We are excited to pass along the following announcement from Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City:
EVENING WITH THE EDITORS
We are excited to announce that Andrew H. Hedges, Alex D. Smith, and Brent Rogers will be at Benchmark Books, 3269 S. Main St., Ste. 250, Salt Lake City, UT 84115 on Thursday, December 3, to discuss the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 3: May 1843–June 1844 (published by the Church Historian’s Press). They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.—speaking at 6:00—and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make that night but, if not, we can mail signed copies or hold them here at the store for pick-up.
Covering May 1843 through June 1844, this volume features the conclusion of Joseph Smith’s second Nauvoo journal, kept by scribe Willard Richards. During these months, Joseph Smith was often preoccupied with legal and political matters, particularly in his role as mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, and chief justice of Nauvoo’s municipal court. Because of continued political struggles and conflict with their neighbors, Smith and his advisers contemplated relocating the church to Oregon or the Republic of Texas. The Council of Fifty, also known as “the Kingdom of God,” was formed in part to lead this effort. At the same time, church leaders grew frustrated that their petitions to the nation’s leaders for redress of losses earlier suffered in Missouri continued to prove fruitless. In response, Smith declared his candidacy for president of the United States.
Joseph Smith gave more than sixty public addresses during this time, many of which are documented in this volume. The discourses covered topics such as salvation, resurrection, baptism for the dead, priesthood ordinances, a multitiered heaven, and humanity’s potential to become like God. At times, the teachings pushed the boundaries of what Smith’s listeners were prepared to believe. Smith also continued to introduce temple ordinances, including eternal and plural marriage ceremonies, to a growing number of people.
Controversial teachings, the practice of plural marriage, Joseph Smith’s growing political power, and other factors led to loud criticism of Smith and other church leaders, by both disaffected church members and prominent opponents in surrounding communities. Contemporary records such as William Clayton’s journal and the Council of Fifty minutes are employed to provide contextual background for these events. Growing tensions resulted in threats and violence. The journal refers, for instance, to conspiracies against Joseph Smith’s life, led by those who were once friends. After Nauvoo civic leaders declared the anti-Mormon newspaper the Nauvoo Expositor a public nuisance and destroyed its press, Smith and several of his associates were arrested. On the afternoon of 27 June 1844, a mob swarmed the jail in Carthage, Illinois, where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were being held, and killed both men.
This volume includes as appendixes two additional sources that shed light on the final two weeks of Joseph Smith’s life: an excerpt from Willard Richards’s journal for 23–27 June and an account of Smith’s10–22 June activities made by William Clayton. Given these scribes’ proximity to Smith, their records provide invaluable primary source material for studying the events leading to his death.
The accounts in this volume allow readers to study Smith’s daily activities and personality as well as to better situate him and the faith he founded within nineteenth-century American history. Because of Richards’s idiosyncratic handwriting, many passages of this journal have been misread and misunderstood in the past. To provide the most accurate reading possible, experts in Richards’s handwriting have meticulously transcribed Smith’s journal according to the highest standards of documentary editing. Aided by comprehensive annotation, this final installment of Joseph Smith’s journals constitutes an essential primary source for research into the life of the first leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Includes a comprehensive index for the Journals series.
Andrew H. Hedges served as managing historian of the project from 2012 to 2013. He received a PhD in American history from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, an MA in Near East studies from Brigham Young University, and a BS in zoology from Weber State College. He is currently an associate professor of LDS church history and doctrine at BYU. He has published a variety of articles on early Mormon history and edited several volumes of scholarly essays, including Disciple as Witness (2000) and Disciple as Scholar (2000).
Alex D. Smith received MA (2002) and BA (1998) degrees in history from Brigham Young University and is currently pursuing a PhD in history from the University of Utah. He was a research historian and document editor with the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, where he first began working for the Papers. His research interests and project specialization focus on the history of the church in Nauvoo.
Brent M. Rogers received a BA with honors in history from San Diego State University, an MA in public history from California State University, Sacramento, and a PhD in nineteenth-century United States history from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He previously served as a digital editor and research fellow for the Papers of William F. Cody and as an instructor in the history department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He has produced scholarship on digital history, history of the American West, and Mormon history.
The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Vol. 3: May 1843-June 1844. The Church Historian’s Press, 2015. Hardback. 641pp. $57.95