hoped the Civil War would destroy the US altogether but I d thought that antagonism originated with Smith s martyrdom Park makes it clear that Mormons were already hostile to democracy not without reason during Joseph s life Second Joseph had no final structure for Church governance in mind He was constantly innovating new councils and governing bodies and would have continued to do so as long as he lived I ve been to Nauvoo My siblings and I rather irreverently listened to All Star by Smashmouth while parked outside the Redbrick Store Sorry ancestors I enjoyed the trip but there s certainly a deeper layer of history in this city than the tour guides will tell you about when you goFor one by the time the Latter day Saints Mormons got to Nauvoo they were very much of the belief that America had failed them The Jacksonian style hands off federal government had refused to help them in their persecution especially in the explosive atmosphere of Missouri Martin van Buren Ng newly accessible sources Park recreates the Mormons’ 1839 flight from Missouri to Illinois There under the charismatic leadership of Joseph Smith they founded Nauvoo which shimmered briefly but Smith’s challenge to democratic traditions as well as his new doctrine of polygamy would bring about its fall His wife Emma rarely written. .