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The question of refinement cut even more deeply in Utah in the early days when the governance of the territory was at issue. The Latter-day Saints worked with a double handicap in striving to win respect from eastern travelers: in addition to the usual doubts about civilization in the West, the visitors were skeptical about Mormon religious fanaticism. Travelers came expecting that the poor credulous fools who submitted to the rule of Brigham Young would lack education, manners, taste, and intelligence—in short,would be as degraded as the woodcutters Trollope sighted along the banks of the Mississippi. The Saints for their part had a lot at stake in proving the travelers wrong. If they could not persuade visitors of their religious beliefs, the Mormons at least wanted to demonstrate their refinement.Besides respect from eastern cultural centers, control over their government hung in the balance.
© 1999 Brigham Young University Press
Bushman, Richard L. “Was Joseph Smith a Gentleman? The Standard for Refinement in Utah,” in Nearly Everything Imaginable: The Everday Life of Utah’s Mormon Pioneers (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1999), 27-46.