Book Review | BYU Studies

Book Review

November 2, 2017
Book Review
Defender: The Life of Daniel H. Wells
Cherry B. Silver

This daily feature is an introduction to a full Book Review by Cherry B. Silver. To read the full text of this review, follow the link below.

His wives referred to him with tongue-in-cheek respect as "the Esquire." Brigham Young and other associates addressed him as Squire Wells. Militia members followed their "General." The people of Salt Lake City elected him mayor for ten years. Church members honored him as counselor in the First Presidency for twenty years and president of the Endowment House for nine. He presided over the European Mission twice and served as first president of the Manti Temple.

The accomplishments of Daniel H. Wells (1814–1891) are amply documented in a new biography by his descendant Quentin Thomas Wells. This volume, entitled Defender: The Life of Daniel H. Wells, unfolds Wells's military roles, public service, business acumen, church callings, and family life with convincing detail and skillful narrative flow. It offers an overview of a developing frontier society. It describes an impossibly busy life for Daniel Wells, who held overlapping roles in the public sphere as he supported six wives and many children. Yet he was not personally ambitious, claims the author: "As with other civic positions to which he was elected, Daniel did not actively seek the job of mayor. . . . Brigham Young requested Daniel to stand for the office. He agreed and was elected by a large majority" (293).