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Perhaps you have heard or read that I gave a talk called? Beyond Petticoats and Poultices: Finding a Women? My paper sought to address the history of how women experienced the violence in Missouri, particularly as victims of sexual violence. As part of that research, I examined the case study of Eliza R. Snow as a possible victim of a gang rape that might have left her unable to have children. I looked at a few of the rapes and attempted rapes in Missouri, recalled by various witnesses, legal testimonials, and personal accounts, with a discussion of why women are not specifically named in most sources.

The scarcity and limitation of sources has presented historians with the difficulty of uncovering a history of sexual violence in Missouri, and of identifying actual victims.

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So I concluded with an examination of a primary source that amazingly came to me only three weeks prior to the conference, via a colleague who received it from a member of the family where the source is held. The case of Eliza R. Snow has received considerable media attention in the last four days, and has invited many questions from those who have read the brief report in the Salt Lake Tribune and other outlets.

A brief newspaper report, while introducing readers to this information, could not possibly address the larger history, context, and methodology I offered in my paper. So, to that end, this post is meant to respond to those questions in brief, while also opening an important and ongoing conversation about the history of sexual violence in Church history, and the particular case of Eliza R.

The account comes from a portion of the autobiography of Alice Merrill Horne written in her later years. Horne was a member of the Utah State Legislature, a board member of the General Relief Society, and a famed art critic and patroness. Born in , she was the granddaughter of Apostle George A. Smith and Bathsheba W. Snow and other high leadership of the Relief Society in Utah Territory. I quote here using Alice Merrill Horne?

The most important Mormon women of the nineteenth century often gathered at the Smith home abutting the Church Historian? Alice would?

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It was there, at one of these rendezvous of feminine confidences, young Alice overheard the account of the brutal gang rape of Eliza R. There was a saint? The horror, the anguish, despair, hopelessness of the innocent victim was dwelt upon. All the aspirations of a saintly virgin? In this case, the rape left its victim not only emotionally scarred, but also permanently affected. Eliza R. Snow would never be able to have children. Horne links Eliza? To her, the connection was clear:? The prophet heard and had compassion. This Saint, whose lofty ideals, whose person had been crucified, was yet to become the corner of female work.

To her, no child could be born and yet she would be a Mother in Israel. One to whom all eyes should turn, to whom all ears would listen to hear her sing in tongues the praises of Zion. She was promised honor above all women, save only Emma, but her marriage to the prophet would be only for heaven.? So, with that brief introduction to the source upon which I am basing my argument for Eliza R. The first question has to do with the authenticity of the source itself. Admittedly, the source is problematic, as a hearsay account written forty or fifty years later from the memory of a young girl, listening to elderly women describe something that had happened thirty years before.

Without apparent corroboration from Eliza herself or other sources, this source on its own might be worthy of dismissal. Audience attendees, as well as online commenters, have sought clarification on this point. And justifiably so. Here are some of my thoughts, lettered a through f:.

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What I? Further, Derr had at times discussed Eliza? What made my presentation unique from Derr? Further, Derr has argued that Eliza? Not a smoking gun, but certainly contextually significant. I discuss some of these poems and interpretive frameworks in my paper.

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Horne gives no indication at all that she didn? In fact, later in the document, Horne describes in detail her personal relationship to Eliza R. Snow, as a mentor and friend and Relief Society leader. By virtue of being the granddaughter of one of Snow? I consider it unlikely that Horne would have reported an account of this severity without some kind of prior communication and verification from Eliza herself. The source comes from Alice Merrill Horne, not some easily discounted anonymous or outside observer. In other words, she was no yahoo. Horne was well-respected, educated, influential, widely published, and connected to the highest circles of church leadership.

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By virtue of her reputation and her social and religious credentials, it is difficult to dismiss the source outright as the ramblings of an unknown, a fame-seeker, or a gossip. Snow, but to describe how she overcame great trial and struggle to become the spiritual, political, and artistic leader that she was. Horne viewed Eliza?

Given that construction, what possible other motives could she have in describing it as she did? As a private autobiography that went unpublished, she did not receive money or fame for the disclosure. But she apparently intended it, in part, as an instructive lesson for her descendants or the larger membership of the Church, on how an important Mormon leader and the most famous Mormon woman was able to overcome a violent crime and still make a successful life.

The importance of? Memory is tricky, especially when disseminated through families, it becomes like a game of telephone, with details and interpretation changing with each telling. I can? And yet, I heard the story so often that I knew it completely changed the trajectory of my grandmother? So much, that the stories of two step-mothers, some child abuse, and the young children shuttered from home to home during the Great Depression were often the subject of dinnertime conversations and family gatherings well until my grandmother?

And at some time in my young life, I remember hearing my grandmother? She went into her parents? Bee, I need you to go get your daddy.?

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My great-grandmother died that day. If I ever write my family history, I will include a tragic moment witnessed and remembered only by an eight-year-old girl in , without corroboration, shared with a granddaughter in the s, and written down here in Similarly, Horne? Were there more? The various accounts of gang rapes from the Missouri period list many different numbers. If readers are still not convinced of the authenticity of this source, I readily invite those concerns in the comments here.

But, as a preview, I offer the hopefully future publication of my research, which will include at least one corroborating source on Eliza that has been given to me in the last few days. I am eager to explore other primary accounts of the Missouri violence as Mormon women experienced it. Further, I am keen to consider what a rape account might look like, if passed down through family memory. I think it would look exactly like this one.

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Eliza and Emma and the infamous stairs story. This story is persistent and tenacious. It boils down to whether Eliza? The stairs story has largely been discounted by many historians, including Richard Bushman, Linda King Newell, Valeen Tippetts Avery, and Derr herself, as apocryphal, as motivated by anti-Emma sentiments in the s, and as a way of sensationalizing the Nauvoo polygamy experience. No one knows why Eliza R. Snow couldn? She was 34 years old when she experienced the Missouri violence, and 38 when she married Joseph Smith, and 41 when she married Brigham Young.

Her age might have precluded being able to conceive as easily had she been in her twenties. But, without the obstetric knowledge that might have diagnosed some kind of trauma to her reproductive organs, or some other condition unrelated to age or rape, it is highly improbable for historians to give her a posthumous diagnosis. But, if the Horne account is accurate, it appears that Eliza herself considered the Missouri rape to be the cause of her infertility.

Does that mean the rape was so violent that her internal organs were damaged? Does it mean that she was unable to have intercourse at all, either from emotional or physical trauma?