Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Random Reasons Why I Like Brigham Young: Three

Random Reasons Why I Like Brigham Young: Three

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 01, 2009

My father was 86 when he passed away a few years ago. It breaks my heart to remember how, in the years before his death, he brooded over whether his life had been successful, and whether anything he had ever done was quite good enough. His World War II service, for instance, had all been stateside; it did no good to remind him that he had responded when called and had gone where he was sent – who could do more? He grieved that he had been unable to provide my brothers and me with formal education; it did no good to tell him that while we may not have achieved all we might have done, he had raised three children who did as well with our high school diplomas as many did with their college degrees.

I was reminded of my father’s fears that he had not measured up when, a few weeks ago in Sunday School, one of the good and true widowers in my class asked plaintively how he could identify the spiritual gift I had just asserted, on the strength of D&C 46:13, that each one of us had been blessed with.

Reason Three

I like Brigham Young because he understood and had compassion for old men.

That sound you hear is half my readers under 40 clicking away to something they think is more relevant. I know, it’s an odd topic, and it’s about to get weirder. But stick around anyway.

For all his physical activity in his younger years and his travels throughout his life, Brigham Young was not always a well man. His teeth were so bad that he eventually had them all pulled and used dentures; before he reached that point,  he was often sick in bed, or went about his business with what was described as a stiff face, which I presume was at least part of the time caused by abscesses. He chewed tobacco for a number of years to kill the constant pain in his jaw. He suffered from intestinal problems. He had the mumps in old age. He died of what we think was a ruptured appendix, although that diagnosis wasn’t available to his physicians.

And for at least a decade before his death, Brigham Young was under the necessity of catheterizing himself several times a day to pass the urine that would not come on its own. Think what that meant in an age before plastics and before disposable caths – his were made of lambskin and silver, and they had to be sterilized for constant reuse. He may have been ill from infections at times.

I told you this was getting weird. But it’s going to get even weirder.

Brigham was in his mid-70s when he became aware of another man, one two years older than Brigham himself, who was ill and dying from similar troubles. Who knows how he learned the details of the old man’s illness? People talked to him about everything. Brigham didn’t just send his blessings to the sufferer – although he did send them. He also had his doctor send the man a new catheter, and Brigham dictated a letter detailing the use of the thing.

It gets pretty graphic and I won’t reproduce it here, but it tells the man what he needed to know – beginning with “Draw it through the hand slightly to warm it, then oil it with consecrated oil.” Steps for insertion are included, both from a standing and a prone position. Brigham tells the man “if there is any body who can help you, it may be well to have their aid,” but he himself had been using the thing so long that “I never want any help to use mine.” He warns the man against missteps he might make, and urges him to “be patient” and “use it gently.” He concludes with a promise that “you need have no fears in using this instrument” and if he will do so, he will live. “I pray that this may have the desired effect and you may be satisfied with it.”

Presumably it did have the desired effect, because the old man lived for another full year.

That may be about the oddest letter I’ve run across in Brigham Young’s papers, but on some levels it is moving. Brigham is a man who understands the fear and suffering, and perhaps even the shame, of another old man, and he doesn’t find it beneath him to advise the sufferer, with patience and gentleness, on overcoming the difficulty of an embarrassing condition.

There’s another letter in the Brigham Young papers that I like quite a lot, although it doesn’t tell me a thing about the church, or Utah, or politics or religion or any of the topics most people would be looking for in those papers. A middle-aged man – at 55, I won’t call him old, but he was definitely feeling old, ignored, and put out to pasture – had written a lengthy letter to Brigham Young complaining that he was not accorded the respect that he deserved; nor did his neighbors listen to his wise advice with the deference he felt was owed.

In similar situations I have read Brigham Young’s pointed replies, telling his correspondents to mind their own business, to snap out of their self-pity, to get back to work. In this case, though, he seemed to sense that something else was going on and that a different tack would bring a better result. He dictated a reply in language I have otherwise never seen him use: In place of his usually terse instructions, his technique seems to be “never use one word when that word can be stretched out to ten. Or better yet, fifteen.”

He does tell his correspondent to mind his own business:

There is also a feeling, for some reason rather more common in small settlements than in large, to know somewhat more about and trouble and advise more concerning their neighbors’ affairs than their own, esteeming themselves far wiser than others esteem them, or, perhaps, much wiser than they really are, which tends continually to make affairs work more or less at cross purposes, and certainly with many ill feelings that it would seem grown up people might obtain and exercise wisdom enough to avoid.

He tells him not to take himself so seriously:

Furthermore and notwithstanding, human beings are so situated, whether in high or low altitudes, that they are very prone to esteem themselves as “some pumpkins” and their neighbors as “small potatoes and few in a hill,” when in the very great majority of the cases just addressed the direct reverse is very much nearer the truth, though it is rather a stretch of strict veracity to allege that any but a very few are in reality as yet “some pumpkins”.

He tells him to relax and not fret about things that are beyond his control:

All sublunary matters partake in a great degree of instability, change, and uncertainty, causing it to appear exceedingly strange to a reflecting person that people should so often strive to induce an extensive tempest in a tea pot, or to enlarge a mole hill into a mountain, or be in so many ways so very particular whether all straws are laid due north and south, or due east and west, or invariably in any other particular point of compass.

He tells him a great many other things in similar language – page after page after page – all of it taking thought to decipher, all of it aimed at the man to whom it is written, but without being blunt and direct. I puzzled over the oddity of this letter for a long time, and think I finally understood the gift that Brigham was giving to this man: Receiving this letter would be a great event in his life – he would treasure it, read it repeatedly, and eventually come to understand that it was directed to him far more than to the general third parties it speaks of. The letter was beautiful, something he could quote to his neighbors with pride. And it was long – very long – a letter he could show to everyone as evidence that someone – Brigham Young himself – took him seriously, consulted with him on important matters, treated him as an equal.

That was my conclusion in 2001 when I first used this letter in a paper, and it’s still the explanation I think is true these years later. In part, that is because a letter played a similar role in my father’s life. About the time my father was baptized as an adult convert, he “called” himself to document the construction of our ward’s new chapel. He walked over to the site virtually every day, taking a picture to show progress, from the sign on the ground saying “Future Home of …” to Joseph Fielding Smith entering to dedicate the completed building. This resulted in hundreds of negatives, which he asked me about one day – did I want them? I really didn’t – yes, they were a sample of one of my father’s many professional projects, but they weren’t personal or family history and not of special interest to me. I suggested that he might donate them to LDS Archives – after all, Dad’s pictures documented not only architecture and construction, but showed members nailing rafters and holding dime-a-dip supper fund raisers in the unfinished cultural hall, practices that have disappeared from LDS culture.

Dad donated the negatives – apparently the only such documentation ever deposited there – and in time received a one-page letter thanking him for his contribution. It was a routine thing on the part of the archivist who sent it – a slightly modified form letter like many he must have sent in the past. But you wouldn’t have known that from the effect it had on my father. He put that letter in a plastic sleeve to protect it. He reread it daily and mentioned it  frequently to me in our nightly phone calls. He showed it to everyone who called on him, every time they called (God bless his home teachers for their patience). You see, it was the evidence Dad needed that he had done something worthwhile in his life, something so important that the Church had written a letter to thank him for his service.

I know what that letter from Brigham Young meant to its recipient. God bless Brigham Young for his understanding of and compassion for old men.

Update: At reader request, here are links to the previous essays in this series:

Random Reasons Why I Like Brigham Young: One
Random Reasons Why I Like Brigham Young: Two



  1. Dear Ardis,
    Thanks for this. I look forward to your volumes on the letters of Brigham Young. And on your father and mother.

    I expect that your father’s photographs will someday be considered invaluable for documenting just what you have identified.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — December 1, 2009 @ 8:57 am

  2. This post has pulled so many different reactions from me, I don’t know where to begin. I’ve just experienced everything from nausea to heartache to skepticism to profound love and empathy.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 1, 2009 @ 9:03 am

  3. This is one of my favorites of all your essays. It hits the center of the target, and then it goes beyond. Your insight into the human condition makes you especially qualified to write about Brigham.

    Brigham was NOT a perfect man, but he had depths that few have recognized or written about. Thanks for seeing some of those depths.

    Comment by S.Faux — December 1, 2009 @ 9:18 am

  4. This is extraordinary. Thanks, Ardis!

    Comment by Mark B. — December 1, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  5. Amen, Matt W. (“experiencing everything from nausea to heartache to skepticism to profound love and empathy”). This is quite a moving post. Wow.

    What I love about this Brigham series is that it helps flesh out the many traits of this often-caricatured man. With his hot temper, it’s good to see Brigham’s even-keeled personality. He’s not only sharp-tongued, but also smooth and persuasive. And he’s not just intensely private about personal and family matters, Brigham’s also willing to freely share his personal catheter techniques! Oh my!

    Thank you, Ardis.

    Comment by Hunter — December 1, 2009 @ 9:40 am

  6. Absolutely beautiful. I printed this out for my husband who’s currently working his way through the Arrington book on Brigham Young. Thank you, Ardis, for this and many other lovely essays and thoughts you’ve shared.

    Comment by Researcher — December 1, 2009 @ 10:00 am

  7. I think that as I have been doing a little reading and research on Brigham Young, I’ve found that even his sharpest rebukes were targeted at helping people do better and be better. When we encounter these things in isolation and out of context, it makes Brigham Young seem more of a tyrant and less the compassionate, caring person that I believe he really was.

    He understood that he was a public person, and that his utterances and letters often took on a life of their own, and would often end up out of his own control. It would appear that while he was often impetuous and impatient, he still operated from a position of knowing that he as an imperfect leader, led a people that also were far from perfect, and that he loved dearly. I knew about the teeth problems, and that most of his last few years he was rarely feeling very well, but this is the first I had heard of the catheter story.

    As someone who is also dealing with some of the difficulties of fading youth (arthritis, trifocals, moderate hearing loss), I find his continued energy and efforts in leading the Kingdom amazing, especially during the 1870’s when his health was bad, and modern medical help really was not available to him.

    This was a very touching post on many levels, Ardis. I never know what I’m going to get in this space, but I am never disappointed.

    Comment by kevinf — December 1, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  8. Thanks for this Ardis. It’s nice to get a more rounded view of Brigham Young.

    Comment by Dan — December 1, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

  9. Think what a cool photoessay Ardis’ father’s pictures would make. My grandparents helped raise money and build our meetinghouse in Encino, California, but I’ve never seen pictures of the process. It would mean something to me.

    Comment by Johnna — December 1, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

  10. Like Matt, I rode a roller coaster reading this essay. It’s really something.

    Kevin, your talk at Sunstone Northwest (I would have said hi earlier had I known you were leaving right after) brought up questions about the difference between Brigham’s public pronouncements (regarding the weakness of certain parties) and private admonitions to those same parties. Jonathan told me that indeed, Brigham was often much more gentle in private than in public.

    But this takes it to a whole ‘nother level, Ardis. Very nice!

    Comment by Ben Pratt — December 1, 2009 @ 2:19 pm

  11. A wonderful, moving post. Thanks. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — December 1, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

  12. Thank you Ardis for such a moving post. I loved that letter for its content, but now love it more for its context. Simply splendid. The parallel with your father added a great depth.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 1, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

  13. Thank you, all, both for being willing to see some of the wonderfully warm aspects of Brigham Young’s character and for your reaction to the writing of this.

    It is admittedly a one-sided portrait, but this series is what I *like* about Brigham. There is plenty to like, nearly all of which is studiously ignored by some of the loudest dogs who masquerade as experts on Mormon history today. They’ll never get close to understanding the man as well as you and I do.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 1, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

  14. This is a remarkable piece, Ardis.

    Comment by sister blah 2 — December 1, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

  15. It is interesting to think about what life was like before painkillers and other medical commonplaces. It’s understandable that people in constant pain or discomfort were also perennialy grumpy, terse, or depressed. Thank you for this perspective on the private suffering of a great man.

    Comment by ricke — December 1, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

  16. Ardis, I love this. So much. Thank you.

    Comment by Emily M. — December 1, 2009 @ 9:52 pm

  17. Ardis, I enjoyed this for all the reasons others have stated. I was also struck by your father’s disappointment in serving stateside. My father served stateside in both WWII and the Korean War and felt, like your dad, that he had not done enough. I wonder if that was a common reaction. It is far more generous than we might at first glance expect people to be.

    Comment by Molly Bennion — December 1, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

  18. What a wonderful post. I really needed to hear this.

    Comment by Nate Brown — December 1, 2009 @ 10:48 pm

  19. Ardis, now this has made me cry. Thank you.

    Comment by Tracy M — December 2, 2009 @ 12:26 am

  20. This is great.

    Where can I find reasons 1 and 2?

    Comment by Antonio Parr — December 2, 2009 @ 5:02 am

  21. Great post. I wonder whether appendicitis is likely here–statistically more likely that he died of urinary infection or bladder rupture if he had prostatic hypertrophy that necessitated straight-cathing for years. And I love the touch of consecrated oil–I suspect Stapley and Wright have already made note of it for their work.

    Comment by smb — December 2, 2009 @ 5:48 am

  22. Wow Ardis, I knew you had ascended above all things Brigham, and now you have descended below all things Brigham, that we may all be in and through all things Brigham! President Kimball got a lot of good will due to our empathy for him through his physical trials. President Young with his toothaches and catheter surely inspire a similar feeling. Thanks for helping us better appreciate the man behind the (as we suppose, sometimes) gruff voice.

    Comment by Rob — December 2, 2009 @ 6:25 am

  23. Wonderful.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — December 2, 2009 @ 6:45 am

  24. An excellent essay. Thanks.

    Comment by Amy — December 2, 2009 @ 7:18 am

  25. One of the best ‘Nacle blog posts I’ve ever read.

    Thank you Ardis for thinking this out and writing this out. So much insight about an important person is packed into these paragraphs. I also like how you relate this to your own father and use that to provide additional insights.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Comment by danithew — December 2, 2009 @ 8:15 am

  26. By the way, if you don’t mind me saying so – it might be helpful to give links in the post (or at the end of the post) to the previous essays you wrote on the same subject (of appreciating Brigham Young). Reading this made me want to go back and read the others.

    Comment by danithew — December 2, 2009 @ 8:16 am

  27. Aww, I like seeing all those lines in the “Recent Comments” box with the names of readers declaring “I like Brigham Young”! (Yeah, I know I rigged it that way, but I still like it!) Thanks for your kind comments.

    Antonio, to find earlier Keepa posts, you can always go to the “Topical Guide” link in the upper left-hand corner, which will take you to a listing of all Keepa posts. That would give you links to Reason One and Reason Two.

    smb, most historians — with the notable exception of the creative writer Sam Taylor who fantastically thought Brigham had been murdered by the deliberate poisoning of his sugar bowl — seem to have settled on appendicitis after considering the recorded symptoms. I haven’t collected material on that, though, so am not prepared with citations. “Brigham’s Deathbed” could make quite an interesting post — I’ll see what I can put together (but don’t watch for that in the immediate future).

    Thank you, all, for reading and commenting — this was a wonderful set of comments to wake up to.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 2, 2009 @ 8:18 am

  28. danithew, good idea. I’ll go back and post links at the end of the text.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 2, 2009 @ 8:19 am

  29. Hello Ardis,
    I remember Sam Taylor telling me about his inclusion of the ‘Brigham was poisoned’ theory while writing his grandfather’s biography, “The Kingdom or Nothing”. I asked him about what led him to such a conclusion and he said it was the result of asking three forensic physicians after giving them a copy of comtemporary quotations of several individuals who were present and/or treated Brigham during his last illness. Sam made it a point to omit anything that would identify who the individual was other than to say that it was a nineteenth century American. Based on the symtoms and the progression of the illness all three concluded that he was very likely poisoned since his symtoms and the progression of the illness exactly mirrored that of poisoning. I believe that the agent was supposed to be arsenic administered over time. I just wanted to clarify this point because when I first heard Sam tell me about it, I did ask him what was the basis for that claim. After publication, Sam did make inquiries here in Utah looking for individuals who might have a sample of Brigham’s hair taken from his hairbrush. He hoped to find enough hair to have it tested to find out if that was really the case. He found people who had a clippings of Brigham’s hair, but none with the follicles in place. Napoleon’s hair underwent a similar test and it proved that the French Emperor had been the victim of arsenic poisoning. Thus Sam’s claim does sound ‘fantastic’ but it was not something he just pulled out of his hat. Incidentally, he left all his papers to the U. of U.’s Special Collections department, so I would assume the doctors statements would be among them.

    Comment by Velikiye Kniaz — December 2, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  30. Velikiye, I’m skeptical of Sam Taylor’s claims in all things historical. His claim about poisoning, for instance, is partly based on his assertion that poison was placed in the sugar bowl because Brigham Young was the ONLY member of the household who was allowed to eat the expensive sugar — a ridiculous assertion on its face, and demonstrably wrong when you look at the household accounts and consider how many pounds of sugar Brigham would have had to eat every day in order to consume as much as the household bought. Sam is also the origin of the fable tht Brighm Young and John Taylor were at odds, even hated each other. It’s a stretch to interpret anything in the record as supporting that; I could rally scores of documents evidencing warm friendship between the two, and John Taylor’s unwavering support of his file leader, even on private occasions when his support would not possibly have been a matter of public relations. I’ve gone through Sam Taylor’s papers at the U; although they are useful in some ways (he had access to LDS Archives’s John Taylor papers that are not now open), his transcriptions are highly selective, and his his papers don’t contain documentary support for some of his best known assertions; if he did in fact consult reliable doctors — a claim I’m skeptical of, although I know he made that claim — their opinions appear to have been given verbally or not preserved among his papers.

    I’m sorry I mentioned Sam and threadjacked my own post.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 2, 2009 @ 9:41 am

  31. Ben,

    Sorry I missed meeting you at Sunstone NW. I was reminded of Brigham’s public pronouncements this week while reading Dale Morgan’s The Great Salt Lake which contains a fair amount of early church history. He quotes Brigham Young during the time that the exodus from Nauvoo was going on, where he had some fairly critical words for folks who were not moving as rapidly to leave as he thought prudent. If I remember, I’ll dig it out tonight and post it here. Again, another public rebuke that certainly was meant to help people do what he felt was best for them in the end.

    Comment by kevinf — December 2, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  32. kevinf, you’ve just given me an idea for another post in this series. Thanks! (Not precisely what you’ve outlined here, but related to it — go ahead and post here when you find the quotation you’re thinking of.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 2, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  33. Ardis, I’d be interested to see the actual descriptions of his decline. Infection from the urinary tract can be slowly progressive, in fact generally is more slowly progressive than appendicitis, though appendicitis can occasionally smolder. I think it got sort of “cool” to call everything appendicitis because it didn’t enter the Western nosologies until ~1890, but that fun fact doesn’t mean that every death from sepsis associated with abdominal discomfort is the result of appendicitis.

    My favorite story of arsenic “poisoning” is Elmer McCurdy, Oklahoma’s tragic son.

    incidentally, for those of us interested in health/body/etc, are you comfortable sharing the actual citation to this fascinating letter?

    Comment by smb — December 2, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

  34. I’d like your modern take on the symptoms. I don’t have the sources handy but will send them to you when I can. Thanks!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 2, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

  35. Isn’t one of the problems with gradual arsenic poisoning that the body builds up resistance if the poison is administered gradually enough. And eventually one person’s fatal dose has no effect on the person with the resistance.

    I think there was a Lord Peter Wimsey story where the murderer and victim both ate the same omelette, drank the same wine, etc., and he solved the crime when he tested some hair clippings from the murderer and found that he had high levels of arsenic in his system.

    Sorry for yet another threadjack.

    Comment by Mark B. — December 2, 2009 @ 8:02 pm

  36. You’re thinking of Iocaine powder, Mark B.

    Comment by smb — December 2, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  37. Just last year I had to send arsenic levels on the basis of an accusation of poisoning (they were negative). A friend had seen a case some years previously. Mostly it’s an expensive urine test we send when there’s a confusing disease and someone is convinced that someone else is trying to kill the patient. Incidentally if this is your thing, after reading about Elmer McCurdy, you should curl up with Lanchester’s absolutely delicious novel The Debt to Pleasure.

    Comment by smb — December 2, 2009 @ 9:18 pm

  38. 35 Yes, Strong Poison, wherein we meet the lovely Harriet Vane. I do love Dorothy Sayers. And Keepapitchinin, so this isn’t a complete threadjack.

    Comment by crazywomancreek — December 2, 2009 @ 9:58 pm

  39. Heh, crazywomancreek. Good one.

    Comment by Hunter — December 3, 2009 @ 12:50 am

  40. Whatever “locaine powder” is, I am sure I wasn’t thinking of it–at least not consciously–since I don’t recall ever hearing of it.

    What did Miss Sayers call it in her story, crazywomancreek? You obviously have a much better memory of the tale than I do.

    Comment by Mark B. — December 3, 2009 @ 7:16 am

  41. Great post Ardis — what did you tell the widower in your class?

    As with most of the previous commenters, I also appreciated this perspective of Brigham Young. Thanks for taking the time to flesh out your thoughts on this topic and for relating it to the letter your own father received.

    Comment by john f. — December 3, 2009 @ 7:43 am

  42. john f, I opened that up to the class for ideas. We got the expected “pray about it” Sunday School answers, but I liked best what one class member said about thinking back over his life and identifying moments or actions that had brought him the greatest satisfaction, even if they were little moments that wouldn’t seem extraordinary in the eyes of anybody else. There was probably a pattern to those moments, and if he would think about them while reading over the scriptural list of spiritual gifts (even though that list isn’t exhaustive, it IS suggestive), he might recognize a gift he has been exercising all along.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 3, 2009 @ 8:03 am

  43. Ardis:

    Thanks for this and thanks for explaining the problems with Sam Taylor’s assumptions. I had the task of doing that one year at MHA and was not received very well by Taylor’s followers. Also Brigham Young was attended in his last illness by well trained doctors including his nephew, Seymour B. Young. These doctors, including two non Mormons, would have know if he had been poisoned.

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — December 3, 2009 @ 9:25 am

  44. Thanks, Jeff. I enjoyed listening this afternoon to your response at the 1986 Sunstone Symposium.

    Comment by Justin — December 3, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

  45. Ardis,

    I found my other Brigham Young quote I referred to in my #31, but got in a hurry this morning and left it at home. Here is the basic quote, as I best recall, as the Saints were preparing to leave Nauvoo:

    “I have told the Saints where to gather, and even if we are all dispersed, they know where to go. I want you to go now. When the Lord commands, he wants no arguments. I want no arguments, even if I am dead and in Hell.”

    Part of the problem with the quote is that Dale Morgan, while writing an interesting book, provides no footnotes or direct references for his facts, just a general bibliography. It makes it hard to establish exactly where and to who the statement was made.

    However, I can see Brigham Young being pretty direct in his public pronouncements, yet doing everything he could to help people get moved out.

    Jeff, one might take issue with the statement about “well trained doctors” in 1877. Medicine was still way more of an art than a science at that point, and not a very good art. Brigham Young himself said on at least one occasion that observing the Word of Wisdom was better than any doctor he had ever seen, and he felt better off without them.

    Iocaine powder? Inconceivable!

    Comment by kevinf — December 3, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

  46. Seymour B. Young received his medical degree from the University Medical College of New York in the fall of 1874. He had studied in New York from 1871 to 1874. Before he left for New York he had studied with Salt Lake City doctors including Dr. W. F. Anderson and with both Drs. Benedict. All three were trained in medical schools in the East before their arrival in Utah. Things had changed from the time Brigham Young was talking about doctors in the 1850s by the 1870s.

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — December 3, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

  47. Another of the reasons I like Brigham Young is that he allowed himself to learn and adapt and change his opinions when he was presented with adequate information. His acceptance of modern medical techniques is one example of that. I’ve written about one incident that caused him to recognize that medicine had advanced far beyond the well-intentioned quckery of the past, in The Surgeon and Brigham Young. It would be a mistake to think that some of his anti-doctor rhetoric of the 1850s represented his views later in life — as Jeff says, medicine had come a long, long way, and so had he.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 4, 2009 @ 3:29 am

  48. Excellent, Ardis! I hadn’t seen the older post “The Surgeon and Brigham Young” before. Thanks for the link. What a cool article, and great comments, too.

    Some of my own in-laws have a tendency to mistrust “modern” medicine and are overly sympathetic to what I would deem quackery. I’m sure one day they will thank me for sharing “The Surgeon” post with them. [smirk]

    [ending threadjack]

    I can’t wait for the next installment of reasons why you like ol’ Brigham. This is a wonderful series.

    Comment by Hunter — December 4, 2009 @ 10:53 am

  49. Funny how it’s always the “in-laws.” :-)

    Comment by Mark B. — December 4, 2009 @ 11:15 am

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