Terrible Revolution

Terrible Revolution : Latter-day Saints and the American Apocalypse

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The relationship between early Mormons and the United States was marked by anxiety and hostility, heightened over the course of the nineteenth century by the assassination of Mormon leaders, the Saints' exile from Missouri and Illinois, the military occupation of the Utah territory, and the national crusade against those who practiced plural marriage. Nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints looked forward to apocalyptic events that would unseat corrupt governments
across the globe, particularly the tyrannical government of the United States. The infamous "White Horse Prophecy" referred to this coming American apocalypse as "a terrible revolution... in the land of America, such as has never been seen before; for the land will be literally left without a supreme
government." Mormons envisioned divine deliverance by way of plagues, natural disasters, foreign invasions, American Indian raids, slave uprisings, or civil war unleashed on American cities and American people. For the Saints, these violent images promised a national rebirth that would vouchsafe the protections of the United States Constitution and end their oppression.

In Terrible Revolution, Christopher James Blythe examines apocalypticism across the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, particularly as it took shape in the writings and visions of the laity. The responses of the church hierarchy to apocalyptic lay prophecies promoted their own form of separatist nationalism during the nineteenth century. Yet, after Utah obtained statehood, as the church sought to assimilate to national religious norms, these same leaders sought
to lessen the tensions between themselves and American political and cultural powers. As a result, visions of a violent end to the nation became a liability to disavow and regulate. Ultimately, Blythe argues that the visionary world of early Mormonism, with its apocalyptic emphases, continued in the church's
mainstream culture in modified forms but continued to maintain separatist radical forms at the level of folk-belief.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 163 x 242 x 30mm | 666g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0190080280
  • 9780190080280

Table of contents



Chapter One: The Apocalyptic Tradition in Early Mormonism

Chapter Two: "Long Shall His Blood...Stain Illinois": Martyrology and Malediction

Chapter Three: The Geography of Mormon Apocalyptic

Chapter Four: The Judgments Begin: Apocalypticism in Utah Territory

Chapter Five: The Americanization of Mormon Apocalyptic

Chapter Six - Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Apocalyptic Trajectories

Afterword: Apocalypticism in the "Mormon Moment"


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Review quote

Terrible Revolution was one of the most exciting and well-researched books I've read in a while. It is a book that you want to complete in one sitting, but don't. Instead, you show restraint and space out the reading because you want to savor the history and enjoy it a moment longer. * Christopher Angulo, Association of Mormon Letters blog * The title may include "Terrible," but this book is anything but. It is a unique contribution to understanding the history, theology, and folklore surrounding the much-anticipated end times through the eyes of the church and its lay members. * Kevin Folkman, Association For Mormon Letters *
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About Christopher James Blythe

Christopher James Blythe is a research associate at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. He is the editor of the Journal of Mormon History and was a documentary editor at the Joseph Smith Papers from 2015 to 2018.
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