“It is difficult one hundred years after the war to evaluate some of the other factors which were said to have shared in its origin. Partisan controversy had become so bitter that reckless charges against men in political life were made with irresponsible frequency. . . .
Thus in 1858 two newspapers accused Buchanan of being less concerned with the Saints than with the dream of seizing Sonora and other parts of Mexico. . . . [But] by no statement or action did the President at any time display designs on land lying southwest of the nation. . . .
Another explanation of the Mormon War . . . centered upon [Secretary of War] John B. Floyd and concerned the growing rift between the North and South. . . . Fearing a Republican victory in the 1860 election, they were determined, it would seem, to bankrupt the treasury by a costly expedition to Utah and thus leave the North financially incapable of opposing secession. . . . [This explanation] appears to draw its strength from two coincidental circumstances, Floyd’s enthusiastic advocacy of the Utah expedition and his later support of the South in the Civil War. Such reasoning uses guilt by chronological association. . . .
To some observers, Gentile and Mormon, the Utah War was less a secessionists’ plot than a vast boondoggling scheme on the part of John B. Floyd and certain businessmen. Even before the hostilities in utah had been pacifically settled, the incident became known as the ‘Contractors’ War.’ . . .
Another consideration, irrelevant to the formulation of a sound policy toward Utah, may be mentioned as a possible factor in the origins of the Mormon War. . . . Buchanan received a communication from a Southern leader proposing a way to divert the American people from their perilous absorption with slavery. . . .’I believe that we can supersede the Negro-Mania with the almost universal excitements of an Anti-Mormon Crusade.
The intrusion of these irrelevant elements should not becloud the fact that one major cause of the war was the Administration’s conviction of Mormon rebelliousness. The Church’s expulsion of such officers as Burr, Drummond, and Stiles, its efforts to overthrow the federal judicial system, and its Indian policy all seemed evidences of riotous disposition which could not be tolerated without weakening the fabric of the Union.”