The Failure of the Kirtland Safety Society
The argument over the Kirtland Safety Society is typical of historical discussions in which much is made about the “facts” of a situation. It is as if the truth were somewhere “out there” and if we could somehow manage to separate fact from opinion, we would know what really happened. This idea neglects to consider the point that the facts of history seldom come to us in pure form, since they are always filtered through the mind of the historian who wrote them. There are no “facts” waiting in splendid isolation for discovery by the historian, but only the observations of earlier writers who had their own prejudices. Thus, the anti-Mormon writer who sees the “facts” as damning to the Church and the pro-Mormon writer who sees them as further proof of the validity of his own argument might be wise in working to obtain a broader perspective of the problem in order to reevaluate that which they have come to accept as fact. The purpose of this paper is to reexamine the story of the Kirtland Safety Society.