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Bagley Slanders B. Young = Lots of Attention / Bagley's Slander Proven Bogus and Dishonest = No Attention


smac97

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A recent thread on this board discussed a series of 19th-century documents about Mormonism that were recently sold at auction.

Here's a blurb from a SL Tribune article about this item:

Historian Will Bagley, who wrote Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, said two letters acquired by the church buttress his contention that Young was complicit in the southern Utah massacre of Arkansas immigrants in September 1857.

The letter written by an assistant surgeon at Camp Floyd, Bagley said, indicates that even before the Army or tribal agents went to southern Utah to investigate, Mormons were telling soldiers about the massacre.

In a six-page March 1859 letter to a doctor in Maryland, assistant surgeon Charles Brewer wrote of the massacre as "murders too horrible to be told & perpetrated by the authority of the church."

Upon further examination, these letters do not seem to include any new evidence implicating Brigham Young in the Mountain Meadows Massacre (see here for a more detailed analysis of these letters).

In other words, there is no "there" there. Bagley's claim that these newly-discovered letters "buttress" his accusations against Brigham Young is, therefore, incorrect.

Furthermore, this isn't the first time Bagley has claimed to have found "new" evidence implicating Brigham Young. In 2003, Robert D. Crockett reviewed Bagley's Blood of the Prophets and scrutinized Bagley's claim of "'troubling new evidence' to prove that President Brigham Young and Apostle George A. Smith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were accessories before the fact to commit the massacre."

Crocket continues:

Bagley's "troubling new evidence," which separates his work from Brooks's, is simply a diary entry, dated 1 September 1857, in which Indian interpreter Dimick Huntington describes a meeting purportedly held between himself, Brigham Young, and twelve Indian chiefs:

Kanosh the Pahvant Chief[,] Ammon & wife (Walkers Brother) & 11 Pahvants came into see B & D & find out about the soldiers. Tutseygubbit a Piede chief over 6 Piedes Bands Youngwuols another Piede chief & I gave them all the cattle that had gone to Cal[.] the southa rout[.] it made them open their eyes[.] they sayed that you have told us not to steal[.] so I have but now they have come to fight us & you for when they kill us then they will kill you[.] they sayed the[y] was afraid to fight the Americans & so would raise grain & we might fight.9 (cf. p. 114)

For Bagley this cryptic entry proves that "the atrocity was not a tragedy but a premeditated criminal act initiated in Great Salt Lake City" (p. 378). Blood of the Prophets tells us that "if any court in the American West (excepting, of course, one of Utah's probate courts) had seen the evidence [the Dimick Huntington diary] contained, the only debate among the jurors would have been when, where, and how high to hang Brigham Young" (p. 425 n. 42).

In footnote 9, Crocket observes: "Bagley interpolates 'allies' where 'grain' should be used. I think Bagley's conclusion is wrong. See Lawrence Coates, review of Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by Will Bagley, BYU Studies 42/1 (2003): 153."

Coates' review (available here) leaves Bagley little room to argue that interpolating "allies" for "grain" was just justified or a whoopsy-daisy:

Serious errors in historical scholarship, however, severely undermine the fundamental arguments in his book. First, there are several important primary sources that he did not use accurately. Historians must verify the facts they use and avoid misusing information to support their interpretations. Bagley fails on both counts, because he seems to be driven by his passion to blame Brigham Young for this tragic event. For example, Bagley sees Young's offer to give the Piedes, a band of the Paiutes, "all the cattle that had gone to Cal[ifornia] the south rout" as the formation of an alliance (114). To make this point, Bagley quotes D. B. Huntington, Brigham Young's interpreter, as saying that the Piedes were "afraid to fight the americans & so would raise [allies]" (114). Instead, Huntington's journal for September 1 1857 says the Piedes "would raise grai"1 (fig. 1). Replacing the word "grain" with "allies" substantially changes the meaning, but most readers will not be aware of Bagley s changing these words.

According to Bagley, this entry (read with "allies" interpolated into it) proves that "the atrocity was not a tragedy but a premeditated criminal act initiated in Great Salt Lake City" (p. 378), and that "if any court in the American West (excepting, of course, one of Utah's probate courts) had seen the evidence [the Dimick Huntington diary] contained, the only debate among the jurors would have been when, where, and how high to hang Brigham Young" (p. 425 n. 42). Bagley goes on to argue that these Indian chiefs then traveled from the meeting (in Salt Lake City) to Cedar City and participated in the massacre.

Bagley's critics have made three basic arguments against Bagley's thesis:

A. Bagley Interpolated "Allies" for "Grain" When Quoting Huntington's Journal. Coates notes that "[in] the context of the rest of the entry grain makes sense: the Piedes would raise grain rather than take the cattle." But Bagley's interpolation, read without context, suggests that the Indians wanted to on the warpath (that they wanted to "raise allies").

B. The Timing of the Meeting Made it Unlikely or Impossible for the Indians who Participated in the Meeting to Have Been Present for the Massacre. Crocket observed that "Bagley's chronology is problematic to the point of impossibility. Tutsegabit and Youngwuds did not have time to get from Salt Lake City to Mountain Meadows and return to Salt Lake City by 16 September 1857 or, as Huntington says, by 10 September 1857."

C. The Meeting was a Discussion About the Indians Going After the Army's cattle, not the Fancher Party's cattle. (See Crocket's review for a detailed explanation).

As to the first point above (interpolating "allies" for "grain"), there seems to be no legitimate dispute that Bagley was flat-out wrong. Here's a graphic of Huntington's journal (the word "grain" is at the end of the second-to-the-last sentence on the page):

l_ee56cf8e6c58ba66d691e7819e12119a.jpg

Moreover, even Bagley appears to have backtracked on his interpolation. BOTP was first published in 2002. It was reviewed by Crocket and Coates in 2003. It was published in paperback in 2004. What is interesting, however, is that the 2004 edition "interpolates" the word "grain" instead of "allies." The interpolation is odd because

A) the reader is apparently given no indication that the text of the book has been altered from the original edition,

B) interpolating "grain" is unnecessary because that word is actually in the text of Huntington's journal, and

C) Bagley "corrected" the faulty interpolation, but left his conclusions - that Huntington's journal was evidence of Brigham Young's complicity in the massacre - intact.

The version of BOTP currently on Amazon is searchable using Amason's "Look Inside!" feature. As presently published, page 114 of BOTP no longer carries the interpolation of "allies," and instead quotes Huntington's journal as talking about "grain." However, on page 378, Bagley discusses - and deems incorrect - Juanita Brooks' analysis of the massacre ("that unfortunate circumstance played a part in the fate of the emigrants"). Bagley states:

Brooks never saw Dimick Huntington's journal and its evidence that the atrocity was not a tragedy but a premeditated criminal act initiated in Great Salt Lake City. Although she lacked the documentation presented here that links Brigham Young to facilitating the murders...

In sum:

1. Bagley committed historical malpractice by "rigging" the evidence. He interpolated "allies" for "grain" in an attempt to implicate Brigham Young.

2. Bagley presented this dishonest interpolation as "troubling new evidence," that this "evidence" showed that the massacre "was not a tragedy but a premeditated criminal act initiated in Great Salt Lake City," and that this evidence "links Brigham Young to facilitating the murders."

3. Crocket and Coates caught on to Bagley's dishonest interpolation.

4. Bagley, apparently without admitting or acknowledging his having been caught in rigging the evidence, tweaked the most recent published form of Blood of the Prophets to take out the interpolation of "allies" and replace it with the word that actually appeared in the text ("grain").

5. However, even though Bagley has technically and quietly retracted his dishonest interpolation, he has left intact the conclusions he drew from that dishonest interpolation (that it is "troubling new evidence," that this "evidence" showed that the massacre "was not a tragedy but a premeditated criminal act initiated in Great Salt Lake City," and that this evidence "links Brigham Young to facilitating the murders").

6. As recently as 2007, Bagley has maintained his specious usage of Huntington's journal. Check out this excerpt from a "2007 update" from Bagley:

In 1991 I had transcribed the diary of his Indian interpreter and brother-in-law, Dmick Huntington, at the Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, or the Mormons). Its contents demonstrated that the depth of Young
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7. Bagley's dishonest history has been utterly discredited, and yet there is no corollary "splash" in notoriety. Bagley continues to peddle his dishonest use of historical sources. (He even

, that craptastic bit of fiction that turned out to be one of the worst movies ever.)

I am frustrated by that.

-Smac

Well,

The purveyors of poppycock are hardly likely to bring to attention that which makes them appear obtuse. It is neither on the agenda to make Mormondom or the Church look good or vindicated. So one ought not to be surprised that kindness and benevolence fails to overcome these heralds of harangue.

(I'm feeling like alliteration tonight)

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As I noted on the other thread, Will Bagley is not a historian. Will Bagley is a second-rate propagandist with a transparent agenda. Any notoriety he has achieved is attributable solely to the ever-reliable and indiscriminate audience of willing anti-Mormon suckers, like Kristen Moulton, who has never come across an anti-Mormon story she couldn't infuse with a modicum of credibility.

Bagley's ridiculous propagandizing aside, I do believe (from what I have seen of them so far) that this collection of documents will add some very revealing perspectives to our understanding of conditions in antebellum Utah.

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A recent thread on this board discussed a series of 19th-century documents about Mormonism that were recently sold at auction.

Here's a blurb from a SL Tribune article about this item:

Upon further examination, these letters do not seem to include any new evidence implicating Brigham Young in the Mountain Meadows Massacre (see here for a more detailed analysis of these letters).

In other words, there is no "there" there. Bagley's claim that these newly-discovered letters "buttress" his accusations against Brigham Young is, therefore, incorrect.

Furthermore, this isn't the first time Bagley has claimed to have found "new" evidence implicating Brigham Young. In 2003, Robert D. Crockett reviewed Bagley's Blood of the Prophets and scrutinized Bagley's claim of "'troubling new evidence' to prove that President Brigham Young and Apostle George A. Smith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were accessories before the fact to commit the massacre."

Crocket continues:

In footnote 9, Crocket observes: "Bagley interpolates 'allies' where 'grain' should be used. I think Bagley's conclusion is wrong. See Lawrence Coates, review of Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by Will Bagley, BYU Studies 42/1 (2003): 153."

Coates' review (available here) leaves Bagley little room to argue that interpolating "allies" for "grain" was just justified or a whoopsy-daisy:

According to Bagley, this entry (read with "allies" interpolated into it) proves that "the atrocity was not a tragedy but a premeditated criminal act initiated in Great Salt Lake City" (p. 378), and that "if any court in the American West (excepting, of course, one of Utah's probate courts) had seen the evidence [the Dimick Huntington diary] contained, the only debate among the jurors would have been when, where, and how high to hang Brigham Young" (p. 425 n. 42). Bagley goes on to argue that these Indian chiefs then traveled from the meeting (in Salt Lake City) to Cedar City and participated in the massacre.

Bagley's critics have made three basic arguments against Bagley's thesis:

A. Bagley Interpolated "Allies" for "Grain" When Quoting Huntington's Journal. Coates notes that "[in] the context of the rest of the entry grain makes sense: the Piedes would raise grain rather than take the cattle." But Bagley's interpolation, read without context, suggests that the Indians wanted to on the warpath (that they wanted to "raise allies").

B. The Timing of the Meeting Made it Unlikely or Impossible for the Indians who Participated in the Meeting to Have Been Present for the Massacre. Crocket observed that "Bagley's chronology is problematic to the point of impossibility. Tutsegabit and Youngwuds did not have time to get from Salt Lake City to Mountain Meadows and return to Salt Lake City by 16 September 1857 or, as Huntington says, by 10 September 1857."

C. The Meeting was a Discussion About the Indians Going After the Army's cattle, not the Fancher Party's cattle. (See Crocket's review for a detailed explanation).

As to the first point above (interpolating "allies" for "grain"), there seems to be no legitimate dispute that Bagley was flat-out wrong. Here's a graphic of Huntington's journal (the word "grain" is at the end of the second-to-the-last sentence on the page):

l_ee56cf8e6c58ba66d691e7819e12119a.jpg

Moreover, even Bagley appears to have backtracked on his interpolation. BOTP was first published in 2002. It was reviewed by Crocket and Coates in 2003. It was published in paperback in 2004. What is interesting, however, is that the 2004 edition "interpolates" the word "grain" instead of "allies." The interpolation is odd because

A) the reader is apparently given no indication that the text of the book has been altered from the original edition,

B) interpolating "grain" is unnecessary because that word is actually in the text of Huntington's journal, and

C) Bagley "corrected" the faulty interpolation, but left his conclusions - that Huntington's journal was evidence of Brigham Young's complicity in the massacre - intact.

The version of BOTP currently on Amazon is searchable using Amason's "Look Inside!" feature. As presently published, page 114 of BOTP no longer carries the interpolation of "allies," and instead quotes Huntington's journal as talking about "grain." However, on page 378, Bagley discusses - and deems incorrect - Juanita Brooks' analysis of the massacre ("that unfortunate circumstance played a part in the fate of the emigrants"). Bagley states:

In sum:

1. Bagley committed historical malpractice by "rigging" the evidence. He interpolated "allies" for "grain" in an attempt to implicate Brigham Young.

2. Bagley presented this dishonest interpolation as "troubling new evidence," that this "evidence" showed that the massacre "was not a tragedy but a premeditated criminal act initiated in Great Salt Lake City," and that this evidence "links Brigham Young to facilitating the murders."

3. Crocket and Coates caught on to Bagley's dishonest interpolation.

4. Bagley, apparently without admitting or acknowledging his having been caught in rigging the evidence, tweaked the most recent published form of Blood of the Prophets to take out the interpolation of "allies" and replace it with the word that actually appeared in the text ("grain").

5. However, even though Bagley has technically and quietly retracted his dishonest interpolation, he has left intact the conclusions he drew from that dishonest interpolation (that it is "troubling new evidence," that this "evidence" showed that the massacre "was not a tragedy but a premeditated criminal act initiated in Great Salt Lake City," and that this evidence "links Brigham Young to facilitating the murders").

6. As recently as 2007, Bagley has maintained his specious usage of Huntington's journal. Check out this excerpt from a "2007 update" from Bagley:

So even though he has "corrected" the supposedly damning excerpt from Huntington's journal in the most recent (apparently 2004) version of BOTP, as of 2007 he is still peddling his original claim - that Huntington's journal implicates Brigham Young.

6. Blood of the Prophets made quite a splash when it was first published. Salacious claims of "troubling new evidence" implicating Brigham Young in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. See, for example, this blurb:

The Institute for Religious Research currently has a lengthy article about BOTP in which the damning - and dishonest and inaccurate - quote from Huntington's journal is quoted. This same article is also posted - ironically enough - on the website of "Truth and Grace Ministries."

7. Bagley's dishonest history has been utterly discredited, and yet there is no corollary "splash" in notoriety. Bagley continues to peddle his dishonest use of historical sources. (He even

, that craptastic bit of fiction that turned out to be one of the worst movies ever.)

I am frustrated by that.

-Smac

I just need to correct you on one thing. Many people have got a lot of mileage out of the "allies" and "grains" issue, but really they have made a mountain out of a mole hill. For one, it wasn't a purposeful "rigging" of the text, it was an honest mistake in getting the word wrong. Anyone that has spent time looking at old manuscripts on microfilm can see how this can happen. Furthermore the word "allies" originally appeared in brackets, "[allies]", this does indicate the word was inserted. Now he does deserve criticism for not explaining the bracketed word in a footnote. But you are simply wrong that he maliciously rigged the word. How do I know this? I asked him. Now I know in the Mormon apologetic world it is easy to label people as anti-Mormon and therefore they are liars. But remember, Bagley is not small potatoes, his book won many western history awards. Common sense can tell you there is no way he would have purposely done it knowing he'd be caught.

Next item that demonstrates the silliness of harping on this. I was not aware it was changed in the soft cover version, but you note nothing changes in his interpretation of it even though he changed the word to grains. That is because that was never the point of the document in the first place. It always puzzled me why so many intelligent historians harped on this when it was so easy to see that it didn't matter if the word was allies or grains in the context that Bagley was using the passage. There were so many other things to criticize Bagley on how he was using this passage, but so many people got caught up in thinking they had busted Bagley in a document manipulation. It should be noted that Bagley has since stated that he made too much of the September 1 meeting, which I thought was obvious. But it is time for certain people to criticize his overall argument and not get so caught up over the issue of "allies" versus "grains."

I am also curious if those that spew their hatred toward Bagley and think he purposefully falsified a historical document would say the same about how the Church has falsified documents and people like Joseph Fielding Smith have falsified history and likely know exactly what they are doing.

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I just need to correct you on one thing. Many people have got a lot of mileage out of the "allies" and "grains" issue, but really they have made a mountain out of a mole hill.

It seems that Will Bagley was the one with the spade. He made the mountain out of a mole hill.

For one, it wasn't a purposeful "rigging" of the text, it was an honest mistake in getting the word wrong.

Can I ask how you know this?

And even if we assume it was a transcriptional error, that does not explain Bagley's retention of the conclusions that he drew from that error.

He is still saying that Huntington's journal implicates Brigham Young.

He is still saying that Brooks' treatment was incomplete and incorrect because she did not have access to Huntington's journal and its supposedly "troubling new evidence."

He is still maintaining his original thesis (that Huntington's journal implicates Brigham Young), and is now saying that the auctioned letters "buttress" that thesis. And he says all this even though none of the historical documentation in view (Huntington's journal and the recently-auctioned letters) does any such thing.

Anyone that has spent time looking at old manuscripts on microfilm can see how this can happen. Furthermore the word "allies" originally appeared in brackets, "[allies]", this does indicate the word was inserted.

And since this interpolated word was central to his claim of having discovered "troubling new evidence" against Brigham Young, you would think he would have double-checked his source prior to making an idiot out of himself.

And has Bagley fessed up to this error? Nope. He secretly revised BOTP, but has then proceeded as if the original error and its implications mean something.

Sorry, but I'm not willing to chalk this up to an innocent excuse. Not when Bagley hasn't fessed up, nor revised his thesis.

Now he does deserve criticism for not explaining the bracketed word in a footnote.

He also deserves criticism for not double-checking his source (given that this source was the lynchpin of his supposedly "troubling new evidence" implicating Brigham Young in a massacre).

He also deserves criticism for not publicly owning up to the error.

He also deserves criticism for quietly revising BOTP without informing his readers of the change.

He also deserves criticism for revising BOTP to correct his "error," but then continuing to condemn Brigham Young as if his "error" was factually correct.

He also deserves criticism for not taking his "error" into account when explaining his thesis.

He also deserves criticism for claiming that these recently-auctioned letters "buttress" his BOTP thesis when they don't (making the second time Bagley has publicly and grossly misrepresented the content and significance of historical sources).

But you are simply wrong that he maliciously rigged the word. How do I know this? I asked him.

Has he publicly admitted this?

Now I know in the Mormon apologetic world it is easy to label people as anti-Mormon and therefore they are liars. But remember, Bagley is not small potatoes, his book won many western history awards. Common sense can tell you there is no way he would have purposely done it knowing he'd be caught.

Well, no. Prominent historians have previously been caught flagrantly misrepresenting historical resources. For example:

Arming America, The Origins of a National Gun Culture is a controversial book written by former Emory University professor of history Dr. Michael A. Bellesiles and released in September of 2000 by Alfred A. Knopf. The book was an expansion of an article written by Bellesiles in 1996, and published in the Journal of American History, which was awarded "Best Article of the Year" by the Organization of American Historians (OAH). The central theme of the book is that guns were uncommon during peacetime in early America; that they were of little use and that the more widespread use and ownership of guns dates from the time of the Civil War and is the result of advances in manufacturing with the consequent reduction in price and improvement in quality and utility. From that narrative emerges the controversial theme and the subject of most of the debate, which is that the common belief that America's modern "gun culture" has its roots in America's colonial and frontier era is a myth, with little basis in historical fact.

...

Bellesiles cited the Militia Act of 1792 when he wrote (page 230): "Further,

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Will Bagley is a venomous gasbag, consumed with bombastic hatred for Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Mormonism.

(And don't give me any flak for "spewing hatred" against the poor soul. I've rarely said anything about Bagley anywhere at all, whether in print or privately. But he's had a very great deal to say about me -- and his other chosen enemies and targets -- in various on-line fora, and, to put it mildly, none of it was precisely flattering.)

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When Bagley publicly calls the subject of his biography a "whackhead," "Ultimate Frontier Thug," "Potentate," "Traitor," "Terrorist," and so forth, it is easy to guess how good his historical treatment will be.

As s sidenote, his public mockery of Hugh Nibley is downright bizarre. Nibley, as the old saying goes, forgot more than Bagley ever knew.

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I just need to correct you on one thing. Many people have got a lot of mileage out of the "allies" and "grains" issue, but really they have made a mountain out of a mole hill. For one, it wasn't a purposeful "rigging" of the text, it was an honest mistake in getting the word wrong. Anyone that has spent time looking at old manuscripts on microfilm can see how this can happen.

But in this instance, your defense loses its potency when we look at the graphic of Huntington's journal showing the handwriting. Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder could see that the word there is "grain." It looks nothing like "allies."

I'm not saying it is a purposeful deception. But at best it amounts to gross carelessness, especially if it purports to implicate Brigham Young in a "premeditated criminal act" warranting death by hanging. And to quietly correct the misreading without public acknowledgment of it only compounds the offense, especially when the author continues to make specious claims about having his conclusions "bolstered."

Smac, your analysis is superb. Bravo!

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I just need to correct you on one thing. Many people have got a lot of mileage out of the "allies" and "grains" issue, but really they have made a mountain out of a mole hill. For one, it wasn't a purposeful "rigging" of the text, it was an honest mistake in getting the word wrong. Anyone that has spent time looking at old manuscripts on microfilm can see how this can happen. Furthermore the word "allies" originally appeared in brackets, "[allies]", this does indicate the word was inserted. Now he does deserve criticism for not explaining the bracketed word in a footnote. But you are simply wrong that he maliciously rigged the word. How do I know this? I asked him. Now I know in the Mormon apologetic world it is easy to label people as anti-Mormon and therefore they are liars. But remember, Bagley is not small potatoes, his book won many western history awards. Common sense can tell you there is no way he would have purposely done it knowing he'd be caught.

As someone who has worked on decoding a few different diary entries for the Religious Studies Center's early Mormon diary publications, I have experience with this kind of problem. I cannot fathom how someone could possibly read "allies" from that text. With an abundance of perfectly clear examples of all the associated letters of both words surrounding this portion of the text, it's simply impossible that someone could honestly derive the word "allies." This isn't even up for debate. It is absolutely clearly "grain."

Next item that demonstrates the silliness of harping on this. I was not aware it was changed in the soft cover version, but you note nothing changes in his interpretation of it even though he changed the word to grains. That is because that was never the point of the document in the first place. It always puzzled me why so many intelligent historians harped on this when it was so easy to see that it didn't matter if the word was allies or grains in the context that Bagley was using the passage. There were so many other things to criticize Bagley on how he was using this passage, but so many people got caught up in thinking they had busted Bagley in a document manipulation. It should be noted that Bagley has since stated that he made too much of the September 1 meeting, which I thought was obvious. But it is time for certain people to criticize his overall argument and not get so caught up over the issue of "allies" versus "grains."

I am also curious if those that spew their hatred toward Bagley and think he purposefully falsified a historical document would say the same about how the Church has falsified documents and people like Joseph Fielding Smith have falsified history and likely know exactly what they are doing.

"Spew their hatred"? This kind of lack of academic integrity needs to be pointed out, and I think it's quite presumptuous to call it "hatred" just because it happens to be in defense of an ideological position. By the way, do you have any documentation for this claim of document falsification on the part of the church?

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Thanks, smac, for the great analysis. Despite frustration with people like Bagley having a stage, the best thing that can be done is to provide thoughtful and careful information showing what they're really doing. Keep it up!

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Will Bagley is a venomous gasbag, consumed with bombastic hatred for Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Mormonism.

There you go again, always sugar-coating things.

I wish for once you'd say what you really think.

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Just to put in a good word for good ol' Dimick, I'd like to ask what in his journal entry indicates:

- that it would be a crime to solicit the natives' help for a war that's brewing, by allowing them to run off the enemy's cattle ?

- they were supposed to butcher women and children?

- that Brigham Young was even at this meeting with the Indian chiefs?

Maybe my eyes are just going bad?

Wood

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I think it is unfair to say that Will is not a historian. He's about as much of a historian as many to most who write about Mormon history.

But, he's not all that discriminating with his sources nor is he really willing to look at alternative explanations.

And he missed quite a bit. For instance, both he and Brooks missed a letter in the Huntington library (for crying out loud, Brooks helped assemble the MMM collection) from John D. Lee's lawyer to Lee indicating that the lawyer was going to alter the transcript to make it more saleable. And alter it he did; there are huge parts of the confession which were reports of incidents Lee had no way of knowing.

But, neither Brooks nor Bagley dare to mention the letter. Both pretend to eschew the Lee confessions by claiming they aren't reliable, and then rely heavily upon them. They should have mentioned this letter showing that the confessions were altered.

I once brought this omission to Bagley's attention on an lds book list. It took a lot of needling on my part for him to admit that he had overlooked this letter, and then he claimed it wasn't important.

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I think it is unfair to say that Will is not a historian. He's about as much of a historian as many to most who write about Mormon history.

But, he's not all that discriminating with his sources nor is he really willing to look at alternative explanations.

And he missed quite a bit. For instance, both he and Brooks missed a letter in the Huntington library (for crying out loud, Brooks helped assemble the MMM collection) from John D. Lee's lawyer to Lee indicating that the lawyer was going to alter the transcript to make it more saleable. And alter it he did; there are huge parts of the confession which were reports of incidents Lee had no way of knowing.

But, neither Brooks nor Bagley dare to mention the letter. Both pretend to eschew the Lee confessions by claiming they aren't reliable, and then rely heavily upon them. They should have mentioned this letter showing that the confessions were altered.

I once brought this omission to Bagley's attention on an lds book list. It took a lot of needling on my part for him to admit that he had overlooked this letter, and then he claimed it wasn't important.

Bagley's been slamming your review for the past week or so on the Mormon-L list. Nothing substantive, of course, just a bunch of one-liner dismissals.

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Smac97

Alright, I hate to have to do this, it will take a long time, but it is necessary. You either have poor reading comprehension or you have never actually read Will Bagley's book. I will quote the necessary pages so you can see the problems in what you are saying.

Page 113:

As the Fancher train made camp some seventy miles north of Mountain Meadows on the evening of September 1, 1857, Young met for about an hour with southern chiefs to implement his plan to stop overland emigration on the southern road. The Indians included "the chief of the Piedes and of the Deserts and Santa Clara, and Rio Virgen, and of Harmony." Kanosh of Corn Creek was the dedicated collaborator who the Mormons rewarded with guns and wives. Ammon from Beaver Creek, the brother of the late Wakara, was now presumed leader of the Ute Nation. Younwuds (also known as Yungwuds (also known as Yungweids or Youngquick) was chief of the Paiute band at Harmony, Lee
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Can I ask how you know this?

I asked him, and a felt a slight burning in my bosom when he told me so I know he was telling the truth.

And even if we assume it was a transcriptional error, that does not explain Bagley's retention of the conclusions that he drew from that error.

He is still saying that Huntington's journal implicates Brigham Young.

He is still saying that Brooks' treatment was incomplete and incorrect because she did not have access to Huntington's journal and its supposedly "troubling new evidence."

He is still maintaining his original thesis (that Huntington's journal implicates Brigham Young), and is now saying that the auctioned letters "buttress" that thesis. And he says all this even though none of the historical documentation in view (Huntington's journal and the recently-auctioned letters) does any such thing.

And since this interpolated word was central to his claim of having discovered "troubling new evidence" against Brigham Young, you would think he would have double-checked his source prior to making an idiot out of himself.

Well in my previous post I put everything you say here to bed. But why not do it further

Actually he has taken a step back from the argument he made in the book and does believe he made too much of the September 1 meeting. No he hasn't done this in a massive press conference where you think he should do it, but he mentioned this in a conference about a year ago at Utah Valley University. The allies reference had nothing to do with why Bagley thought it implicated Young and nothing to with why he felt Brooks treatment incomplete. I have PROVEN that above, whether grains or allies it changes nothing concerning how he used it. You can argue the journal doesn't implicate Young or that the new letters don't as well, but get off the notorious "allies" reference. You say, "And since this interpolated word was central to his claim of having discovered 'troubling new evidence' against Brigham Young, you would think he would have double-checked his source prior to making an idiot out of himself." I again challenge this ludicrous statement that again makes me wonder if you actually read his book or have a serious reading comprehension problem. Show me in his book where this interpolated word is central to his argument. Good luck with that.

And has Bagley fessed up to this error? Nope. He secretly revised BOTP, but has then proceeded as if the original error and its implications mean something.

Sorry, but I'm not willing to chalk this up to an innocent excuse. Not when Bagley hasn't fessed up, nor revised his thesis.

Again, he doesn't need to revise his thesis because of the silly word change, I PROVED that beyond any reasonable doubt above. Yes he has fessed up to his mistake, most authors do not call press conferences and make announcements on FOX, MSNBC, or CNN when they change a mistake in a second edition of a book. Furthermore the book about Mountain Meadows he just did for the Kingdom of the West series has "grains" as well. At the Utah Valley discussion he did say if he ever gets around to doing a revised edition he will change some things concerning his interpretation of the Sept 1 meeting. Look I know he didn't make that announcement on Datline or Bill Oreilly, but he did say it. But as I have demonstrated, the allies versus grains issue is really a non-issue with how he used it, I've PROVEN that to you already. Do you fault the Church for secretly revising the Gospel Principles Manual without calling a big press conference?

He also deserves criticism for not double-checking his source (given that this source was the lynchpin of his supposedly "troubling new evidence" implicating Brigham Young in a massacre).

He also deserves criticism for not publicly owning up to the error.

He also deserves criticism for quietly revising BOTP without informing his readers of the change.

He also deserves criticism for revising BOTP to correct his "error," but then continuing to condemn Brigham Young as if his "error" was factually correct.

He also deserves criticism for not taking his "error" into account when explaining his thesis.

He also deserves criticism for claiming that these recently-auctioned letters "buttress" his BOTP thesis when they don't (making the second time Bagley has publicly and grossly misrepresented the content and significance of historical sources).

I have already blown most of what you say here out the window. I have no idea if he double checked or not, what he deserves most criticism for is not indicating the difficulty he had reading the word. Remember, the word does appear in []. Also remember, I have proven that with how Bagley uses the document, it makes no difference if it says "grains" or "allies." As for the new letters, time will still tell how future historian use and evaluate them.

Has he publicly admitted this?
No he has not appeared on CNN or FOX news yet.

Well, no. Prominent historians have previously been caught flagrantly misrepresenting historical resources. For example:

An ethics investigation of Bellesiles found that he was "guilty of unprofessional and misleading work," and that he did "engage in 'serious deviations from accepted practices in carrying out [and] reporting results from research.'"

The book won the Bancroft Prize ("awarded each year by the trustees of Columbia University for books about diplomacy or the history of the Americas. It was established in 1948 by a bequest from Frederic Bancroft. The prize is generally considered the most prestigious award in the field of American history"). And it was pretty much a work of fraud.

So how does your "common sense" work out as applied to Michael Bellesiles? His book was far more prominent than Bagley's, so by your reasoning "there is no way he would have purposely done it knowing he'd be caught." And yet he did "purposefully" misrepresent data. How do you account for that? And if Bellesiles could have done it, why not Bagley (particularly given the fishy circumstances of who hired him to write BOTP)?

I know little about this case and doubt you do as well. It could be a methodology issue which academic historians are held to, I don't know. But again use common sense. Bagley knows that the Army of Israel will be out to prove him wrong and knows they would, and did, have a field day with such a mistake. Furthermore, as I have PROVEN beyond doubt, the changed word is meaningless with how he used the source. Why would he change a meaningless word?

Now take Sally Denton (who wrote another book about the Mountain Meadows Massacre). I personally caught her making a highly questionable attribution to Brigham Young (which I detailed here). Frankly, I think Denton's mistake was an honest (but still sloppy) one.

I'm willing to give Denton the benefit of the doubt. Under normal circumstances, I would do the same with Bagley. But his behavior subsequent to the publication of BOTP makes me suspect malfeasance.

I know, he hasn't appeared on Countdown with Keith Olberman yet. What horrible behavior!!! I can't help but ask, are you seriously for real on this issue?

Bull. Read Coates and Crockett. The entry from Huntington is not "troubling" in any material way except for the interpolated reference to raising "enemies."

Feel free to respond to Coates' treatment of this. Until then, your puzzlement isn't worth my time.

Well I more than PROVED above that the changed word is meaningless to his argument. Now the ball is in your court, disregarding your heroes Coates and Crocket, demonstrate to me how the word difference changes anything concerning Bagley's argument.

In other words: "Move along folks. Nothing to see here!"

Or how about: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

If his faulty interpolation is so trivial and insignificant, why did he tell a person asking about it to "f*** off?" (By the way, the person who was told this by Bagley was not LDS, and in fact is extremely hostile to Mormonism.)

I don't pay much attention to gossip.

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But in this instance, your defense loses its potency when we look at the graphic of Huntington's journal showing the handwriting. Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder could see that the word there is "grain." It looks nothing like "allies."

I'm not saying it is a purposeful deception. But at best it amounts to gross carelessness, especially if it purports to implicate Brigham Young in a "premeditated criminal act" warranting death by hanging. And to quietly correct the misreading without public acknowledgment of it only compounds the offense, especially when the author continues to make specious claims about having his conclusions "bolstered."

Smac, your analysis is superb. Bravo!

Obviously you have very little experience in transcribing old documents. You are going off of a picture of the document. Now ask yourself, which version of the document did Bagley look at? Was it the original? Was it microfilmed? I don't know what he looked at, and I don't think you do either. But I can tell you this, I have seen several versions of different typescripts of a journal in the Church Archives. All the different typescripts are different (I would have to look through some files, but I want to say it is the Peter Conover journal). The fact is that journal I looked at is almost unreadable, but there is certain types of lighting to make things more clear. For example, the Selected Collections the Church Archives put on CD have some outstanding pictures of the documents (this is not universally true). Some of the pictures are far more crisp and easier to read than the original or the a microfilm copy. So it is easy to make a statement out of sheer ignorance that Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder could see it because the picture provided in BYU studies looks easy to read, but if you had just a little more experience with the many different kinds of factors involved you would know why it is totally possible Bagley made an honest mistake. Furthermore it is indicated by the fact that he bracketed it. And again, as I have more than PROVEN above, the word changes nothing concerning his argument, so why would he change a frivolous word? What is it with this obsession of him not making a public announcement?

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Ok, time to test the logical consistency of some of you that have freaked out at Will Bagley's mistaken word. Lets look at some other examples of people falsifying documents to see if they anger you guys to the same degree.

Chapter 38 of last years Joseph Smith Manual is the Wentworth letter. Page 38 gives a specific quote from the Wentworth letter. "On the 6th of April, 1830, the 'Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,' was first organized in the town of Fayette, Seneca county, state of New York." Oops, now wait a minute! That is not what the Wentworth letter says, it says, "On the 6th of April, 1830, the 'Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,' was first organized in the town of Manchester, Ontario co., state of New York." So I guess since the tradition says that the church was organized in Fayette it is ok, without any indication or even a public announcement on CNN that matters so much to some of you guys, the correlation committee of the church took it upon itself to falsify a historical document, KNOWINGLY falsifying it. This is even worse than Bagley, because we know this was not a mistake, falsifying this document was on purpose.

Lets move onto John A. Widtsoe who compiled the Discourses of Brigham Young. Read the following passages and compare them to the Journal of Discourses:

1. Widtsoe: "...I ask, had we not reason to feel that our enemies were also in favor of our destruction?" (p. 478)

JOD: "...I ask, had we not reason to feel that our enemies were in the ascendant? That even the government, by their silent acquiescence, were also in favor of our destruction?" (2:173).

2. Widtsoe: "Wait patiently, brethren, until it is done, and put forth your hands willingly to finish it. I know what it will be. I scarcely ever say much about revelations, or visions,..."(p. 410).

JOD: "Wait patiently, brethren, until it is done, and put forth your hands willingly to finish it. I know what it will be. I am not a visionary man, neither am I given to prophesying. When I want any of that done I call on Brother Heber-He is my Prophet, he loves to prophesy, and I love to hear him. I scarcely ever say much about revelations, or visions,..." (1:132-133).

3. Widtsoe: "At this time came a revelation that we could be baptized for our dead friends..." (p. 462).

JOD: "At this time came a revelation, that the Saints could be baptized and re-baptized when they chose, and then that we could be baptized for our dear friends..." (18:241)

Uh oh, this Apostle of the Lord didn't call for a press conference to admit he was falsifying Young's words nor does he indicate he is doing that. In fact, he does the exact opposite. He says, "No liberties have been taken, in this book, with the words of Brigham Young. In a few instances, errors in language or spelling, which should have been caught by the printer, have been corrected" (Preface, vii). Boy oh boy, Bagley doesn't seem so bad now does he. Widtsoe is dealing with typed words in the JOD and changes them. Then he blatantly lies about doing so.

I could go on with Widtsoe's falsification of sermons, but you get the point.

Now lets move onto Joseph Fielding Smith. In a correspondence between Joseph Fielding Smith and Richard C. Evans of the RLDS Church in Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage: A Discussion in 1905., Smith used an argument to demonstrate that the doctrine of plural marriage began with Joseph Smith.

Joseph Fielding Smith said the following on page 55:

"I have copied the following from the Prophet

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Obviously you have very little experience in transcribing old documents. You are going off of a picture of the document. Now ask yourself, which version of the document did Bagley look at? Was it the original? Was it microfilmed? I don't know what he looked at, and I don't think you do either. But I can tell you this, I have seen several versions of different typescripts of a journal in the Church Archives. All the different typescripts are different (I would have to look through some files, but I want to say it is the Peter Conover journal). The fact is the journal is almost unreadable, but there is certain types of lighting to make things more clear. For example, the Selected Collections the Church Archives put on CD have some outstanding pictures of the documents (this is not universally true). Some of the pictures are far more crisp and easier to read than the original or the a microfilm copy. So it is easy to make a statement out of sheer ignorance that Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder could see it because the picture provided in BYU studies looks easy to read, but if you had just a little more experience with the many different kinds of factors involved you would know why it is totally possible Bagley made an honest mistake.

I have worked with the Church's manuscripts numerous times. I have plenty of experience in this area, and I vehemently reject the notion that Bagley honestly thought this said "allies," irrespective of what text he was using. Double /l/ does not come through no matter how blurry that text becomes. I think it's time to stop pumping this dry well. You know as well as everyone else there's no way he honestly thought the text said "allies."

Furthermore it is indicated by the fact that he bracketed it. And again, as I have more than PROVEN above, the word changes nothing concerning this argument, so why would he change a frivolous word? What is it with this obsession of him not making a public announcement?

It's dishonest scholarship.

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I have worked with the Church's manuscripts numerous times. I have plenty of experience in this area, and I vehemently reject the notion that Bagley honestly thought this said "allies," irrespective of what text he was using. Double /l/ does not come through no matter how blurry that text becomes. I think it's time to stop pumping this dry well. You know as well as everyone else there's no way he honestly thought the text said "allies."

It's dishonest scholarship.

It was sloppy scholarship yes. I too have a lot of experience with manuscripts and have found they can be a challenge and can easily see how the word was mistaken. Maybe you havn't looked at any difficult manuscripts. I have seen typscripts of the same document that read very differently due to the difficulty in seeing certain words. But in this case you need to use common sense. Its not that difficult. Answer the following questions:

1. Why would he deliberately do it knowing he would be caught? Wouldn't make sense would it.

2. Why would he change a word that has no bearing on how used the document? It didn't need to say "allies" for him to use in the manner that he did, I PROVED that beyond doubt above.

3. Who is the ultimate authority on how the word was mistaken as allies? This is obvious of course, its Will Bagley. He has stated to me how he messed it up. I have no reason to doubt him due to the fact it would make no sense whatsoever for him to have done it intentionally. It doesn't change one thing he argued. Furthermore I felt a warm burning in my bosom when he told me so it must be true.

4. Do you have any evidence that he did it on purpose? If so, what?

5. Considering the word change changes nothing about his argument, why would he do it? I assume you know why he would since you have psychic powers to know he did it on purpose.

It just doesn't make sense to an intelligent person. Now I know it is easier to simply demonize and label someone rather than engage their actual argument, but come on.

Now you want to see real examples of people knowingly falsifying documents, just look above to see how the churches correlation committee, John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Matthew Brown have done it. Will Bagley doesn't hold a candle when it comes to deception when compared to these guys.

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It was sloppy scholarship yes. I too have a lot of experience with manuscripts and have found they can be a challenge and can easily see how the word was mistaken. Maybe you havn't looked at any difficult manuscripts.

I have looked at very difficult manuscripts. This isn't one.

I have seen typscripts of the same document that read very differently due to the difficulty in seeing certain words. But in this case you need to use common sense. Its not that difficult. Answer the following questions:

1. Why would he deliberately do it knowing he would be caught? Wouldn't make sense would it.

And yet academics do it all the time. Right now a trial is taking place because the son of a prominent Dead Sea Scrolls author was impersonating, with the help of his father and family, other Dead Sea Scrolls scholars online to make them seem hateful, vindictive, and stupid. Doesn't make sense, but it happened. The fact that someone's behavior doesn't make sense doesn't really matter when the evidence all points in a certain direction.

2. Why would he change a word that has no bearing on how used the document? It didn't need to say "allies" for him to use in the manner that he did, I PROVED that beyond doubt above.

All you did above was show that Bagley never directly addressed the word. The "grain" reading shows a reluctance to fight. The "allies" reading shows a desire to fight. You've proven nothing except that your methodologies are poor.

3. Who is the ultimate authority on how the word was mistaken as allies? This is obvious of course, its Will Bagley. He has stated to me how he messed it up. I have no reason to doubt him due to the fact it would make no sense whatsoever for him to have done it intentionally. It doesn't change one thing he argued. Furthermore I felt a warm burning in my bosom when he told me so it must be true.

I wouldn't trust a single transcription the man has ever done if he messed up that word. And save your patronizing for someone who cares.

4. Do you have any evidence that he did it on purpose? If so, what?

The fact that "allies" is an absolutely unjustified and ridiculous reading of the text. He either did it on purpose or never read the text.

5. Considering the word change changes nothing about his argument, why would he do it? I assume you know why he would since you have psychic powers to know he did it on purpose.

It very clearly changes his argument. Without that reading it shows reluctance on the part of the Indians involved to fight, not a willingness to go attack someone, and definitely not acceptance of a request to go attack someone. The "allies" reading shows exactly the opposite.

It just doesn't make sense to an intelligent person.

Intelligent people don't go around telling Mormons they know Bagley's being honest because of a burning in the bosom.

Now I know it is easier to simply demonize and label someone rather than engage their actual argument, but come on.

Now you want to see real examples of people knowingly falsifying documents, just look above to see how the churches correlation committee, John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Matthew Brown have done it. Will Bagley doesn't hold a candle when it comes to deception when compared to these guys.

Well, the first example you share is wrong. A 1989 Ensign article discusses exactly that issue.

When you show me you can engage this discussion without burping up infantile rhetoric and poor historiography then I'll get more involved, but if you're going to insult my intelligence with this bush league argument then I'm not wasting my time.

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