In the Whirlpool: The Pre-Manifesto Letters to President Wilford Woodruff to the William Atkin Family, 1885-1890

Overview


Political and religious turmoil in the late 1800s plagued the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders. As Utah statehood loomed, Congress aggressively moved against Mormons who engaged in polygamy. More than a thousand men were jailed and others were forced into hiding. One of those who went into hiding in 1879 was Wilford Woodruff, who became church president in 1887. Woodruff sought sanctuary with the family of William and Rachel Atkin and others throughout the 1880s. This ...
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Overview


Political and religious turmoil in the late 1800s plagued the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders. As Utah statehood loomed, Congress aggressively moved against Mormons who engaged in polygamy. More than a thousand men were jailed and others were forced into hiding. One of those who went into hiding in 1879 was Wilford Woodruff, who became church president in 1887. Woodruff sought sanctuary with the family of William and Rachel Atkin and others throughout the 1880s. This never-before-published collection of Woodruff's letters to the Atkins, edited by Reid L. Neilson, reveals the church leader's political and spiritual conflicts in the five years leading up to his 1890 Manifesto, which officially disallowed polygamy.

Woodruff's nearly 60 letters reproduced here depict a man "in the midst of a whirlpool." The church leader believed he and his people were being denied the basic American right to practice the religion of their choice, yet he recognized that polygamy was incompatible with American society. The letters also reveal Woodruff's humanity—his longing to be with friends, his sorrow over the loss of his first wife, and his struggle with illness.

Essays by Neilson, Jan Shipps, and Thomas G. Alexander provide context for
Woodruff's writing. Neilson discusses the Atkins' family life, Alexander offers a history of plural marriage among Mormons, and Shipps analyzes the impact of the Manifesto on Mormon women and men. Nearly 20 images further flesh out the correspondence and its depiction of Mormon people—who were then, like Woodruff, in the midst of change.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870623905
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 5/5/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Thomas G. Alexander is Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr., Professor of Western American History Emeritus at Brigham Young University and author of Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890–1930.

Jan Shipps is the author or editor of several books on Mormonism, including Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations 9

Preface 11

Acknowledgements 19

Editorial Method 21

Part 1 Introduction

A Friendship Forged in Exile: Wilford Woodruff and the William and Rachel Atkin Family Reid L. Neilson 27

The Odyssey of a Latter-day Prophet: Wilford Woodruff and the Manifesto of 1890 Thomas G. Alexander 57

The Principle Revoked: Mormon Reactions to Wilford Woodruff's 1890 Manifesto Jan Shipps 113

Part 2 The Pre-Manifesto Correspondence, 1885-1890

December 1885 127

July-December 1887 132

January-December 1888 149

January-December 1889 171

January-December 1890 184

Appendices

1 Wilford Woodruff Chronology 199

2 The Families of Wilford Woodruff and William Atkin 204

3 1890 Manifesto Announcement (Doctrine and Covenants, Official Declaration 1) 207

Further Reading 213

List of Contributors 217

Index 219

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