Two Historians Probe the Utah War
and the Mountain Meadows Tragedy:
Discoveries and Surprises Along the Way
DATE: October 20 (Fullerton) and October 21 (La Canada – Flintridge).
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
We are pleased to announce that two eminent historians, Richard E. Turley Jr. and William P. MacKinnon, will be our October presenters.
Rick Turley was formerly Assistant Church Historian and is currently managing director of the Public Affairs Department of the Church. Bill MacKinnon is an independent, award winning historian of the American West, who was recently president of the Mormon History Association. They will share new insights from their research on the Utah War and the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
THE TOPIC: Over the decades, Richard Turley and William MacKinnon have researched and written extensively about Utah’s long, contentious territorial period. They approach the subject from quite different religious, educational, military, professional, geographical, and even generational backgrounds. Despite (or perhaps because of) such differences, these two historians are close personal friends and respectful colleagues, whose work has been enriched by the informal and stimulating exchange of discoveries and ideas over more than twenty years. Rick and Bill have often shared a platform to discuss their findings and to learn from audiences in such varied settings as the LDS stake center in Norman, Oklahoma and annual conferences of the Mormon History Association in many parts of the country. They now look forward to meeting again with members of the Miller Eccles Study Group and continuing this dialogue in Southern California.
During the October 20 and 21 sessions, Rick and Bill will share vignettes about the ways in which their views of the Utah War and its principal atrocity, the Mountain Meadows massacre, have changed since they began their examination of these inter-related subjects in the late 1990s and 1950s, respectively, and the surprises they (and their readers) have encountered along the way. Many of these stories are rooted in the discoveries associated with MacKinnon’s two-volume At Sword’s Point: A Documentary History of the Utah War and Turley’s collaboration with Glen Leonard and the late Ron Walker on Massacre at Mountain Meadows. However, much of what Rick and Bill will share also flows from their subsequent work on these subjects — some of it as-yet unpublished — and will be discussed publicly for the first time at these meetings. The intent and format of the sessions will enable maximum opportunity for audience questions and interactions, so attendees are urged to come to Fullerton and La Canada Flintridge with any queries for which they have been seeking answers.
THE SPEAKERS: Richard E. Turley Jr. was named as the new managing director of the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 26, 2016. Prior to his appointment, he served for eight years as Assistant Church Historian and Recorder. He also served for eight years as managing director of the Family and Church History Department.
Turley received a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University, where he was a Spencer W. Kimball Scholar. He later graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, where he served as executive editor of the law review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. He also received the Hugh B. Brown Barrister’s Award, presented each year to the graduating student who demonstrates the highest standards of classroom performance.
He is a member of the editorial board for The Joseph Smith Papers and general editor of The Journals of George Q. Cannon series. His book Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992) is an oft-cited history of the famous Hofmann forgery-murder case of the 1980s. Along with Ronald W. Walker and Glen M. Leonard, he authored Massacre at Mountain Meadows, was published in 2008 by Oxford University Press.
William P. (Bill) MacKinnon is an independent historian residing in Montecito, California, who returns for his second presentation for the Miller Eccles Study Group. Since 1963 he has published articles, essays, and book chapters about Utah’s long, often-contentious territorial period in more than thirty historical journals and monographs. In 2008 and 2016, the University of Oklahoma Press’ Arthur H. Clark imprint published his two-volume documentary History of the Utah War of 1857-1859, At Sword’s Point. The Utah State Historical Society recognized each of these volumes as the year’s best documentary history, as have other scholarly organizations.
MacKinnon is a former president of the Mormon History Association, chairman of the Yale Library Associates, sheriff (presiding officer) of the Santa Barbara Corral of the Westerners, chairman of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and vice president of General Motors Corporation. He is currently a fellow and honorary life member of the Utah State Historical Society and president of MacKinnon Associates, a management consulting firm. MacKinnon is an alumnus of Yale College (B.A. Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa) and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration (M.B.A.), and a veteran of the United States Air Force.
Posted by: Scott Volmar