Reviews by Calvin Wood

Under the Prophet in Utah

by Frank J. Cannon

Frank Cannon shows himself to be an articulate and sympathetic insider. A man of integrity who describes the workings of the Mormon Church and its hold upon its members with accuracy and genuine understanding. He worked for years to bring about Utah statehood (in the process securing the vote for Mormons against congressional attempts to disenfranchise them) and national compassion towards Mormon men who had entered into the marital state with plurality of wives. The Church made promises that it would no longer practice polygamy and would withdraw from exercising political influence. These promises were accepted in Washington, largely because of the integrity of Mr. Cannon, who served as emissary of the Church to Washington and then served as a Senator from Utah. Mr. Cannon met with congressional leaders and with President Cleveland, convincing them that the good will of folks in Utah would help put an end to the "Mormon Problem."

When the newer hierarchy of Mormonism came to power under Joseph F. Smith (nephew of LDS founder Joseph Smith), those promises were shockingly betrayed according to Mr. Cannon. As to Polygamy, I am personally aware that my father's uncle married his wife's younger sister in 1903 and retained his high positions in the Church, as did many other men, which practices continued for about 15 years after the Church's promise to end the practice in 1890. The prophet, Mr. Smith, gave perjured testimony before Congress and sent an apostle of the Church (Mr. Reed Smoot) to the Senate in direct violation of the promise that the Church would exit the political arena. Mr Cannon's exposition is detailed, accurate, and largely dispassionate, although he was excommunicated from the LDS Church because he continued publicly to point out the failure of Church leadership to live up to its promises. He does show that a man of integrity can suffer mightily when his sense of honor puts him in opposition to a powerful and vindictive enemy.

A must read for all who want to understand more about certain powerful forces within the Mormon Church that desire to establish the Kingdom of God on earth with all the political power of the United States under its control. You will have to go elsewhere to get insight into the doctrines and religious practices of the Church, but this part of its political history is most interesting and well presented in this book.

Reviewed on 2009.02.28

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