Title: Hosea Stout: Lawman, Legislator, Mormon Defender
Author: Stephen Prince
Publisher: Utah State University Press
Year Published: 2016
Number of Pages: 379
Let all those who pass the bridge to council go unmolested, except Bishop Miller; kill him and throw him over the bridge – Order given by Hosea Stout to Brigham Young’s guards at the Sugar Creek encampment in 1846, later retracted as having been a “joke” (see the introduction pp 3-5, and pp 122-123).
“If the mobs come upon you, kill them, I will never restrain you again, but will go and help you” – Joseph Smith in a council meeting in Nauvoo, November 29, 1843, to which Brigham Young reacted by saying that “he would never put his hand on brother Hosea Stout’s shoulder again to hold him back when he was abused” (See p. 92).
Hosea Stout was a fascinating and a complex man. As these introductory quotes indicate, he was known for his violence. His reputation as a man with violent tendencies and his stern public nature were so well known in his time that he became a controversial figure in Mormonism while still alive. In fact, he was controversial enough in the Church that at one point he was relieved of his duties as captain of an emigrating company (p. 117) and at about that same time a rumor began to circulate that he had shot Brigham Young and had taken over the pioneer camp. This rumor became prevalent enough that John D Lee felt compelled to write “Brigham Young is not murdered;…Hosea Stout has not mutinized; the guards have committed no insurrection” (p. 124).
I’m not sure just what Stout looked like in his day to day life. The nature of 19th century photography with its slow emulsions and required long exposure times sometimes gives us an overly serious and distorted view of what people looked like back then. But I’ll say this, my first thoughts on seeing the cover of the book “Hosea Stout: Lawman, Legislator, Mormon Defender,” which contains a photo of an older Stout with a grey beard, is that he was one *bad* dude who you didn’t want to mess with. It is a picture that certainly adds to Stout’s reputation as a potentially violent man. In the image he has a cold, steely glare and to me, looks somewhat like a man who could murder you in your sleep (one of my friends said that for him this photo made him think of Charles Manson). Based on the quotes/excerpts above, Stout may very well have been the kind of guy who could have killed you without giving it a second thought. As I mentioned, he was already a controversial figure during his lifetime, and has only become more so with the passage of time. Though Stout’s name is probably not that well known to the membership of the LDS Church at large (his name is well known to those who research 19th century Mormonism), he was involved in some of the very interesting (and often violent) incidents in LDS Church history. In this book, award winning author Stephen Prince  attempts delve into the enigmatic life of Hosea Stout and offers new insights and information about the man who is sometimes a legend.
This biography is of course not the first book that has been published on Stout’s life. He is most well-known because of the University of Utah Press published version of his diary titled “On the Mormon Frontier” which was skillfully edited by Juanita Brooks back in the 1960’s (it is a book that is hard to miss as Stout’s face is staring at you from off of the spine of the two volume set). His much shorter autobiography has also been published and is available as a pdf online. With these sources fairly readily available one might ask if a biography was really necessary. Price answers this question in the book’s introduction:
Some might consider…On the Mormon Frontier the last word on…Hosea Stout. If so, they would be greatly uninformed concerning Stout’s life, the role he played in Mormon and Utah history, and how much of his history is not contained in his journal (p. x).
Prince then points out that Stout’s journal mainly covers the period of October 1844 to Christmas 1859 with just a few random entries after that which end in 1869. Since Stout was active in Mormon and Utah affairs until his death in 1889, and since his journal covers news about political happenings more than it does personal details, a biography is necessary to really get to know Stout and his contributions.
I have to admit; when my copy of “Hosea Stout” arrived in the mail, my first thought was, “Wow, it looks so small!” And at 20 chapters and 379 pages, in some ways this book seemed a little short to me at first. But I think that is just because, by comparison, a lot of very large biographical and historical books on LDS figures and documents have been released recently. As I read the book, I quickly came to feel that the length was perfect, there was enough information to keep me interested, but that if the book were any longer, the author would have been adding too much padding based on the information he was working with. The book flows very well and “reads quickly.” The chapters average right around 20 pages in length and as I finished each one I was engaged enough to want to keep going and find out what happened in the next. The book has a healthy sprinkling of maps and illustrations and the chapter endnotes made it easy for me to find sources for events which I wanted to learn more about and to understand what sources the author was using to form his ideas and opinions.
When I got this book I was very anxious to read it and learn more about Stout. The things that I had heard about him, like the quotes at the top of this review, seemed to indicate that he was a short tempered, violent sort of man (I admit, I own but have not read, “On the Mormon Frontier”). Some of the things that I knew or had heard about Stout before reading this book included: that Stout had fought in the Battle of Crooked River, that as the Nauvoo chief of police he had some men beaten, that he was possibly connected to the murder of a member of the Hodges Brothers gang in Nauvoo, that he had been accused by some of using poison to murder Samuel Smith, and that he was involved in/present for several violent events during his time in the Utah territory including the murder of Richard Yates by Bill Hickman during the “Utah War.” But other than knowing that he tended to pop up when violence was happening, I knew nothing else about Stout. Reading Prince’s book changed all that and painted for me a picture of Stout as a complex, troubled, sometimes violent, sometimes paranoid, sometimes loving man who above all else was loyal to his family and to the leaders of the Church to which he pledged his life.
Stephen Prince provides a lot of information on Stout’s early life that, while impossible to truly analyze and diagnose from over a hundred years of distance, could be seen as events and experiences that were contributing factors to the violence and violent attitudes that Stout had and was involved in later in his life. Prince details how as a young boy Stout was seriously abused by teachers at school (p. 11-13), abused by his father (p. 19-20), abandoned more than once by his father (p. 9, 23-35), as a young man swore revenge on his father (p. 20), passed the abuse that he suffered onto his younger brother (p. 20), and was put into an apprenticeship with a man who mistreated and misused him greatly (23-25). On top of this, his mother died when he was very young. All of this happened by the time that he was 14. Stout was eventually taken in by extended relatives as a teenager after his father put him into an apprenticeship that ended poorly and then moved away without telling the young Hosea where he was going. That is enough in my book to give anyone some pretty hard feelings and a bad temper. This and other background information about his early life and family really did help to round out Stout in my mind and give him some depth and make him more than just some black hat committing violent acts along the Mormon frontier.
Prince did an excellent job of fleshing out other episodes in Stout’s life. The depiction of Stout by Prince in this book is of a man who at times seemed to suffer from full blown paranoia. For instance, for many years Stout and Charles C Rich (who would eventually be called as an LDS apostle) were close friends. They suffered together during the “Missouri Persecutions” and escaped that state together after going into hiding when the participants in the Battle of Crooked River were sought out for prosecution. They swore to protect each other’s lives and to never abandon one another, and during that time they indeed did protect one another. Their wives even escaped that state together and waited for their husbands together (see especially chapters 5 and 6). But during the trek west from Nauvoo, “While Stout fretted about his heavy, Church related burden, he obsessed over the lack of anticipated help from Charles C. Rich, becoming increasingly frustrated with each passing day” (p. 129). Stout began to conclude that Rich was his “Secret enemy” who was “doing all that he could against me” (p. 129). According to Prince, Stout soon became so “paranoid” that he “began to perceive all of Rich’s actions as threats” (p. 129, see 128-130 as well). Prince concludes this particular chapter by documenting that during this time in his life, Stout was “discouraged, desolate…destitute” and filled with despair (p. 131, see also all of chapter 11 especially p. 156).
At the same time that Stout was becoming convinced that Rich was his enemy, he also became convinced that William Clayton had it in for him. He threatened Clayton seriously enough that Clayton feared for his life (see pp. 161-162). During the trek west Stout also suffered severe illness (see p. 137). There is, of course, no way to know from our vantage point if Stout had a chemical depression, PTSD, or both, or any other such mental illnesses. But learning the depths of his despair and paranoia as outlined by Prince gives a fuller picture of the Stout who was prone to violence and offers possible reasons for his angry outbursts and an explanation as to why he saw violent reactions as acceptable responses to the events he experienced.
I do not want to spoil all of the surprises in Prince’s book. You will need to read for yourself to learn about Stout’s exploits as an attorney, as a legislator, about his role during the reformation and the “Utah War,” about Prince’s conclusions on Stout’s involvement in the deaths of Samuel Smith, Richard Yates, and Ervine Hodges, and about Stout’s time in the Cotton Mission. I do want to mention two more interesting things that I learned while reading this book that I think had a great impact on Stout and why he behaved the way he did. The leaders of the LDS Church, especially Brigham Young, frequently called upon Stout to make great sacrifices and to perform extraordinary tasks, and quite frankly, to sometimes handle their “dirty work.” After documenting a lot about this in chapter 11, titled “The Pinnacle of Violence” (perhaps the best and most informative chapter in the book), Prince concludes about Stout:
Mormonism did not create a violent man in Hosea Stout–that can be credited mostly to his childhood experiences and upbringing–but Mormon leaders put him [in] positions and gave him permission to be violent, and he took full advantage of the opportunities (p. 159).
The other fascinating experience that I want to mention is Stout’s mission to China. Two things, along with the general hardship of such a mission, really stand out. Stout was set apart for his mission by Wilford Woodruff. The blessing by Woodruff was, to say the least, fantastic. Among other things Woodruff promised Stout:
the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…thousands shall be brought into the kingdom of God through thy instrumentality…thou shalt have power to command the elements…thou shalt have power to perform many mighty miracles…thou shalt find funds in a singular manner…” He was also promised that his family and friends would be waiting for his return and that he would have no problem learning Chinese. Prince writes that “Stout believed every word of this blessing (See pages 190-193).
However, none of this happened. He performed no miracles, he learned no Chinese, had no Chinese converts and struggled as all missionaries did to pay his way. In short, Prince concludes, “[The] mission, despite solid efforts and good intentions, was a complete failure” (p. 210).
The very saddest thing about this mission and in the whole book was that shortly after Stout left his wife and son died. He did not know this for months and continued to write them and wonder why he had not heard from them. To read some of these letters as documented by Prince was heartbreaking. Then upon his return to Utah, Stout found squatters living in his home and had to spend some time evicting them before he could move back in (see chapters 13 and 14). The failed mission and the loss of his wife and child deeply impacted Stout for some time. Prince’s writing in these chapters and his telling of Stout’s trials and struggles is done very well and makes Stout a very sympathetic character.
Overall I would say that Prince did an excellent job of painting Stout as a religious zealot who was dedicated to Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and his church and in providing the colors that made up Stout’s life and showed how that zealotry developed. Stout’s upbringing included time among the Shakers, the Quakers, the Methodists, life on what was then the U.S. frontier, his brief participation in the “Blackhawk War”, his investigation into Mormonism when it was experiencing the violence of the early “Missouri Persecutions,” the violence in Missouri and Nauvoo, his losses, his illnesses, his paranoia, and other incidents documented by Prince, and give a whole new and much more complete picture of who Hosea Stout was.
I do want to mention a few places in the text where I disagree with Prince’s historical interpretations. These might be quibbling on my part as they do not directly relate to the main subject of Hosea Stout, but I still think that they are worth mentioning. In chapter six, “Refuge in Illinois,” on page 74, Prince writes, “While not necessarily abolitionists, Mormons were anti-slavery.” While it is true that Joseph Smith proposed buying and freeing all of the slaves in the South as a part of his presidential platform in 1844, the LDS Church was definitely not “anti-slavery.” While the majority of Mormons in the 1840’s and 1850’s never owned slaves, some did. Among the slave owners were several wealthy and prominent Mormons including Apostle Charles C Rich, who is mentioned frequently in the early chapters of this book due to his friendship with Stout. Three slaves were in the first wagon train to enter the future Utah territory in 1847 and at least one male slave was essentially “given” to the Church/Brigham young as “tithing.” On Feb 4, 1852 the Utah Territorial legislature (all Mormons) passed “The Act in Relation to Service,” which legalized slavery in the territory. At that same time Brigham Young spoke out in favor of slavery. So while it could be said that there were LDS Church members, including perhaps Hosea Stout and Joseph Smith, who were anti-slavery, it cannot be said that the LDS Church was “anti-slavery.”
When writing about the settlement of the Utah territory, after writing about some Native Americans who stole horses and cattle from the Mormons, Prince writes: “Though Mormons in general and Brigham Young in particular strived to avoid conflict with the Indians, it was deemed necessary that the rogue warriors needed to be taught a lesson” (p. 175). I am glad that he said that they “*strived* to avoid conflict” and Prince did acknowledge that, in this particular case, the Mormons had a violent response to the Natives. But as I read this, I also felt that it somewhat over-simplified Mormon and Native American relations. While it is true that Brigham Young at times taught that the Mormons should “feed not fight” the Native Americans, and they did, at times, “strive to avoid violence” with them, in truth, the relations between the LDS Church and Native Americans was always very complicated and frequently changed based on circumstances. Again, I want to state that I realize that Native American and Mormon relations is *not* the focus of this book, but since they were brought up, I find the following quotation by Sondra Jones to be very helpful:
The historical relationship between Mormons and Native Americans was complex and varied in time and space according to changing circumstances and personalities. … On the one hand, Mormons believed that Indians were fallen descendents of ancient Israel … in need of redemption. On the other hand, Mormons viewed Indians as an impediment to their mission to build a temporal as well as spiritual kingdom of God. The practicality of colonizing in the heart of Indian land sometimes caused Mormons to lose sight of religious ideals and treat Indians in deplorable ways. Other times Mormons interacted with their Native American neighbors with Christian grace… Although Mormons believed they had a duty to convert and train Indians, Young was more concerned with the survival and expansion of his people. He was anxious to convert Indians to Mormonism and agrarianism … but he was also prepared to kill if he had to in order to hold onto the new land he believed God had given his people. (See Reeve and Parshall, “Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia”, ABC-CLIO, 2010).
On a more minor note, back in the chapter on “Refuge in Illinois,” on page 78 Prince mentions the “Nauvoo, Illinois Stake” and writes that a stake is, “an administrative unit composed of multiple congregations.” While this became true during the Utah period of the LDS Church history and is true today, that was not what a “stake” was during the Nauvoo period. While the first “wards” were formed during the Nauvoo period (they were based on the city’s political “ward” divisions) these were merely divisions of the city in which bishops oversaw the temporal and welfare needs and contributions of the Church members. These “wards” never functioned as independent congregations with officers and meetings as “wards” do now. In all fairness to Prince, in the next chapter he did a fine job of explaining about “wards” when he said that Stout “live[d] in Nauvoo’s third ‘ward’ (a word borrowed from the term for political districts of the frontier municipality that *came* to denote a Mormon congregation)” (p. 84 parenthesis in original).
One other concern that I had about this book was Prince’s use of language and descriptors for some people. Now, I want to make it clear, I am not a historian or an academic. I did consult with some friends who are historians and academics. I was told by one of them that the language that I am about to mention *is* considered academically acceptable, so I will give Prince and the USU press credit for that. But I’ll be honest, it was language that grated on me, and it may do the same to some readers, depending on just what they are sensitive to, so I want to mention it.
Several times while describing former Mormons, Prince describes them as “apostates.” Here are a few examples, “A short time later, however, an apostate Mormon by the name of Thatcher came in and asked the landlord where Brigham Young was” (p. 121), “Almon Babbitt, an apostate Mormon who in 1853 had been appointed secretary and treasurer of the Utah Territory” (p. 234), “In New Orleans [Mrs Polydore] met John Hyde, an apostate Mormon” (p. 280). If this language is considered academically acceptable in the writing of scholarly materials than perhaps Prince and USU are to be excused, but I’ll be honest, in my mind, labelling someone as an “apostate” creates prejudice. I would have been more comfortable with “former” or maybe even “ex-Mormon” and I think that some other readers of Restorationist history might feel the same way. Related to this is several places where Prince writes about Robert Baskin and his “crusade against Mormonism” (see chapters 19 and 20, especially pp. 314, 318-319, 325-328). Much like the description of Mormon and Native American relations, I feel that Prince oversimplifies Baskin’s relationship with Mormonism and Utah. The Mormons at the time certainly felt that way about Baskin, and Mormon historians of the period such as Orson F. Whitney painted just that kind of a picture of Baskin, But I believe that history has been far kinder to Baskin than that, and recent scholarship on Baskin paints a different picture of him than a man who was simply on a “crusade” against the Mormons.
There were two other uses of language that bothered me, though again, I am given to understand that they are considered acceptable in academia so I wish to acknowledge that this is a personal, rather than a professional or “scholarly” complaint. In every instance of discussing “Native Americans” Prince refers to them as “Indians” (admittedly, so does the encyclopedic quote that I used above). For example, “the Mormons soon were troubled by Indian depredations, particularly theft…” (p. 142), “Cradlebaugh…in an act of defiance…dismissed two Indians indicted by the grand jury” (p. 290), and “David Hadlock Jones…was killed by Indians” (p. 344, see also p. 351). Some might say that I am being “politically correct,” and maybe I am, but I think that many modern readers expect to see at least a use of “Native Americans” or tribal designations when speaking of the American Aboriginal Peoples and not just “Indians.”
The last bit of language that bothered me is a very minor point, it is definitely not related to the main theme of the book, and in all honesty, it only occurs once. But it is something that rubbed my modern, feminist leaning sensitivities the wrong way, so I want to mention it in case it bothers others readers. When describing Stout’s journey back from China to the U.S.A., Prince writes that Stout “set sail on the Rose of Sharon, on board with two cabin passengers, two doctors, two cooks, thirty-seven Chinese men, and forty-nine Chinese women who were destined to be prostitutes in California” (p. 212). People in Stout’s time would of course have thought of these women as “prostitutes,” and, it may still be academically acceptable to label them as such. But I have friends who are survivors of human trafficking so this language really bothered me. I’m going to go out on a limb here by guessing that most if not all of these women were not going to America of their own free will and desire. I feel completely comfortable saying that they were all sex slaves. I fully realize that the focus of this book was Hosea Stout and that the focus of the quoted passage was to outline Stout’s voyage home, and that it was not meant as a commentary on the state of these women. But there are potential readers who are likely to be bothered by reading about women who were sold into sex slavery and seeing them called “prostitutes” when it is not in a historical context (by say, quoting a passenger list, a diary, or a ship’s register).
I hope that these last few criticisms of mine do not detract from this book for potential readers. Overall they are fairly minor concerns and none are directly related to Prince’s treatment of his main subject of Hosea Stout. Prince is correct in his assessment in the book’s introduction, that a biography on Stout was necessary to round out the story available in his published diaries and memoirs. Thanks to Prince, I did learn that Stout was a fascinating and a complicated man, who was far more than just a person who experienced some violent episodes in his life. He was a complex, fascinating individual who struggled with personal demons and severe trials. Readers of Restoration history who are interested in early Utah Mormonism, who are students of early Mormon violence, who are interested in biographical works about people outside of the general church leadership, and who have heard of Stout but are interested in gaining a more complete picture of the man, could be benefited by reading “Hosea Stout: Lawman, Legislator, Mormon Defender.”
 “On the Mormon Frontier,” which was originally published in 1964, was reissued in the 1980’s in hardback and in 2009 was published in paperback. Copies can be found on Amazon for less than 20 dollars with many copies in the 30 to 40 dollar range
 By way of comparison, “Thirteenth Apostle: The Diaries of Amasa M. Lyman” (Signature Books, 2016) is over 1000 pages long, “Eighth Witness: The Biography of John Whitmer” (John Whitmer Books, 2015) is 701 pages long, Greg Prince’s “Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History” (University of Utah Press, 2016) is an oversized format book that is 540 pages in length, “The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents” (Church Historian’s Press, 2016) is also an oversized book and is 767 pages, and the Joseph Smith Papers volume “Council of Fifty, Minutes: March 1844-Januaey 1846” (Church Historian’s Press, 2016) is another oversized book and is 734 pages long
 That would be the 1832 “Black Hawk War” in Illinois and not the 1865-1872 Black Hawk War that was fought in the Utah Territory.
 I would encourage the reader to explore the whole entry titled “Mormonism and Native Americans” in Reeve and Parshall, “Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia,” ABC-CLIO, 2010. Another good source that more fully explores the complexities of Mormon and Native American relations, especially Brigham Young’s role in them, is “Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet” by John Turner, Belknap Press; 2012.
 For a fuller treatment of Robert Baskin please see “Robert Newton Baskin and the Making of Modern Utah” by John Gary Maxwell, The Arthur H. Clark Company, 2013. For Baskin’s views, see his “Reminiscences of Early Utah with Reply to Certain Statements by O. F. Whitney.” Reprinted by Signature Books in the Signature Mormon Classics Series, 2006
 I realize that a quick internet search on my part is no substitute for scholarly research and that it is ironic for me to note this since I am being critical of Prince’s scholarly book. But when I did a quick search for the terms “Chinese sex slaves and prostitutes” in 19th century America I found quite a bit of information on the subject. Here are a few samples that show that they really were sex slaves and did not choose to be prostitutes:
Men outnumbered women by a huge margin and it did not take long for Chinese gangs to exploit this situation. They set up brothels with Chinese women throughout Chinatown and anywhere else that Chinese men congregated. A sophisticated human trafficking ring got these women past the limited interference of American officials. They were largely kidnapped or tricked into leaving their homes (usually from the southern coast of China). In either case they had little choice in their profession, and they were treated more like animals than human beings https://www.americanhistoryusa.com/chinatown-sex-slaves-human-trafficking-san-francisco-history/.
The nature of their work differed for the prostitutes who worked in high class brothels where they were decked up in silk and satin and displayed for the men to choose from and the prostitutes who worked in cribs on the streets where they were treated like virtual slaves. In most of the cases the prostitutes were not there by choice. Many of these women were lured to America under false pretenses or sold by their impoverished families and some cases they were abducted. Trafficking women was a very lucrative business that was often run by tongs in Chinatowns. It was easy to make 850 dollars a year off even a low grade prostitute (Takaki, 1998). http://www.dartmouth.edu/~hist32/History/S02%20-%20Early%20Chinese%20Prostitution.htm .
Most Chinese prostitutes were kidnapped, lured, or purchased by procurers in China, brought to America by brokers, and sold to brothel owners in humiliating basement slave ‘dens.’ Many were teenage girls, young children, or even babies when they arrived in the United States. Despite the high purchase price of Chinese girls–from one to two hundred dollars for a female baby to $1,500 or more for a teenage girl–they frequently faced physical and mental abuse. Journalists at the time reported that a four year old girl could bring in “speculative prospects” anywhere between fifteen to two thousand dollars. Many starved. Others suffered from syphilis and were left to die unattended and alone. Chinese prostitutes had an average life span of just four years in the trade. https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/chinese/20.html.
While all of these sources do use “prostitute” or “prostitution” they also mention that these women were slaves. I again acknowledge that this was not the focus of Prince’s book and maybe I am being nitpicky, but I think that his book would have been stronger if he had referred to their status as sex slaves instead of just calling them “prostitutes.”
FOR SALE AT