The Latter-day Saints: A Study of the Mormons in the Light of Economic Conditions

The Latter-day Saints: A Study of the Mormons in the Light of Economic Conditions, which originally appeared in London in 1912, was the work of two Marxian socialists from America. It was particularly significant in the context of the intense anti-Mormonism in England in the early twentieth century, for it was the first fullblown Marxist interpretation of Mormon history to be published. At heart, however, it was also an indictment of American capitalism, which, the authors charge, eventually took over and dominated the Church.

The first five chapters sketchily cover the American setting, the origin of the Church, the Martyrdom, the exodus to the Great Basin, and the creation of the Mormon “empire” in Utah. They are written in a strident tone and avoid no opportunity for snide remarks clearly intended to show that if Mormonism ever had a spiritual foundation it rapidly disappeared as the Church became more involved in economic enterprise. The fierce desire by the Mormons for economic control of the Great Basin, the authors claim, led directly to the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the Mormon War. Such spurious interpretations have long been discredited by responsible Mormon and non-Mormon historians, but they were clearly the kind of thing anti-Mormons in England and elsewhere wanted to hear in 1912.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 35:3
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