'My Eyes Were Holden in Those Days' : A Study of Selective Memory
The William E. McLellin Papers, 1854-1880
Salt Lake City, Utah
Of all [the McLellin Collection]'s documents from 1854 onward, the 1878 letter to John Traughber deserves the most attention as one of the more personally revealing and historically accurate writings. Composed less than five years before his death in 1883, it and another letter to Traughber in January 1879 stand almost alone in acknowledging McLellin's former faith in the religious teachings and activities of Joseph Smith Jr., the founding prophet of Mormonism.
And there lies the crux of the matter because McLellin, as an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle, cannot be dismissed as someone who did not know what he was talking about. Even if readers recoil at his criticisms, he was nonetheless present at many of the crucial events in early LDS history.
My analysis has this perspective on McLellin's perspective: he conveniently edited himself out of scenes he later came to despise. This is not to say there is not some truth in what he chose to report, at least from his later perspective, only that the passage of time and a healthy ego tended to accentuate his own virtue and cast others as definite villains. [From the text]