In this exciting and readable autobiography, one of the most colorful figures of the American frontier recounts his poverty-stricken childhood, his rowdy adolescence in Rocky Mountain mining camps, his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Congress, and his stormy career in one of the leading councils of the Mormon church. Polygamy, women’s suffrage, prohibition, and separation of church and state occupy center stage in the unfolding drama of Brigham Henry Roberts’s controversial life.
The story-book adventures of Roberts’s life made him a household name during his lifetime. His impassioned speeches incited riots, his reasoned writings defined and codified religious beliefs, and his candid disclosures of Utah history brought him both respect and censure. He is best remembered today as a largely self-educated intellectual. Several of his landmark published works are still in print more than fifty years after his death. His life story, told here in his own words and published for the first time, may well stand as his greatest, most enduring achievement.
For many today, B. H. Roberts is the quintessential Mormon intellectual of the twentieth century. But his theological writings came late in life and his historical views were more subjective than definitive. His autobiography, on the other hand, is a forthright account of the events and acquaintances that contributed to his unique faith and intellectual independence. Troubled by the memory of being abandoned as a child, and of the abusive care of quarreling and intemperate foster-parents, he survived a stormy youth of poverty and neglect. He describes his nearly ten years as a missionary to the southern United States, his subsequent tenure as an outspoken member of the First Quorum of Seventy, his public opposition to women’s suffrage, and his controversial bid for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Mormon polygamist.
Gary James Bergera is managing director of the Smith-Pettit Foundation in Salt Lake City, former managing director of Signature Books, and former managing editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. He is co-author of Brigham Young University: A House of Faith, editor of Line Upon Line: Essays on Mormon Doctrine, The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, Statements of the LDS First Presidency, and companion volumes of Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845, and The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845-1846 (also co-editor) and On Desert Trails with Everett Ruess, and a contributing author in The Prophet Puzzle: Interpretive Essays on Joseph Smith, Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience: A Mormon/Humanist Dialogue, and The Search for Harmony: Essays on Science and Mormonism. He is also the recipient of a Best Article Award from the Mormon History Association.
Sterling M. McMurrin was E. E. Ericksen Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and History Emeritus at the University of Utah until his death in 1996. He was formerly a professor of education, academic vice president, and dean of the graduate school at the University of Utah, a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, a Ford Fellow in philosophy at Princeton, U.S. Envoy to Iran, and United States Commissioner of Education. He authored Education and Freedom; The Philosophical Foundations of Mormon Theology and its companion, The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion; Religion, Reason and Truth: Essays in the Philosophy of Religion; and Swiss Schools and Ours: Why Theirs Are Better; co-authored Contemporary Philosophy: A Book of Readings; A History of Philosophy; Matters of Conscience: Conversations with Sterling M. McMurrin on Philosophy, Education, and Religion; and Toward Understanding the New Testament; and contributed to The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, Memories and Reflections: The Autobiography of E. E. Ericksen and The Truth, The Way, The Life, An Elementary Treatise on Theology: The Masterwork of B. H. Roberts.