Sunday, May 10, 2015

Thomas L. Kane Defends the Mormons

Thomas L. Kane memorial in Kane, Pennsylvania. (Source.)
The message of early Mormonism was so radical that it tended to alienate wider American and European society. Missionary efforts gathered both poor and wealthy, highly educated and unschooled, master and slave, scoundrel and pillar of society, but all who survived the winnowing effect of the Nauvoo years had to pass through the same extreme trials of crossing the Great Plains to gather with the Saints. They were trying and difficult years and it meant much to the Saints to have a powerful, respected advocate outside the Church.

Philadelphia native Thomas L. Kane (1822-1883) first met members of the Church at an 1846 conference in Philadelphia. He was an idealist and merged his family's power with the causes of the poor and downtrodden. An abolitionist at the time that such activities were a fringe movement, the plight of the Mormons caught his sympathy. Over the next few years he:

  • helped create the Mormon Battalion,
  • secured permission for temporary refugee settlements on Pottawattamie and Omaha lands,
  • defended the Church in the press,
  • served as peacemaker during the Utah War,

and he did all that while suffering very poor health. In return the members of the Church held him in highest regard. They named towns and counties after him and put a statue of him in the Utah State Capitol. He never accepted Mormon beliefs, but always defended their rights as humans and citizens of the United States.

Kane spent time in Utah with his wife Elizabeth (more about her later), became a general during the Civil War, and established the town of Kane, Pennsylvania.

In 1970 the Church purchased the Presbyterian church in Kane, Pennsylvania, and created the Thomas L. Kane Memorial Chapel. Several months ago the Church donated the chapel to the Kane Historic Preservation Society.

In 1850, Thomas Kane presented a lecture to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania about the Mormons. Over the next few while I will excerpt some of his lecture.

Additional reading
The Prophet and the Reformer (Grow, Walker, 2015)—a new book about the friendship between Brigham Young and Thomas Kane
Thomas Leiper Kane & the Utah-Mormon War of 1857-58
The Kanes Have a Mormon Thanksgiving
“The Qmlbwpnygax Eujugec Have Not the Power to Ktgjie the Wzznlhmpygtg”: Codes and Ciphers in Mormon History (part 1) (part 2) (part 3)

1—[Nauvoo] Lay as in a Dream
2—The Import of This Mysterious Solitude
3—Dreadful, Indeed, Was the Suffering
4—The Last of the Mormons That Left the City

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