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Intellect

Lee Library exhibit, lecture series honors Thomas L. Kane

Friend and defender of 19th-century Mormons

A new exhibit at Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library, “In Honorable Remembrance: Thomas L. Kane and the Latter-day Saints,” will honor a man who was a great friend and defender of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in its early years. The exhibit will be available Nov. 12, 2008, through June 30, 2009.

The exhibit will feature an assortment of manuscripts, printed items and photographs from the Kane Manuscript collection in the library's L. Tom Perry Special Collections, the largest collection of Thomas L. Kane materials in the world. A series of public lectures will accompany the exhibition, sharing the details of the life of Thomas L. Kane and his contributions to the Latter-day Saints and their history.

The Thomas L. Kane Exhibition Lecture Series, which will be held in the Lee Library Auditorium on the first level, will include:

• Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 3 p.m. — William P. MacKinnon, “Thomas L. Kane and the Utah War”

• Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m. — Thomas G. Alexander, “Thomas L. Kane and the ‘Mormon Problem’ in National Politics”

• Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. — Lowell “Ben” Bennion and Thomas Carter, “Twelve Mormon Homes: Touring Utah with Elizabeth and Thomas L. Kane in 1872-73”

• Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 3 p.m. — Edward A. Geary, “Tom and Bessie Kane and the Mormons”

• Thursday, March 12, at 2 p.m. — Matthew J. Grow, “Thomas L. Kane and 19th-Century America.”

The son of a prominent Philadelphia federal judge, Thomas L. Kane had considerable political and social influence in 19th-century America. Kane’s recommendation and negotiations influenced President James K. Polk and the United States government to organize and enlist the 500-member Mormon Battalion to serve in the Mexican-American War. A personal friend of Brigham Young, Kane also served as mediator between the Church and government officials in the 1857-58 conflict now called the Utah War.

Following this conflict, Kane continued correspondence with Brigham Young and visited Utah several times to advise the Church about interactions with the federal government. The Church now maintains the Thomas L. Kane Memorial Chapel in Kane, Pa., where he is buried.

“Kane can illustrate that we have friends who did not join the Church — He was a bridge builder,” said David Whittaker, an LDS historian and curator of 19th-century Western and Mormon Manuscripts in L. Tom Perry Special Collections at BYU. “The exhibit will show our appreciation for Kane and help people understand one of the forgotten men in Church history. Kane was a friend to the Church when we did not have many.”

For more information, contact Harold B. Lee Library communications manager Roger Layton at (801) 422-6687 or roger_layton@byu.edu, or L. Tom Perry Special Collections curator David Whittaker at (801) 422-7774 or david_whittaker@byu.edu.

Writer: Brady Toone

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