Amateur historian pens book about links between Mormons and the White House

Historians in the News

In November 1861, President Lincoln went to the Library of Congress and checked out a few books, including the Book of Mormon. During the next few weeks, Lincoln, preparing to name Utah's new territorial governor, borrowed three more books on Mormons.

Fifty years later, when Utah Sen. Reed Smoot, a Mormon, cancelled his honeymoon to return to Washington and help pass a needed treaty, President Hoover invited the newlyweds to spend their first two weeks as a married couple at the White House.

While questions still persist about the potential election of a Mormon to the White House, a new book explores the sometimes close relationship Mormons have enjoyed with the occupants of the executive mansion since the founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mike Winder, a West Valley City councilman and self-described history buff, researched ties between the Mormon community and the White House for "Presidents and Prophets, the story of America's presidents and the LDS Church." ...

"The curiosity of what outsiders think of us and the patriotic feelings that Latter-day Saints have toward presidents and the founding fathers combine to make this an interesting book," he says. "But Mitt's candidacy, and the historical context and background that this would provide is the icing on the cake."

Backed by research at presidential libraries, the Library of Congress, Salt Lake City's two daily newspapers and the LDS Church in-house magazine and newspaper, Winder discovered a long history of exchanges between the LDS Church and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

During President Warren G. Harding's presidency, for example, the chief executive dialed up Smoot late one night and begged him to give his wife, Florence, a priesthood blessing that Smoot had talked about once before.

President Reagan was a big fan of the Mormon welfare system, telling White House advisers once that, "You know, there is a program that comes very close to being the most ideal way dealing with those who are poor and unfortunate; and that is the Mormon Welfare Program," Winder's book says. ...
Read entire article at Salt Lake Tribune

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