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Exiles in a Land of Liberty

Mormons in America, 1830-1846

By Kenneth H. Winn

296 pp., 6 x 9

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4300-0
    Published: August 1990
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6635-1
    Published: November 2000

Studies in Religion

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Awards & distinctions

A 1991 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Using the concept of "classical republicanism" in his analysis, Kenneth Winn argues against the common view that the Mormon religion was an exceptional phenomenon representing a countercultural ideology fundamentally subversive to American society. Rather, he maintains, both the Saints and their enemies affirmed republican principles, but in radically different ways.

Winn identifies the 1830 founding of the Mormon church as a religious protest against the pervasive disorder plaguing antebellum America, attracting people who saw the libertarianism, religious pluralism, and market capitalism of Jacksonian America as threats to the Republic. While non-Mormons shared the perception that the Union was in danger, many saw the Mormons as one of the chief threats. General fear of Joseph Smith and his followers led to verbal and physical attacks on the Saints, which reinforced the Mormons' conviction that America had descended into anarchy. By 1846, violent opposition had driven Mormons to the uninhabited Great Salt Lake Basin.

Reviews

"[This book] is well researched and well written, inviting us to look at a dimension of the relationship between Mormonism and American culture that certainly merits attention."--American Historical Review

"[Winn's] ability to place Mormon aspirations within different intellectual, religious and social contexts marks his approach and underscores the importance of his volume."--Canadian Review of American Studies

"A useful contribution to our understanding of a singular people and their antagonists. . . . [Winn] captures the details . . . of the Mormon's travails very well."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"A study that must be read by all students of early Mormon history."--Illinois Historical Journal

"Full of stimulating insights, fresh interpretations, and new ways of understanding the early Mormons and their neighbors. Indispensable reading on early Mormon history."--Leonard Arrington