January Announcement for the Utah Westerners

January 9, 2017 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

The Civil War Years in Utah: The Kingdom of God

and the Territory That Did Not Fight

 Dr. Gary Maxwell

For our January meeting Gary will discuss his latest book The Civil War Years in Utah:  The Kingdom of God and the Territory That Did Not Fight.  In 1832 Joseph Smith, Jr., the Mormons’ first prophet, foretold of a great war beginning in South Carolina. In the combatants’ mutual destruction, God’s purposes would be served, and Mormon men would rise to form a geographical, political, and theocratic “Kingdom of God” to encompass the earth. Three decades later, when Smith’s prophecy failed with the end of the American Civil War, the United States left torn but intact, the Mormons’ perspective on the conflict—and their inactivity in it—required palliative revision. In The Civil War Years in Utah, the first full account of the events that occurred in Utah Territory during that war, John Gary Maxwell contradicts the patriotic mythology of Mormon leaders’ version of this dark chapter in Utah history.

While the Civil War spread death, tragedy, and sorrow across the continent, Utah Territory remained virtually untouched. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—and its faithful—proudly praise the service of an 1862 Mormon cavalry company during the Civil War, Maxwell’s research exposes the relatively inconsequential contribution of these Nauvoo Legion soldiers. Active for a mere ninety days, they patrolled overland trails and telegraph lines. Furthermore, Maxwell finds indisputable evidence of Southern allegiance among Mormon leaders, despite their claim of staunch, long-standing loyalty to the Union. Men at the highest levels of Mormon hierarchy were in close personal contact with Confederate operatives. In seeking sovereignty, Maxwell contends, the Saints engaged in blatant and treasonous conflict with Union authorities, the California and Nevada Volunteers, and federal policies, repeatedly skirting open warfare with the U.S. government.

Collective memory of this consequential period in American history, Maxwell argues, has been ill-served by a one-sided perspective. This engaging and long-overdue reappraisal finally fills in the gaps, telling the full story of the Civil War years in Utah Territory.

Gary was born and raised in Salt Lake City where he attended East High School, graduating in the same class as Bob Bennett, Jake Garn, Henry Eyring, Richard Middleton and Don Gale.  He attended medical School at the University of Utah and interned at the Salt Lake County General Hospital.  He served in the US Army reserves which included two years of active duty at Coco Solo Hospital in the Panama Canal Zone.  Gary’s completed a five-year residency in General Surgery and one year transplantation research at the University of Utah Medical Center.  He served on the faculty at the University of Utah from 1961 to 1986 where he was influential in teaching surgery to large number of students and residents.  He performed several hundred kidney transplants at the University of Utah Medical Center, including the first done in children.

 Always in the academic world Gary moved to North Carolina in 1985 to become a faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Program Director of General Surgery at Wilmington’s New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  He continued teaching medical students and residents in general surgery with special emphasis in Trauma.   He has traveled to Equador several times with surgical teams to perform surgery in underserved populations. 

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