LeRoy Anderson in 1981 first published, under the title For Christ Will Come Tomorrow, his definitive study of a charismatic, millenarian prophet and the Church of Jesus Christ of the Most High. He told there of a Mormon posse’s 1862 attack on the Morrisite compound, killing Joseph Morris, and of the continuing Morrisite movement, which survived into the mid-twentieth century. In this newly revised edition, Anderson revisits his subject by referring to more recently discovered documents, considering other scholars’ continuing work on Morris’s sect and related subjects, and examining a 1980s messianic sect that claimed a direct connection to the Morrisites.
New documentary sources include a holograph “History of George Morris,” written by Joseph Morris’s brother, which Anderson quotes at length. What was once a little-studied subject has since received attention from a number of scholars. Anderson references such current work on Mormon schismatic movements and broader subjects, much of which drew on his work. Perhaps the book’s most interesting and unintended influence was on that obscure 1980s messianic sect, in Montana, which learned of Morris through Joseph Morris and the Saga of the Morrisites.
The study of Joseph Smith and his writings have long been shaped by the polemical atmosphere that surrounds Smith’s claims to divine authorship. Even after a half-century of serious scholarship devoted to Smith, fundamental questions remain about how to best interpret features of his life and writing. Smith’s own History of Joseph Smith (edited and revised at the beginning of the twentieth century by B. H. Roberts) created an enduring image that influenced Mormon theology, doctrine, and polity for generations. With new historical documents now available, however, a reappraisal of Smith and the origins of Mormonism is necessary.
Ronald O. Barney, a former editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, applies new interpretations to Smith in history and memory, re-examining both his writings and contemporary accounts of him. The book explores the best methodologies for appraising the historical record, including a review of Smith’s world and its contextual background, an analysis of his foundational experiences, and a characterization of Smith as a man and prophet. Though the premise of re-evaluation may be unsettling to traditionalists, a modern reconsideration of the historical record’s entire range of sources is necessary to fashion a strategy for evaluating Smith and his enduring but complex legacy.
The apparent parallels between Mormon ritual and doctrine and those of Freemasonry have long been recognized. That Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other early church leaders were, at least for a time, Masons, is common knowledge. Yet while early historians of the LDS Church openly acknowledged this connection, the question of influence was later dismissed and almost became taboo among faithful church members. Just as Mormons have tried to downplay any ties to Freemasonry, Masons have sought to distance themselves from Mormonism. In Joseph’s Temples, Michael Homer reveals how deeply the currents of Freemasonry and Mormonism entwined in the early nineteenth century. He goes on to lay out the later declining course of relations between the two movements, until a détente in recent years.
There are indications that Freemasonry was a pervasive foundational element in Mormonism and that its rituals and origin legends influenced not just the secret ceremonies of the LDS temples but also such important matters as the organization of the Mormon priesthood, the foundation of the women’s Relief Society, the introduction and concealment of polygamy, and the church’s position on African Americans’ full membership. Freemasonry was also an important facet of Mormons’ relations with broader American society.
The two movements intertwined within a historical context of early American intellectual, social, and religious ferment, which influenced each of them and in varying times and situations placed them either in the current or against the flow of mainstream American culture and politics. Joseph’s Temples provides a comprehensive examination of a dynamic relationship and makes a significant contribution to the history of Mormonism, Freemasonry, and their places in American history.
Recipient of the Meritorious Book Award from the Utah Division of State History
"Junius and Joseph examines Joseph Smith's nearly forgotten  presidential bid, the events leading up to his assassination on June 27, 1844, and the tangled aftermath of the tragic incident. It... establishes that Joseph Smith's murder, rather than being the deadly outcome of a spontaneous mob uprising, was in fact a carefully planned military-style execution. It is now possible to identify many of the key individuals engaged in planning his assassination as well as those who took part in the assault on Carthage jail. And furthermore, this study presents incontrovertible evidence that the effort to remove the Mormon leader from power and influence extended well beyond Hancock County [Illinois] (and included prominent Whig politicians as well as the Democratic governor of the state), thereby transforming his death from an impulsive act by local vigilantes into a political assassination sanctioned by some of the most powerful men in Illinois. The circumstances surrounding Joseph Smith's death also serve to highlight the often unrecognized truth that a full understanding of early Mormon history can be gained only when considered in the context of events taking place in American society as a whole."