Editor’s Introduction: In 1973, LDS church historian Leonard Arrington approached Jack Adamson about the possibility of writing an introduction to a collection of Brigham Young’s letters to his sons, which Dean C. Jessee was then preparing. Surprisingly, perhaps even to himself, Jack agreed to do it.
The result is this splendid reflection on Brigham Young’s character and values as a leader. According to conversation with the late historian Professor Frederick Buchanan, this piece is widely considered a classic of Mormon letters. It is posted here with the permission of Dean C. Jessee.
This piece also introduces a theme to which these posts will return: Jack Adamson’s complex and shifting relationship with the Mormon church. Born and raised in the church, he served an LDS mission to Scotland in 1937-38. He broke with the church intellectually and spiritually some time in the late 1940s; however, he remained a fascinated student of Mormon history and culture, and, at the time of his death, had been commissioned by Leonard Arrington to write a biography of Brigham Young (source: Leonard Arrington, “Adventures of a Church Historian,” U. of Illinois Press, 1998, 196). See also Arrington’s interview in “Dialogue,” http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V22N04_41.pdf.
Sadly, Jack did not live to begin this task. Arrington himself took it on, and produced the masterful American Moses. BrighamYoung’s Letters to His Sons (pdf)