Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier

Date & Time: Thursday, February 10, 2022, 4:30 p.m.
Location: Coor Hall 4403 & Zoom

Prize-winning historian Benjamin Park shares the dramatic story of Nauvoo, a town on the Mississippi River that briefly stood as the center of a religious empire. Early Mormons founded Nauvoo as a religious utopia, establishing their own army, writing a constitution and introducing polygamy — before the surrounding population violently ejected them. Park tells a captivating story while exploring timely questions such as: Are there limits to religious freedom?  Can a democracy encompass starkly opposed ways of life?  After great violence, what remains?  Using previously confidential documents Park brings to life a history of Mormonism and of the United States which had long lay hidden. 

About the speaker:

Benjamin Park studies the intersections between religion, culture and politics in America, mostly during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and often within a broader Atlantic context. In support of his research, Dr. Park has received fellowships from the University of Missouri’s Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, Boston University’s American Political History Institute, the Massachusetts Historical Society and Brigham Young University’s Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. 

His scholarship has appeared in Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Studies, Journal of American Studies, American Nineteenth Century History, Journal of Religion and Society and Journal of Mormon History. Dr. Park has been invited to speak at institutions including Oxford University, Auburn University and the College of Charelston and has delivered papers at annual conferences including the American Historical Association, American Society of Church History and the Society for United States Intellectual History.

Dr. Park’s public writing have included essays in Newsweek, Washington Post, Talking Points Memo, Dallas Morning News, Religion and Politics, Religion Dispatches, Christian Century and Patheos. He is a founder of both The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History and Juvenile Instructor: A Mormon History Blog. Dr. Park has served on editorial boards for Journal of Mormon History and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and currently serves on the executive board for the Mormon History Association as well as an associate editor of Mormon Studies Review.