Our way or nothing at all, thought Gov. Brigham Young and his constituents. The year was 1857, and it’s safe to say that Utah’s rebellion—the first to be launched by a territory—wasn’t pleasing to the national government. President James Buchanan said, “Humanity itself requires that we should put it down in such a manner that it shall be the last.”
“People don’t really understand what the so-called Utah War was about,” says antiquarian bookseller Ken Sanders about what he calls one of the 19th-century West’s most important events. “It’s this whole progress from the 1840s to statehood [in 1896].”
Polygamy was a major point of contention, on top of the outposts Young established to create the state of Deseret. American troops were deployed west as the semi-theocracy under Young burned army supply wagons and was involved in the deaths of some 120 men, women and children on their way to California. Tensions rose, but the dispute was ultimately resolved through the most paranoid, fearful time in the state’s history, Sanders says.
Acclaimed Western historians Will Bagley and David Bigler have dug through the history books to mine some untouched facts for The Mormon Rebellion. They’ve cited long-suppressed sources to create a work that could seem daunting and dense for nonhistory buffs, but the duo demonstrates prose needn’t be sacrificed for historical fact.
Bigler and Bagley will read tonight, followed by a Q&A session.