Mormon Envoy

The Diplomatic Legacy of Dr. John Milton Bernhisel
Author: Bruce W. Worthen
Negotiating for the Latter-day Saints during a tumultuous era in Church history
Cloth – $125
Paper – $29.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/24/2023
Cloth: 01/24/2023
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About the Book

For more than twenty years, John Milton Bernhisel negotiated with powerful interests, including the federal government, on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bruce W. Worthen illuminates the life and work of the man whose diplomacy steered the Church’s relationship with Washington, D.C., from its early period of dangerous conflict to a peaceful and pragmatic coexistence.

Having risen from a Pennsylvania backcountry upbringing to become a respected member of the upper class, Bernhisel possessed a personal history that allowed him to reach common ground with politicians and other outsiders. He negotiated for Joseph Smith’s life and, after the Church’s relocation to the Utah Territory, took on the task of rehabilitating the public image of the Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young’s defiance of the government undermined Bernhisel’s work, but their close if sometimes turbulent relationship ultimately allowed Bernhisel to make peace with Washington, secure a presidential pardon for Young, and put Utah and the Latter-day Saints on the road to formally joining the United States.

About the Author

Bruce W. Worthen is an Independent historian who holds a doctorate in history from the University of Utah


"An erudite biography. . . . Worthen does an excellent job of tracing Bernhisel's diplomacy and highlights his efforts to reconcile the Latter-day Saints' push for autonomy with the government's concern about the potential for a Western separatist movement in the lead-up to the Civil War. " --Publishers Weekly

"Worthen's biography of Bernhisel is also an elegantly written history lesson." --Library Journal

"Worthen does an excellent job of emphasizing Bernhisel's accomplishments in Mormon Envoy." --Journal of Mormon History

"What Worthen has given readers is a candidate for 'bookshelf essential,' especially for those looking for fresh perspectives on the often-told and widely-documented early events of Restoration history. Academically impeccable, Mormon Envoy is a good yarn, and Bernhisel's unique perspective makes for a narratively fascinating vantage amidst these dueling saints and senators." --John Whitmer Historical Association Journal

"In this aptly titled and impressively researched book, Bruce W. Worthen offers a fresh perspective on the historiography of events that brought Utah into conflict with the federal government in the 1850s." --Western Historical Quarterly

"Historians strive for objectivity, honesty, and sound methodology as they work in and with the past -- but a key ingredient to all these approaches is the willingness to let these historical figures be who they were, and not who we want them to be. All in all, Mormon Envoy offers readers an important look and valuable insights into the life of John M. Bernhisel." --Association of Mormon Letters


Mormon Envoy recovers the fascinating life of John Bernhisel, a physician-turned-diplomat with unprecedented access to mid-nineteenth-century American and Latter-day Saint leaders. If you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall for pioneer-era Mormonism’s formative personalities, events, and controversies, this book is for you.”--Patrick Q. Mason, author of Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt