Essential Narratives of the Mountain Meadows Massacre
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: The Arthur H. Clark Company
516 Pages | 6 x 9 | 31 b&w illus., 5 maps
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.