EP 490 – A Look at LDS Offshoot Leader James Strang w/ Author Miles Harvey

James Strang is barely known to most Latter-day Saints, a new book, "The King of Confidence" goes into the rise and fall of this self-proclaimed monarch.

James Strang. The name means more to some and less to most. Perhaps you’ve heard this name before. Strang surfaces near the end of the Nauvoo era, later claiming he had a letter from Joseph Smith stating Strang was to lead the Church following Smith’s death.

Although most Latter-day Saints followed Brigham Young, a smaller group followed Strang, wanting a prophet to lead them and not merely what was then seen as a caretaker in Brigham.

Strang and his followers eventually settled on an island in northern Lake Michigan, where they ran a pirate ring, waffled on plural marriage, sent Strang to the Michigan state house as a representative, and eventually murdered the “King.”

Miles Harvey, author of the new book, The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch, has been kind enough to join us in the studio and elaborate a bit more on this small corner of Mormonism that you might not know as much about.

Some of the areas we get into in the episode:

  • What made Strang appealing?
  • What was it about antebellum America that made it easier for characters like Strang to rise to prominence?
  • Why was Strang obsessed with having women wear pantaloons?
  • Did Strang actually parade his secret first plural wife around as his “male cousin”?
  • Was Strang ever a threat to Brigham Young’s governorship of Utah?
  • Why did followers eventually revolt against Strang?
  • What became of Strang’s followers?

Please support Miles by picking up a copy of this terrific book. Miles will also be appearing in a virtual event sponsored by Weller Book Works in Salt Lake City on Monday, August 24. Head over to Weller’s Facebook page to participate!

Miles has even created a Spotify playlist to accompany the book, which is basically just awesome. You can read more about the playlist here.

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