Thomas Jefferson was a Christian in the sense that he believed in Jesus as a great moral teacher, but not as the Son of God. He even created a “Jefferson Bible” in which he reconstructed the book without references to miracles and divinity. In this interview, biographer Thomas S. Kidd places Jefferson’s beliefs and actions in the context of the Founding Fathers and the Bible.
There was a coverup in the aftermath of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. However, it didn’t involve Brigham Young and the institutional church. The tragic story of the massacre’s aftermath is now available in a new book published by Rick Turley and Barbara Jones Brown. In this interview, they explain the complicated responses in the decades following the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Belle Harris was one of very few women to serve time in prison and to keep a journal in 19th century Utah. Her crime was not testifying against her polygamous ex-husband during a time when the United States was attacking the Latter-day Saint principle of plural marriage introduced Joseph Smith. In this interview, Ken Adkins discusses the Prison Journal of Belle Harris.
George Q. Cannon had complicated relationship with his son, Frank. At one point, George Q. wanted nothing to do with his rebellious son. At another, he viewed Frank as a key negotiator on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this interview, biographer Val Holley expounds on the complex dynamic between Frank J. Cannon and George Q. Cannon.
John Milton Bernhisel had an outsized influence on the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a loyal friend to Joseph Smith, negotiated with the federal government on behalf of the Latter-day Saints, and had a hot-and-cold relationship with Brigham Young. In this interview, biographer Bruce W. Worthen tells the story of John Bernhisel and the Latter-day Saints.
Perhaps no book influenced America’s Founding Fathers more than the Bible. But their use of the book didn’t always have religious ties like it did for the settlers of Plymouth Colony. For example, the Holy Bible was often referenced by leaders like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin—men who didn’t believe in its Divine origins. In this interview, Daniel L. Dreisbach explains what the Bible meant to America’s founders.
One of many little-known facts about Brigham Young is that he established a pioneer mail system. It was called the Brigham Young Express and Carrying Company, and included a “swift pony express” that predated the legendary Pony Express by several years. In this interview, Devan Jensen explains that the company was a contributing factor to the Utah War—and that it could have transformed the American West if not stopped by the federal government.
Jim Bridger is one of the most influential figures in the history of the American West. A new biography by Jerry Enzler sheds light on key events from Bridger’s life, including the mountain man’s interactions with Brigham Young and his role (or lack thereof) in the Donner Party’s demise. Enzler even tries to tell truth from fiction by examining the legend of Hugh Glass and the bear recounted in The Revenant.
Winter Quarters played a key role in the pioneer exodus of the Latter-day Saints. As many as one thousand pioneers died during the settlement’s temporary existence. It was also there that Brigham Young received his only canonized revelation. In this interview, Richard Bennett, president of the Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters, discusses the history and legacy of Winter Quarters.