John Henry Smith (1848-1911) served as a Mormon apostle for thirty years--1880 to 1910--and a counselor in the First Presidency until his death the next year. In addition to religious obligations, he was a major stockholder and officer of several prominent businesses--everything from U & I Sugar to the Co-op Wagon and Machinery Company, as well as the Saltair Beach and Salt Lake Theater Company. Politically he helped found Utah's Republican Party. Following his controversial election to the state constitutional convention, which was accomplished through the help of zealous supporters who stuffed ballot boxes, he served as president of the convention. Although a polygamist, he testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections, where he equivocated on the question of post-1890 polygamy.
Loyal yet independent, Smith's comments on the inner workings of the LDS hierarchy are especially candid. "I was somewhat surprised to see the president attempt to bull down the council after giving them liberty to speak," he recorded, "but he will find such talk will never hold the present council in awe." He also documents the excommunication of Apostle Albert Carrington for adultery, the release of Apostle Moses Thatcher for political differences and for morphine addiction, and the excommunication of Apostle John W. Taylor and suspension of Apostle Matthias Cowley for unsanctioned polygamy. He relates how church ownership of Zion's Savings Bank led to interest-free loans and deferred payments for high-ranking church leaders to prevent financial embarrassment for themselves and the church.
Best Documentary Book Award, Mormon History Association