Tag Archives: B. H. Roberts

The Mormon Battalion vs. the stray dogs of L.A.

Things I have learned from reading pioneer James S. Brown’s autobiography: the Mormon Battalion executed a military order to exterminate the stray dogs of Los Angeles. Brown recounts:

Another event about this period was an order by Colonel Cooke for a detail of good marksmen and trusty men to go through the town and shoot or bayonet all the dogs to be found in the streets. The colonel had notified the town authorities of his intention. Accordingly the detail was made and ammunition issued. The writer was one of the trusted marksmen. We sallied forth in the town of Los Angeles, where the dogs were more numerous than human beings, and commenced our disagreeable and deadly work. Muskets rattled in every street and byway, dogs barked and howled in every direction, and women and children wept to have the animals spared. But military orders had to be obeyed, for the dog nuisance had become intolerable. After that, there were sanitary orders sent forth, and the streets were cleared of the dogs and a great amount of bones and other rubbish.

I will admit that after my mission experiences with stray dogs, I read this with some enthusiasm. But the Battalion’s exploits against animals don’t stop there; they also fought a battle with a herd of wild cattle, with casualties of one mule for the Battalion and 20-25 for the cattle:

In a very brief space of time we found ourselves plunged into a warm climate, where we could not see any plant or shrub that we had been acquainted with before. There was some small, scrubby ash, sycamore and black walnut, but everything, even to the rocks, had a strange appearance. We also had entered the land of wild horses and cattle, which roamed the hills by thousands. The wild cattle became excited at the rumbling wagons, and gathered thickly along our way.

At last the muskets commenced to rattle, partly through fear, and partly because we wanted beef. Finally a herd of wild cattle charged our line, tossed some men into the air, pierced others with their horns, knocking some down, and ran over others, attacking one light wagon, the hind end of which was lifted clear from the road. One large bull plunged into a six-mule team, ran his head under the off-swing mule, throwing him entirely over the near one and thrusting his horn into the mule’s vitals, injuring our animal so it had to be left on the ground, where it expired in a few minutes. There were several men and mules roughly used and bruised, just the number I do not now recall. The attacking party lost twenty or twenty-five of their number killed, with many others badly or slightly wounded.

B. H. Roberts also recounts the battle with the cattle in his book The Mormon Battalion. And of course all this helped fulfill a prophecy from Brigham Young (quoting Brown, emphasis added):

…the words of President Brigham Young, in his farewell address to the battalion, in which he said: “You are now going into an enemy’s land at your country’s call. If you will live your religion, obey and respect your officers, and hold sacred the property of the people among whom you travel, and never take anything but what you pay for, I promise you in the name of Israel’s God that not one of you shall fall by the hand of an enemy. Though there will be battles fought in your front and in your rear, on your right hand and on your left, you will not have any fighting to do except with wild beasts.”

This is good stuff, guys. Read the book.

Now releasing…all the pamphlets!

Not quite all the pamphlets, but Scrap Book of Mormon Literature vol. 2, now on PG, contains an embarrassment of riches. It includes about 45 selections from authors including:

  • Brigham Young
  • Joseph Fielding Smith
  • Heber J. Grant
  • B. H. Roberts
  • Parley P. Pratt
  • George Q. Cannon
  • Orson Pratt
  • Orson Hyde
  • Orson F. Whitney

Obviously that’s a pretty good cross section from the first century of Church writing, thanks to mission president and compiler Ben E. Rich. He included materials originally published everywhere from the Liverpool to Japan.

And if you’re wondering…you didn’t miss the release of volume 1; it’s just still in progress. Stay tuned. Fortunately the volumes work independently of each other.

New Release: “Sinners and Saints,” an outside look at 1882 Utah

Phil Robinson’s Sinners and Saints: A Tour Across the States, and Round Them, with Three Months among the Mormons is now available on Project Gutenberg. Robinson, a travel correspondent, spent time in Utah in 1882 and later published his impressions, including an account of a General Conference; comments on communities including Salt Lake City, Logan, Provo, and Orderville; and discussions of Indian relations, polygamy, and even “their sobriety (to my great inconvenience).”

This book was brought to my attention by B. H. Roberts, who quotes it in The Life of John Taylor and comments that  “Mr. Robinson is one of the few writers who have endeavored to tell the truth about the Mormons.” Much of the literature on the Mormon pre-statehood Utah experience, whether “for” or “against” the Church, is polemical. As a more-or-less disinterested observer, accepted as honest by a Mormon authority while being published by and for the world at large, Robinson provides a primary source from an uncommon perspective. Hopefully readers will find it valuable.

As always, thanks to all those who proofread and made this work available!

Triple New Release: B. H. Roberts and Joseph Fielding Smith (& Project Update!)

Well folks, it’s been a while, but we’ve got some good stuff for you.

Releases

The second volume of B. H. Roberts’ Defense of the Faith and the Saints is now available on Project Gutenberg. (See also vol. 1 here.) These together constitute a scrapbook of Roberts’ writing compiled from various national publications.

Roberts’ Outlines of Ecclesiastical History has also been posted. This work discusses the ancient church, the apostasy, the reformation, and the restoration of the gospel, while explicitly aiming to teach the principles of the gospel in the same treatment.

Finally, Salvation Universala pamphlet on salvation for the dead by Joseph Fielding Smith, is up. Remarkably, Smith, who was President of the Church 1970-1972, published this work in 1920 and had already been an Apostle for 10 years at that time.

Project Update

With that, a word of explanation is in order for the recent lag in releases. Since taking over the Mormon Texts Project, I have been blessed in many ways, including with a son, a house, admission to a part-time MBA program, a call to serve as ward clerk, and so on. Naturally, my time available for MTP is not what it once was. With this in mind, I’ve been cutting back on new project starts and focusing on completing our existing backlog of ~25 in-progress books.

I’m trying to prioritize completion of the backlog in a way that respects volunteers’ work (in some cases at the expense of our research assistants’ work and secondary intern projects), but if you’re wondering where your book you once worked on ended up, get in touch and I’ll see what I can do to hurry it along.

At this point, the project’s proofreading needs center on those few brave souls who are willing to tackle lengthier works and be extremely patient about final posting schedules. My greatest need is actually for help with post-production tasks (currently a bottleneck) including HTML generation and mildly technical text quality checks, so anyone skilled in such things is invited to get in touch.

In sum, don’t expect a terrific pace of new releases in 2017, but we do hope to keep pecking away at the backlog every so often.

Key Free Doctrinal Works: A Reading List from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism

I recently stumbled on the Encyclopedia of Mormonism’s list of books that “have made significant contributions to the understanding of doctrine.” It’s an interesting reading list–if you want a thorough grounding in Mormon doctrine through the ages, these are the books–and naturally it lines up well with what people have chosen to get up on Project Gutenberg.

Here’s the pre-1923 (i.e. out of copyright) portion of that list, with links to PG for the works we’ve completed:

Read these books!

More B. H. Roberts–“The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo” Released

Much of Latter-day Saint History is unintentionally overlooked by the members of the church, often including the Mormon golden era that existed in Nauvoo. B. H. Roberts goes into deep detail about the establishment, flourishing, and fall of Nauvoo in his book The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo, now available on Project Gutenberg. He touches on events that are rarely addressed within the LDS church; describes the political situation at the time, showing why Joseph Smith decided to run for President of the United States; and goes into detail about new doctrines that were revealed in Nauvoo, which are found both within and outside of the Doctrine and Covenants. This book will help anyone more fully understand the splendor of Nauvoo, as well as help put LDS doctrines into perspective.

As this is a religious work, it bears testimony of Joseph Smith’s calling as prophet, seer, revelator, and restorer of Jesus Christ’s true church on the earth. It also bears witness of Christ’s gospel and how it has blessed the lives of thousands in the midst of great trials and sacrifice. Even a casual reading of this book will help strengthen the reader’s testimony of these things and bolster their faith to live up to the high standard laid before them by their religious predecessors.

Thanks to Steven Fluckiger, one of our 2015 interns, for proofreading and producing The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo, as well as contributing to this blog post.

New Release: B. H. Roberts’ “The Missouri Persecutions”

Once upon a time, books had prefaces where the author just said what the book was about and why they wrote it. In that simpler age, B. H. Roberts explained The Missouri Persecutions (now free on PG) as follows:

My chief purpose in publishing this book, and the one which will immediately follow—”The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo”—is to place in the hands of the youth of the Latter-day Saints a full statement of the persecutions endured by the early members of The Church in this last dispensation, in the States of Missouri and Illinois, that they may be made acquainted with the sacrifices which their fathers have made for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. And I indulge the hope that by becoming acquainted with the story of the suffering of the early saints, the faith of the Gospel will become all the more dear to the hearts of their immediate posterity and all the youth of Zion for many generations to come.

I think without depreciating at all any other narrative of these events in our Church literature, I may claim that the story of the Missouri Persecutions in these pages is told more thoroughly than in any other of our present publications. This arises from the fact that this book deals with but a brief period in the history of The Church—from 1830 to 1838—and therefore admits of such a consideration of details as could not possibly be given to that period in any general history of The Church. This detailed treatment of the subject, in the opinion of the author, is justified because of the very important events which the treatise covers, and also for the reason that it is a period of our history which has been very much misrepresented, upon which misrepresentations false accusations are made against The Church and its leaders to this day. Those who have thought themselves called upon to oppose, if not to persecute, The Church in later years, frequently attempt to justify their present opposition by insinuating that The Church was driven from Missouri and Illinois for other reasons than adherence to an unpopular religion. The impression is sought to be created that it was for some overt acts against the State or National government, or for some offense against the spirit of American institutions, or because The Church leaders “were determined to be a law unto themselves,” in disregard of the rights of others.

It is, in part, to correct these false statements, and guard our youth against the influence of such calumnious insinuations, that I tell this story of the Missouri Persecutions; not that the history in these pages is written for the purpose of glozing over the defects in the character of the early members of The Church, or to claim for them absolute freedom from errors in judgment, or actual sinfulness in conduct. I have not written what may be called “argumentative history,” only so far as a statement of the truth may be considered an argument. After these pages are read I feel sure that no one will be able to accuse me of failing to point out the errors of the early members of The Church; indeed, I have been careful to call attention to the complaints which the Lord made against their conduct; the reproofs of his inspired servants; and the repeated warnings sent to them by the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the results of their conduct if there was not a speedy repentance.

[…]

So there you go. That brings the number of B. H. Roberts books on Project Gutenberg to 13, with several more in the pipeline. (It also adds one more to the number of book release announcements where I’ve just used the author’s preface, but hopefully no one’s keeping score on that.)

Thanks to past MTP intern Allie Bowen for proofreading and producing The Missouri Persecutions.