Alexander William Doniphan

“It is cold blooded murder. I will not obey your order. . . . [I]f you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.” So runs one of the most spine-chilling lines in LDS history, spoken by a non-Mormon, Missouri State Militia Brigadier General Alexander Doniphan, whose refusal to obey the order of his superior, General Samuel Lucas, during the Mormon War of 1838 preserved the life of Joseph Smith and six of his associates.

In this fascinating volume, RLDS historian Roger D. Launius fills in the picture of Doniphan’s life as lawyer, politician, and military tactician. A portrait emerges of a man who tenaciously held to principles of honesty and decency throughout his life, yet who also “symbolized reason, understanding, and moderation (280). In an era deeply divided by sectional conflict, this elegantly written biography argues that Doniphan’s moderation “speaks to the present crisis in American politics” where extremism crowds out “room in the middle for interchange and compromise.”

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 38:1
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