From nearly the moment Thomas L. Kane walked into Mormon history in 1846, Latter-day Saint leaders promised that his name would long be honored by the Saints. In part, they wanted to bolster Kane’s determination to take the deeply controversial stance of defending the Mormons. When his father John, a powerful federal judge, learned of Kane’s decision to befriend the Mormons by traveling to their refugee camps in Iowa in 1846, he saw only potential ruin in associating with such a disreputable cause. “The case has no bright side,” he lamented, as Tom “is about to deal a blow to his own character as a right minded man, which he will feel through life.” Thomas’s younger brother Pat agreed, calling it the “damndest foolish” notion.
Scholars of Mormonism (like scholars of most topics) need to find ways to connect their subject to larger scholarly debates and frameworks. Mormon academics have used frameworks from American religious history to western history to the history of family and gender to legal studies. Another possibility is communal studies.
The Bloggernacle has been awash lately in awards: Mormon of the Year, Mormon of the Year, 1950-present, and the Boggs-Doniphan Award. This last one asked for the most influential non-Mormon on Mormonism within the last year, for either good or ill, named about Missouri’s Governor Lilburn Boggs who infamously issued an Extermination Order against the Mormons in 1838 and for Alexander Doniphan, a Missouri militia leader who refused to execute Joseph Smith and other church leaders during the same conflict. In that same spirit, my question is: Which outsider has most influenced Latter-day Saint history, either positively or negatively?
Nineteenth-century polygamy provoked a decades-long national shouting match over the evils and virtues of the practice. It also prompted a fascinating contemplation by Elizabeth Kane of women’s rights and marital sexuality.
On June 20, 1854, Elizabeth Kane received a note from her husband that he had invited some “common men” for dinner. Elizabeth, then 17, had been married to Thomas Kane, her second cousin, for a little over a year.
In Mormon country, Thomas L. Kane is remembered, if at all, as the nineteenth-century defender of the Latter-day Saints and the hero of the Utah War of 1857-58.
I am very glad to introduce to you our next guest blogger, Matt Grow. We thought this would be a good time to have Matt blog with us because he just had a book come out last week from Yale University Press, Liberty to the Downtrodden: Thomas L. Kane, Romantic Reformer, on an important and colorful figure in early Mormon history. Adam and I knew Matt when we were all graduate students
I am a total NPR dork. I would LOVE to have Carl Kasell’s voice on my answering machine; when I was in middle school, I felt betrayed when I learned that Lake Woebegone wasn’t a real place; and I admit that I joined Ira Flatow’s Science Friday Facebook group (“for those who love Science Friday. Or Ira Flatow.”). In fact, all my scientific knowledge pretty much comes from either Science Friday or the SciFi channel. That’s essentially my disclaimer before I jump into a discussion of quantum mechanics: my knowledge of quantum entanglement is limited to how much Ira Flatow could fit into a 22 minute segment. In other words, nowhere near enough knowledge to respond to the inevitable cries of exasperation by the all the quantum physicists who regularly read T&S…
The swearing-in of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States is just around the corner. It’s an exciting time to be living in Washington, DC – even if we don’t dare leave our house to brave the swarm of people descending on the nation’s capital to watch the inauguration. Even our not-quite-two-year-old daughter is catching Obama-fever. We haven’t gone out of our way to teach her anything about Obama, but she still has absorbed quite a bit (it helps that the city is absolutely SATURATED with Obama-related stuff). She now points to pictures of Obama and yells, “Oooooobama!!“
There is a certain category of life-experiences that I refer to as “Twenty-Mark Note” stories. The name for these experiences comes from a talk by the same name, given by President Packer at BYU-Idaho in 2002 (excerpted below). I suspect that once you read President Packer’s remarks, you’ll immediately recall your own Twenty-Mark experiences:
NPR recently did a story about a group of reporters’ visit to the newly constructed Draper Temple. The Draper Temple, by all appearances, is characteristically beautiful. I am as intrigued by the process of building a new temple, as I am by the end product itself. Some of the most marvelous stories from church history involve sacrifices that the Saints – ancient and modern – have made in order to build a House consecrated to the Lord. Unfortunately, the sacrifices and challenges that go into constructing a temple are often not immediately apparent, particularly to those of us living in North America. Looking at the process from the outside, temple construction is a very clean process – one which very few of us have any direct involvement with. Most of us only participate in temple construction through tithes and offerings. The physical experience of building a temple is missing, for most of us. That’s why I find the following photos chronicling some of the…
We’re due for an infusion of new blood here at T&S, so we’ve decided to roll out the red carpet for one Sheldon G. Sheldon got his undergraduate degree from the U of U, where he majored in history, wrote his senior thesis on the reactions of LDS women to the Correlation-related changes to the Relief Society, and took advantage of every possible opportunity to taunt and belittle BYU fans. Upon graduating, Sheldon attended law school at The George Washington University Law School, where he chaired the 2008 Religious Freedom Moot Court competition. After graduating in May 2008, Sheldon took a job with a major D.C. trade association. He now intends to accrue even more student debt by pursuing a Ph.D in Religious Studies, with a focus on the role of religion in the public square. More importantly, however, Sheldon and the woman who so admirably puts up with him are also expecting their second child this summer.
We’d like to extend many thanks to Kent Larsen for a variety of interesting and thoughtful posts. We also would like to welcome our newest guest, Brigham Daniels. Brigham works as a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, where he teaches environmental law. He has been involved with LDS community, environmental law and policy, and politics for many years. So not surprisingly, Brigham intends to use his guest blogging stint to talk about Mormonism and the environment. We look forward to his posts. Welcome to the party, Brigham!