Levi S. Peterson describes Juanita Brooks's efforts to get John D. Lee's temple blessings restored.

Levi S. Peterson

Levi S. Peterson, Juanita Brooks : Mormon Woman Historian (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1988), 284

University of Utah Press
Levi S. Peterson
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The biography culminated a restitution of John D. Lee on which Juanita had worked for nearly two decades. One is reminded that she was a tragedian as well as a biographer and historian. As she had cast him, Lee surpassed even Joseph Smith as a tragic personality, not simply because the Prophet's martyrdom had with time taken on a triumphant color but because Lee more closely fit a classical pattern of tragedy. He was more than the victim of disloyal friends and unfortunate circumstances, whereby his labors were frustrated, his life cut short, and his name handed down in ignominy. A good man who had committed an evil deed, he was, like many tragic figures of literature, the victim of his own flawed character. He had hungered after righteousness yet had assented to the massacre of the innocent. Lee's exile, trial, and execution gave his life a dramatic climax. Juanita's life had no such dramatic structure. Her existence, like that of most people, peaked momentarily and then went on in its mundane fashion. If there was a single summit year in Juanita's life, it was 1961. If there were summit moments in that year, they occurred on June 13 and July 8 when she courageously confronted Elder Stapley and the assembled Lees and insisted that for a complete catharsis, the century old tragedy required the publication of the posthumous restoration of John D. Lee to full and honorable status in the church he had loved so much. Time quickly proved that her instinct was right. Many of the reviewers alluded with sincere satisfaction to the reinstatement. Perhaps their affirmative response disarmed the potential criticism of the general authorities, for as Juanita had predicted, the Church did not rescind the reinstatement, nor did it bring disciplinary action against her.

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