The anniversary of Shelby Foote’s death has just passed us and the Fourth of July is almost upon us.
When he died I wrote that he taught me to be both a Mormon and an American, conqueror and conquered alike. I’ve been thinking about that lately (thanks to the Volokh Conspiracy and the 4th), and about something Nate Oman said about the end of polygamy. I realized that we Saints treat the United States’ victory in its struggle with the Saints not just as a setback but as a providential revelation of God’s will through the unfolding of history. We aren’t biding our time to get back to polygamy and our desert kingdom. We’ve embraced Western marriage and America and capitalism and all the rest.
There are precedents. The Assyrians were not God’s people but God worked through them to guide and instruct his people. I do not believe that Deseret and polygamy and the United Orders were sins or mistakes, but I accept the verdict of the God of victories. I have pledged my loyalty to the American nation many times and taken an oath to the Constitution and its government on three solemn occasions. That loyalty is firm and those oaths are unbroken and I believe it pleases God that it be so.