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Innocent Blood: Essential Narratives of the Mountain Meadows Massacre

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The slaughter of a wagon train of some 120 people in southern Utah on September 11, 1857, has long been the subject of controversy and debate. Innocent Blood gathers key primary sources describing the tangled story of the Mountain Meadows massacre. This wide array of contrasting perspectives, many never before published, provide a powerful and intimate picture of this “dastardly outrage” and its cover-up. A fine addition to the Kingdom in the West Series.

The documents David L. Bigler and Will Bagley have collected offer a clearer understanding of the victims, the perpetrators, and the reasons a frontier American theocracy sought to justify or conceal the participants’ guilt. These narratives make clear that, despite limited Southern Paiute involvement, white men planned the killing and their church’s highest leaders encouraged Mormon settlers to undertake the deed.

This compelling documentary record presents the primary evidence that tells the story from its contradictory perspectives. The sources let readers evaluate and track the evolution of such myths as the Paiutes’ guilt, the emigrants’ provocation of their murderers, Brigham Young’s ignorance of what happened, and John D. Lee’s sole culpability. Clearly revealed is the part Utah authorities took in blocking the investigation until it became expedient to sacrifice Lee.

Together, these narratives show how the massacre’s story has been continually distorted and then revealed over 150 years—and how the obfuscation and cover-up continue. Innocent Blood conveys the encompassing impact the atrocity had on people’s lives, then and for generations after. It is a valuable sourcebook sure to prove indispensable to future research.

ISBN-13: 9780870623622

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press

Publication Date: 12-22-2008

Pages: 516

Product Dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.30(d)

Series: Kingdom in the West: The Mormons and the American Frontier Series #12

Independent historian David L. Bigler is a Utah native, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, and a University of Utah graduate in journalism. He received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Southern Utah State College at Cedar City, now Southern Utah University. He retired as director of public affairs for U.S. Steel in 1986 to devote full time to Mormon and western history. He is a fellow and an honorary life member, Utah State Historical Society; a former director, Utah State Board of History and Friends of University of Utah Libraries; and past president, Oregon-California Trails Association. His books and articles have won awards from the Utah State Historical Society, Westerners International and The Mormon History Association. His books include The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith, University of Utah Press, 1990; Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847-1896, Arthur H. Clark, 1998; Army of Israel: Mormon Battalion Narratives, with Will Bagley, Arthur H. Clark, 2000; A Winter with the Mormons: The 1852 Letters of Jotham Goodell, Marriott Library, University of Utah, 2001; Fort Limhi: The Mormon Adventure in Oregon Territory, 1855-1857, Arthur H. Clark, 2003; and, with Will Bagley, Innocent Blood: Essential Narratives of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Arthur H. Clark, 2008. He and his wife, Evah, reside in Roseville, California. Will Bagley (1950–2021) was an independent historian who wrote about overland emigration, frontier violence, railroads, mining, and the Mormons. Bagley published extensively over the years and is the author and editor of many books, articles, and reviews in professional journals. Bagley was the general editor of Arthur H. Clark Company's documentary history series KINGDOM IN THE WEST: The Mormons and the American Frontier. Bagley was a Wallace Stegner Centennial Fellow at the University of Utah and a Archibald Hanna Jr. Fellow in American History at Yale University's Beinecke Library. Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows has won numerous awards, including a Spur Award from Western Writers of America, the Bancroft History Prize from the Denver Public Library, Westerners International Best Book, and the Western History Association Caughey Book Prize for the most distinguished book on the history of the American West. So Rugged and Mountainous: Blazing the Trails to Oregon and California, 1812–1848 is the first of the two-volume Overland West: The Story of the Oregon and California Trails series.