Utah and Its People
Utah and its People
FACTS AND STATISTICS BEARING ON THE “MORMON PROBLEM.”
“One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.” — GEO. WASHINGTON.
BY A GENTILE [ Dyer D. Lum ]
Utah and its People
FACTS AND STATISTICS BEARING ON THE “MORMON PROBLEM.”
BY A GENTILE
Thirty-five years ago a band of emigrants entered Salt Lake Valley and there, on what was then foreign soil and a barren desert far from civilization, they proposed to settle. There was no settlement of white men near and they found but a few naked Indians making a meal from a pint of roasted crickets or dried grasshoppers. The few trappers they met laughed at the idea of a colony subsisting in such a region, and expressed grave doubts whether grain would mature. The well known mountaineer, James Bridger, was so sanguine that the task was impossible one that he offered to give us a thousand dollars for the first ear of corn raised in the valley!
To-day on this soil then considered barren beyond redemption there has been raised an average of 73 ½ bushels of grain to the acre; wheat yields 61 bushels; oats 88 bushels! All over the Territory similar cases can be cited, and this, it must be borne in mind is the product of land still susceptible of much higher cultivation. The dreary wastes of alkaline plains and sage brush have given place to blooming orchards; the wigwam has been supplanted by a flourishing city; and pleasant cottages and comfortable homes dot this whole Territory. Who and what were the people who have accomplished this seeming herculean task?
Now, in the first place, let me say that I do not believe that this could have been accomplished by individual effort, that settlers isolated from each other, without mutual aid and assistance, would never have undertaken so great a task, and could not have accomplished it. The obstacles to overcome were too great; nature presented too forbidding an aspect to permit of this great conquest having resulted from the unorganized and undirected labors of isolated settlers. To cross those dreary wastes, to found a home far beyond the most distant settlements among savages, to achieve so signal a conquest over rugged nature was beyond the power of guerrilla warfare to perform; there was needed the unifying element of a religious faith welding individual interests together and forming closer social ties.
We give credit for sincerity to the bigoted Puritans, to the French Hugenots, to the followers of the Catholic Lord Baltimore, when they sought to found homes on this continent; but for men who in the face of far greater difficulties and undergoing a persecution equally as relentless as any from which our forefathers fled, we are content to shrug our shoulders, and with a sneer say, fraud and superstition.
Let us look at this wondrous and most successful “fraud” with dispassionate eyes—if we can—first as a religion, then as a social system, and finally at its peculiar institution—polygamy.
THE PROPHET JOSEPH
The character of Joseph Smith need not detain us. We have to deal with a religious and social system now existing nearly forty years after Smith’s death; though we might well doubt whether a man who became confessedly a successful banker was such an ignoramus that “he could not tell a pewter quarter from a good one;” might well doubt whether a man was altogether a knave whose prophetic pretensions were first acknowledged by his most immediate relatives; might well doubt whether if he were such a man that those who knew him best retained till their death, and some now living still retain, unbounded faith in him and love for him, and find that faith easier because they knew him; might well doubt whether great religious movements are over the work of men whose highest ambition is exhibited in the low cunning that would “fill a pork barrel” at another’s expense! The intelligent man—no! I beg pardon—the man who before an intelligent community would to-day undertake to explain the rise of Mohametanism by calling Mohamet a conscious fraud, would, at once, be classed by all persons of culture as narrow minded. Our descendants will apply the same rule to this problem, and though they might smile at the simple faith of the Mormons, will none the less smile at our credulity in believing that a knave became the spiritual leader of tens of thousands; that a man without executive ability or administrative capacity became the founder of a city! To myself the whole story of the origin of Mormonism, as generally related, is equally as miraculous as that related by the Saints themselves.
Men who never read the Book of Mormon tell us that it was a novel, that a book received by hundreds of thousands as God’s word was originally written as a romance, and yet not one of them reading it as a romance would ever read it half through. I should as soon expect to see Swedenborg’s works published in serial form to compete for fame with the “Haut-Boy’s Revenge!”
Joseph Smith had two confidants Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdrey. Rigdon never went across the plains; he quarreled with the Church because it failed to give him the promotion he thought his merits deserved, and left it and went to Western New York, where a few years since he was still living. He became very penurious and repeatedly wrote to the Mormons for money, on one occasion demanding one hundred thousand dollars, and in his rage at their refusal denounced them and predicted their early overthrow. But I never heard of his strengthening his attack by any confession of the alleged fraud, or exposing Mormonism by telling the world that he had supplied them with a manuscript novel, stolen from its author, and which had become the received Word of God to men in nearly every great country on the face of the earth.
So with Cowdrey; he was a man of education, far more so than Rigdon; he acted as Joseph Smith’s secretary, giving to his thoughts literary precision. But he left them at Nauvoo and apostatized. Mormons freely admit Smith’s lack of culture and his indebtedness to his secretary, but this secretary made no confession of fraud. On the contrary, he subsequently repented, following his brethren across the plains, was rebaptized, and, like Peter, with deep contrition professed faith in the doctrines he had denied, finally dying in after years while on a mission preaching at his own expense—as do all Mormon Missionaries—the New Gospel.
These are facts. Let us look at them squarely and remember that neither Christianity nor Liberalism forbids our being honest.
The establishment of the Church of the Latter Day Saints has fully illustrated the truth of the old adage, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church!” Driven forth from the East they had gone to Ohio and there thought to found the New Jerusalem. From there they were again driven out and took up their line of march to Missouri. They had now journeyed eight hundred miles—in the American Republic—to find a place where they could worship God according to their belief. Their houses burned and their property destroyed; some beaten with hickory goads, others tarred and feathered; many of their families massacred; their wives and children seeking shelter in the forests without food, raiment, or friends; they were again forced to flee. Missourian prejudice against Free-State settlers, joined to religious animosity, fanned human passion to a white heat, and they were pursued with almost Indian ferocity. The President, Martin Van Buren, quailing before the vote of Missouri, told them that he could do nothing for them, though admitting that their case was just.
Four hundred miles of a new pilgrimage brought them to Nauvoo, where they founded a city, built a temple and displayed a public spirit worthy of admiration whatever we may think of its basis. Here again they were subjected to continual persecution, and at last were told by State official that they had better leave as they could not be protected against the mob, which, with blackened faces, hounded on by a Christian minister, had murdered Smith and others. Then they undertook that wonderful passage across the plains, sacrificing wealth and property for a conviction, and even in their flight having to give, on demand from the government, which did not protect them, a battalion of five hundred men for the Mexican war, leaving the women under the necessity in some cases of driving teams, besides watching over the little one and preparing the fugal meals upon which the subsisted. Sacrificing their property, submitting to hardships and privations of no common kind, with a great desert to traverse with their wives and children, with their aged, their sick and infirm, giving the main strength of their encampment to the service of the government,—a battalion consisting nine-tenths of Mormon elders,—leaving their wives and children exposed to the savages that surrounded them, these misguided followers of a “fraud” turned from civilization to the haunts of the Indian. Remember that through all this persecution there was no institution of polygamy to excite popular hatred; it was Christian bigotry facing a new religion, and modern “liberalism” sneering at a new superstition.
Many of the old men still living in Utah passed through those stormy days. Brigham Young was baptized in 1832; all these trials and tribulations were part of his life-experience. So, too, John Taylor, his successor, the present head of the church. Taylor had stood in Missouri and seen their houses burnt, their property pillaged, their most sacred convictions outraged. He had seen among others martyred to the blind rage of opposition an old revolutionary soldier, a Mr. McBride, who, with feeble frame and tottering steps, unable to run, had cried in vain:—“Spare my life, I am a revolutionary soldier. I fought for liberty. Would you murder me? What is my offense? I believe in God and revelation!” “Take that, you G—d d—d Mormon,” was the reply of the Missourian, as with the butt of his gun he dashed out his brains, and left him a mangled corpse at his feet as he turned to continue his work of crushing superstition. Again at Nauvoo John Taylor had stood in that jail where in violation of plighted faith, and himself wounded, he had seen his Prophet basely murdered while making the Masonic sign of distress, and had heard his dying words: “My Lord and God!”
With this experience have they in turn become illiberal, bigoted, persecutors? We shall see.
In 1830 Smith had six followers, all of his own kin. In 1837, missionaries appeared in England; in 1840, in Australia; in 1841, in Palestine; in 1843, in the Pacific Islands; in 1849, in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy; in 1850, in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Sandwich Islands; in 1852, in Siam and Ceylon; in 1853, in Gibralter, Malta, Hindostan, China, West Indies, South Africa, and British Guinea; and at the present time may be found in Utah inhabitants of every country in Europe, many of those of South America, and from Hindostan, Burmah, China, Cape Colony, Natal, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and Sandwich, Society and Navigators Islands, together with negroes and Indians, all united in one common belief.
Let us now transport ourselves to Utah and see the outward working of this modern theocracy. Of its secret rites, its esoteric doctrines, I say nothing because I know nothing thereof. I have heard much alleged, but I prefer to judge the tree by its fruit. I bear in mind that Christians in their secret rites made meals from roast baby, and that Liberals of that day who scorned all superstition believed it. I can but say what I saw and what I think from the facts learned while in Utah.
OUR SOCIAL ANARCHY
I visited Utah in 1879 in an official capacity, and though my stay was not a very extended one, it was long enough to dispel the cloud of prejudice in which my mind had long been befogged. I knew little or nothing of Mormonism beyond current stories, and I tried to utilize my time at getting at facts, more particularly in studying Mormonism as a social system. As what we see depends largely upon the eyes through which we see, it may not be amiss to here briefly describe the spirit in which I undertook my investigation.
Here in the East I had seen what I believed to be the slow disintegration of the Christian faith as once generally held. On the one side a portion, the Catholic, making Christianity the outgrowth of our emotional nature almost exclusively and thereby, even if unintentionally, neglecting the intellectual, professedly caring more for moral than intellectual and material development. On the other side, the Protestants, in different degrees, seeking to support themselves on reason, arrogating to themselves the character of progressive Christians, pointing with pride to material development as their work, to the wealth of Protestant nations, and thus, in effect, more and more neglecting the emotional side of our natures; its extreme left wing, the Infidels, posing as intellectual gladiators and quietly assuming that intellectual development and progress were identical.
This divorce between Head and Heart in modern society, has for three hundred and fifty years, because more and more marked. We have had a school of criticism professing to be a religion; based on negative assertions, coldly critical and analytic in its procedure, and delighting in reveling in philosophical abstractions rather than in the concrete facts of social life. Society has felt its baneful influence and become converted into a thousand sects fighting over barren negations of no human interest. More, a spirit of disintegration has been introduced pure individualism, or egoism, has been developed until its outcome is seen in the prevalent economic relations, wherein private ends override the social, and the individual grasps at power to enrich self at the common expense.
I had learned to look upon the study of the universe, that is knowledge, science, as valuable only as it tends directly or indirectly to influence human life and conduct, and that when the influence of social feeling is wanting, science may become even retrograde and destructive. In other words, that knowledge is valueless when pursued for itself alone, where science is confined to distinct and disconnected specialties, where there is not a complete union of Head and Heart in which the emotions consecrate the intellect and intellectual development keeps pace with moral aims.
From our intellectual discord and more disintegration, I turned to gaze upon a society presenting features as strange as if it had been the outgrowth of a different civilization; one in which an effort had been made to unite feeling, reason and activity and have them alike converge to constitute a religion which should present a complete synthesis of life; a religion proceeding from the Protestant Church, accepting its fundamental dogmas, admitting in the same sense the right of private judgment, yet resulting in a social system that rivaled in power, in the development of social feeling and the curbing of that vice in Protestantism—individualism,—the Catholic Church in its palmiest days. In a word, bringing into harmonious accord those heretofore conflicting elements, the individualism of the Protestant and the social unity of the Catholic Church.
This may seem extravagant. Let us, however, appeal to the facts. At a time when all professors of political economy confidently assume to be the representatives of the future, because they lay bare the laws governing the production of wealth and point our the conditions of material prosperity, it is well worth while stopping to consider a civilization in which the exaltation of material wealth is not the chief end of man.
We have heard much of Mormon theocracy, of the despotic powers exercised by Mormon high priests, and have been told that the Mormon Church allow the struggling farmer to get established for the purpose of securing the result of his labors. We hear it gravely asserted that when the farmer is rejoicing in abundance and prosperity, a long bill is presented to him by the bishop, in which there is footed up everything advanced him from his passage money down to a loaf of bread, or a glass of milk, given to him in the hour of need, and that he is now expected to acknowledge the debt and hand himself and his savings over to the church; to become its serf. Let us examine the charges.
One of the features in the Mormon Church which struck me most forcibly is its apparent democracy. Twice every year, on April 6, and October 6, the Mormons come from far and near to assemble in semi-annual conference in the great Tabernacle which will hold comfortably 12,000 people, and when filled uncomfortably, by taking up all the standing room, 15,000. Travelers relate meeting ox-teams in distant canons headed toward “Zion,” in which will be, perhaps, some lone old woman with a scant stock of meal and bacon, making a one, two, or three week’s journey “to get her soul warmed up” at the Conference.
At these Conferences, lasting from four days to a week, every woman has a vote; male and female, humble believer and dignitary, meet on a common footing—having equal rights. At these conferences, and mark this well, very officer in the church including Brigham Young, in his day, and John Taylor now, has to be re-elected to each and every position they hold. It may be said that this is but a mere form; that the Head of the Church is recognized as infallible and dictates his own election and that of his subordinates.
As long as there is perfect confidence in the First Presidency and the Twelve we should naturally expect that their nominations would be heartily ratified. But here is a provision by which the Church itself can curb any of its officers, even to its head, whenever there is a forfeiture of public approval by a departure from the lines laid down by the usage and the collective Church. Again, in a religion founded upon a conscious fraud, where those in authority are only seeking preferment and honors, where profit or ambition can alone be regarded as a motives to action, how is it that there never has been a falling out amongst these clever rogues? You cannot understand it? Of course not, oh ye of little faith!
Let me say right here that Brigham Young never claimed infallibility nor was it conceded to him. True, he was regarded as a prophet, though in a lesser degree than Smith, that is, he was looked upon as a person possessing those spiritual qualities rendering him a fit channel or instrument for divine revelation. When the Church was expelled from Nauvoo and Young was called to the presidency, he had a “revelation,” one received and acknowledged then and to-day. But never once from the day Brigham Young set foot on Utah soil to his death did he ever assume to give to the Church a written revelation of God’s will. If he had done so it would undoubtedly have been received in full faith, but with this unlimited confidence in him, in all the dark days through which they had passed, when they were preparing to burn every vestige of their civilizing work and retreat to Mexico, leaving their land another Moscow for the vandal forces who were seeking their ruin; or in the days of brightest hopes when their future seemed fair and rosy I defy any one to produce a single line purporting to be a revelation emanating from, by or through, Brigham Young. To those who believe him to have been a conscious fraud I commend this fact. Come, now, be honest, how do you account for it? For myself I can see less difficulty in believing that Brigham Young was as sincere a believer in that one supposed revelation as any of his followers. I entertain no belief in modern spiritism, yet I believe the “inspirational medium” honest, and there is no reason for denying to Brigham Young the sincerity we cheerfully concede to Mrs. Nellie T. J. Brigham, however much we may dissent from their respective philosophies.
It may be said that Brigham Young always had a verbal revelation ready to confirm his wishes. There is a wide-spread misapprehension of what inspiration is in Mormon philosophy. Stated broadly inspiration is one of the characteristic privileges of the Mormon priesthood, all sharing in it from the head to the humblest elder. John Taylor, as President of the Church, has no monopoly of the channels of inspiration. We can easily understand this; the Christian clergyman here believes and teaches that God is “an ever-present help” and answers those who seek him. He urges his people to take their troubles to God, and from his pulpit seeks the divine guidance, and then in almost the same breath will speak with contempt of the Mormon who is guided by “revelation!” But this is different, you urge. It is not different. The Mormon inspiration, or verbal “revelation,” in no way differs from what is taught from every Christian pulpit, a reliance upon God, and the Mormon reads God’s will in his conscience precisely as the Christian does. The Christian “wrestling in prayer” over a doubtful policy to pursue and taking his matured convictions as an answer thereto, is doing just what the Mormon does, and the clergyman who indulges in sarcastic references to Mormon faith in special “revelations,” or Brigham Young’s “impressions,” is but a re-mouthing the infidel argument which bears equally hard upon himself. On no other ground can the unity of Mormon leaders be explained, and the wonderful scenes attending Brigham Young’s “impressions” was certainly not calculated to weaken faith.
INSPIRATION AND COMMON SENSE
When the United States army was marching on Utah in 1857, on what has since been officially recognized as false information and a causeless pretext, and its soldiers were singing ribald songs of the pleasures awaiting them when in possession of “Mormon harems,” every arrangement was made to evacuate the Territory and cross over to Mexico. Tinder was sent into every settlement to burn every house and preparations were made to cut every irrigating ditch and destroy every improvement. Let the work of irrigation cease and Utah would very soon be again but a dreary waste—a desert. In 1870, when the Government made a spasmodic attempt to suppress polygamy by means of packed juries, when Brigham Young, Geo. Q. Cannon and Gen. Wells were arrested under Mormon law for adultery with their wives, the opinion was general among the leading men that the arrest of Young would lead to a rising and they counseled flight. But no! Although the outlook was dark Brigham Young gave the Church no “revelation,” but saying that God who had led them this far would protect them still, quietly went to jail where he remains, though any amount of bail was offered. And right here it might be well to call to mind the fact that the keeper of the military post where Gen. Wells was confined used to call upon him to say grace at his table!
Geo. Alfred Townsend, writing in 1870, said:
Except for the good counsel prevailing among the Mormons and the control Brigham Young has over these people, the $70,000,000 of real and personal property here, the accumulations of twenty-two years, might to-day have been ashes and desert, and the suppositious mineral wealth in this Territory would have lain hidden in the mountain ores for over half a century. The Union Pacific R.R., as a separate incorporation with an independent trade, would have been bankrupt or worse. Our half-way house to the Pacific, the only oasis of any capacity or longevity in the great American Desert, would have relapsed to plains and benches of alkali. We should have lost from Utah the only type of human labor with the patience, frugality, simplicity and directed industry to keep it under development.
But let us look at this charge of tyranny still further. We have seen that the charge of obtaining a revelation to “gobble up” the land of the believing settler is false; that the Church by its constitution provides for the impeachment and overthrow of its leaders whenever they subordinate social requirements to private ends and thus lose public confidence. A fair and considerate person hearing a glowing description of the Mormon bishop presenting this inordinate long bill of advances made to the prosperous farmer, would be tempted to say, then must have owed his success in life t this generous aid, his prosperity to the direct result of wisely directed social effort, and he would see nothing strange in the representative of the Church the only organization of the moral forces in the Territory, presenting the account and demanding from him, for other, like aid. Yet men who claim to be exponents of a religion professedly based on the Golden Rule call this practical illustration of their theoretical profession—tyranny!
The pure egoist, the grasping, selfish schemer who wants to get all he can, take all that is given him, and hold all that he has, who knows nought of duty and insists on his rights, who will acknowledge no obligation not backed by legal authority, cannot understand an account appealing to a sense of duty, of honor, and deems it a flagrant violation of his personal independence.
But I do not propose to meet this charge by inference, or by appealing to motives and sentiments that may not be understood. Let us come down to facts. In the anti-polygamy law of 1862 it was provided that no church in any territory shall acquire property exceeding in value the sum of $50,000.
But, it is still urged, this law could not have a retroactive effect and the Church could still hold the immense tracts already acquired. The census for 1870 gave only three estates in all Utah exceeding 500 acres! The truth is that the whole extent of church property, the great monopoly of land enjoyed by the Mormon theocracy, is limited to a ten acre lot in Salt Lake City—the Temple lot.
These are undeniable facts; what shall we do with them? Above all, let us be candid.
We hear occasionally of the Mormon legislature passing certain land laws in the past in the interest of church aggrandizement. Before the country was opened up roads were necessary through certain cañons in that mountainous country, and, in the absence of any United States survey, laws were passed providing for such surveys and roads, without force save as they were subsequently adopted and approved by settlers. We mush remember that it is only within ten years that the resident of Salt Lake City could possess a title deed to his homestead, and that in view of the uncertainty as to title, and the prevalence of “jumping claims,” action by the legislature became a social necessity.
In brief, land is procured in Utah just as it is in any other Territory, and ninety-five per cent of the Mormon population live in their own houses, on their own land, to which they hold deeds in their own names.
So much for tyranny. But let us look at this question in another phase and see how far true is the charge of
The population of Utah by the census of 1880, is about 144,000, divided as follows:—
Mormons………………….…………… 120, 283
Apostate Mormons……………….. 6,988
Josephite “ …………………….. 820
Doubtful……………………………….. 1,716 23,680
It will be seen that the “Gentiles” constitute only ten per cent of the population, yet from this small minority are taken the incumbents of nearly every position of influence and emolument. They have the Governor, with absolute veto power, Secretary, Judges, Marshals, Prosecuting Attorneys, Land Register, Recorder, Surveyor-General, Clerks of the Courts, Commissioners, principle Post-Office Contractors, Postal Agents, Revenue Assessors and Collectors, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Indian Agencies, Indian Supplies, Army Contractors, express, railroad and telegraph lines, the associated press agency, half the jurors in law, but at least three-fourths and always the foreman in practice, in fact, every position not elective.
Take one of our small cities of about the same population, Elmira for instance, and imagine that there was in that city a small minority like that of the Gentiles in Salt Lake city, have the same privileges. In addition to this imagine this minority non-Christians, say Jews, Pagans and Infidels, and that they should announce their Christian fellow-citizens as knaves, as frauds, as whoremongers, their wives as prostitutes and their children as bastards. To make the comparison still closer you must further imagine that in this small minority there were comprised all the gamblers, all the land-sharks, all the rum-sellers, all the public prostitutes and their patrons. What exhibition of Christian meekness would you look for from the Elmira Christians?
Let us be fair; how would this boot fit on the other leg?
Now again to the facts.
Ever religion by Mormon law is guaranteed the fullest protection, and their church edifice exempt from taxation. Brigham Young gave over one thousand dollars to the erection of non-Mormon churches in Salt Lake City. He gave five hundred dollars for this purpose to the Catholics, liberally to the Episcopal chapel, and a piece of ground to the Jews for a cemetery. When divines of reputation visit Salt Lake City they are offered the pulpit of the Tabernacle. When Dr. Newman, sometimes known as the Royal Chaplain, visited Utah, as a writer has wittily remarked, with six Hebrew roots carefully committed to memory, immediately on his arrival he donned his intellectual coat, and trailing its skits before the Church, challenged a discussion of Bible polygamy. The Mormons have since published this discussion without comment as a church document, and now this belligerent parson, smarting under defeat, rears himself on end, flaps his ears, and joins his bray to the anti-Mormon chorus. Yet immediately on his presence there being known, Brigham Young courteously tendered to him the pulpit of the Tabernacle for Sunday service!
Do you say that this broad liberality—giving use of public halls free of rent to weak religious societies, or money to aid them to erect churches, is but “policy?” Granted; but remember that the second generation of Mormons is now on the stage and the third is growing up, and tell me how many generations can be brought up under this “policy” without being governed by it and permeated with its spirit.
Let us look nearer home for an illustration. In Vermont, the State represented in the Senate by Mr. Edwards, the overwhelming majority of the population are Republicans, as their fathers were Whigs. Like their fathers they have persistently refuse to vote for Democrats. Have they used this overhelming prponderance in numbers with liberality? Let me recall an instance within my knowledge. In many of the towns of Vermont the Town Hall is given to each political party for meetings without charge. During the late warin some of these towns the Democrats were denied the use of the Town Hall upon the ground that their party was a “disloyal” organizations, and even as late as the campaign of 1868 the same policy was continued and the same reason given!
In view of these facts if we were to look for advocates of the American principles of toleration and equal justice, would we look to Vermont for the supply and to Utah for their field of operations, or vice versa?
A MORMON ENCYCLICAL
In a circular addressed by the Mormon Church to all its members and sent to every town, even where a non-Mormon was not known, bearing date July 11,1877, just before the death of Brigham Young, I find these general instructions:
If persons professing to be members of the Church be guilty of allowing drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, profanity, defrauding or back-biting, or any other kind of wickedness or unrighteous dealing, they should be visited by the teachers of the ward in which they reside, and their wrongs be pointed out to them in the spirit of meekness and brotherly kindness, and they be exhorted to repent.
Education is strongly insisted upon, and the formation of societies for mutual improvement for young men and women. Every settlement is urged to have a library and great care taken in the selection of books, particular stress being lain upon books treating on gardening and architecture. Singing is urged in the schools strongly; but I again quote:
In connection with the education of our children the important of training the youth of both sexes in regular occupations and habits of industry cannot be too strongly urged upon the people. Every young man and young woman whose physical ability will admit of it should be taught to be skilled workers in those trades and pursuits adapted to the sex of each. Young men who follow farming and stock raising should learn these pursuits thoroughly; so also with those who become mechanics, they should spare no pains to be skillful. Young women besides learning housekeeping in its various branches should attend to the cultivation of silk and clothe themselves in it, and acquire a knowledge of braiding and make straw hats, and cutting out and making clothing for themselves and the other sex, and at the same time not neglect those accomplishments which are an adornment to themselves and render home so attractive.
Ho are the priests in this theocratic State? Are our Christian churches prepared to take the position that it is dangerous for any one denomination to become numerically strong? If our Methodist brothers were successful in their missionary efforts, and should enroll proportionately as many professed adherent in Utah as they have been able to do among the Government official sent there in the last twelve years, would they not hail it with delight? But would their affairs be better managed or the people less priest-ridden? Let us see.
We have been told by men who are proud of their church membership, that these poor and benighted people who have been seduced from lands of Christian civilization and light (but which, by the way, have none the less left them benighted) are priest-ridden! There is no priesthood as we understand the term. Every intelligent man is a priest, and liable at any moment to be called upon for missionary work. There is no body of “spiritual guides” set apart and supported by the community; there is no fund, no tax for their support. Every Mormon goes forth “without purse or scrip,” and a salary is never given.
The Elders in the Mormon Church are the men who have the most intelligence and moral fitness for the position; men who have the most interest in the prosperity of the Territory—business men, what we would call the “solid men” of the community with conservative tendencies. When the adult population of that city gather on Sabbath at the great Tabernacle, one of these, perhaps a merchant, or a manufacturer, or a professional man, is called upon without previous notice to address them. Hence the essential social character of the religion and its strong hold upon the people. A knowledge of men’s wants is a pre-requisite to the priesthood, and the spiritual power is intelligent public opinion guarding social interests, and moral as well as material progress.
In Brooklyn, the “City of Churches,” a Mormon “priest,” earning his bread by his daily labor, has sent four hundred persons to Utah, and a hundred more have gone from the shores of Long Island Sound, converted by Mormon preachers, to find for themselves homes. Do you suppose that there men, mechanics, oyster fisherman, etc., have either materially or spiritually suffered by the change?
Let us be honest.
As early as 1852, Brigham Young and the Legislature petitioned Congress to construct a railroad and telegraph line across the continent via Salt Lake. Later the Mormons graded and tied some four hundred miles of the Union and Central Pacific R. R. over the Rocky Mountains and west of Salt Lake, a very difficult part of the route. They also build about six hundred miles of the first transcontinental telegraph line. In addition, they have constructed over five hundred miles of local railroads and have as many more in process of construction, and can boast that they have no debts on account of railroad construction. They have some fifteen hundred miles of telegraph lines, like their railroads, built without subsidies of any kind.
The business statistics of Utah show an immense development in commercial relations. The freight exports for 1879 and 1880 are as follows:
1879……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 491,527,361 lbs.
1880……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 542,511,633 lbs.
Excess……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 50,974,272 lbs.
The value of the yearly imports and exports is about sixteen million dollars. Jobbers and retailers do a yearly business of ten million dollars.
The manufactures of Utah have grown from $300,000 in value in 1850 to $5,000,000 in 1870. There are a hundred flour mills, more saw mills, twenty tanneries, twenty boot and shoe factories, ten furniture factories, woolen mills with five thousand spindles, cotton factories, foundries, machine shops, etc. The manufacture of bullion from ores, employing one hundred and fifty stamps and a score of smelting stocks, doubles the above value, making it ten millions easy at the present time.
Utah has about three hundred and fifty district schools, and public libraries everywhere may be found. They have a magazine, also The Woman’s Exponent, edited by Mormon ladies, co-operative stores, industrial institutions and ladies’ relief societies. The latter in 1880 numbered three hundred branches. They have young men’s and young women’s Mutual Improvement societies in almost every settlement, Literary and Choral Unions, Glee Clubs, Musical and Fine Art associations; also agricultural, manufacturing, pomological, horticultural, bee, fish, fine stock and poultry societies and gardener’s clubs established in every part of the Territory.
Last year the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society, comprising a few non-Mormon members, offered a prize for the best essay on Utah for the purpose of gratuitous circulation in order to invite settlers there irrespective of religious faiths. The essay ajudged second best, and printed with the other, is from the pen of O. J. Hollister, U. S. Revenue Collector, and known in Utah, by the local phrase, as “a Mormon-eater,” he probably having written more against the Mormons in the past ten years than any other man. In his essay on the “Resources and Attractions of Utah, as Inviting the Attention of Tourists and Those Seeking Permanent Homes,” I find the following statements:
Salt Lake Basin extends from Nephi to Bear River Gates, two hundred miles. It … is the paradise of the farmer, the horticulturist, and the fruit grower. … Counting one hundred thousand acres in hay, fifteen thousand in miscellaneous crops, ten thousand in fruit, we have two hundred and forty-two thousand acres under cultivation. There are nearly ten thousand farms. … Although one-half of the arable land has been entered, nine-tenths of it is yet unimproved. Its settlement is better undertaken in colonies than individually. There is enough water and rich land, the home demand is great and prices stiff enough to make agriculture, instead of mining, the prime industry. It should not need to bring food for man and beast to Utah. … In no other State or Territory are the taxes so moderate. … Commercial pre-eminence among the great mountain States is easily within the reach of Utah’s business men. … Utah affords the ordinary religious and educational facilities of the Territories. One has choice of Protestant services in the principal towns of Northern Utah. … One hundred and fifty thousand hardy and industrious people are on the ground. No State or Territory offers greater inducements to the enterprising capitalist, artisan, laborer or farmer.
“In no other State or Territory are the taxes so moderate” as in Utah. Let us refer again to the figures.
The annual Territorial tax is 3 mills on the dollar; Territorial school tax 3 mills on the dollar; all the counties in the Territory are limited to a tax of 6 mills annually. The incorporated cities are limited to from 5 to 10 mills annually, except Salt Lake City, whose limit is 11 ¼ mills for all purposes. Salt Lake City collected 5 mulls per annum until 1876, when the tax was increased to 7 ½ mills; this rate continued four years, when it was reduced again to 5 mills, and so remains.
There is no bonded debt in the Territory nor in any of the cities or counties except Salt Lake City. Two years ago the Legislature authorized Salt Lake City to issue bonds not to exceed $250,000, for the purpose of constructing a canal twenty miles long, to bring water from the River Jordan to Salt Lake City, for irrigation purposes. About $175,000 of the bonds have been issued, and the canal is about completed to the City, and will be used for irrigation purposes this season. This City has no other debt. She has built water-works at a cost of nearly $200,000; has more than ten miles of main pipes, all of which are owned by the Corporation, and have been paid for out of City revenue. She also owns $80,000 (or about one-third interest) in the stock of the Salt Lake City Gas Co. The property valuation for taxes throughout the Territory is less than fifty per cent of its real value. As an evidence that no discrimination is made in assessments as between Mormons and non-Mormons and non-residents, Col. John R, Winder, the assessor and collector of Salt Lake City, has held that position twelve years, and, though a Mormon, has been sustained by the votes of all classes of citizens.
The assessed value of property in that City for 1881 was $7,912,395.
“THE DANGEROUS CLASSES”
Let us now consider the moral condition of the Mormon Facts are worth more than empty declamations, and there is probably no subject before the American people in which there is such a persistent ignoring of the facts as in the Mormon question, It is our duty to study all sides of the question, in order to deal with it dispassionately.
Last winter there was a census taken of the Utah penitentiary and the Salt Lake City and County prisons with the following results. In Salt Lake City there are about seventy-five Mormons to twenty-five non-Mormons. In Salt Lake County there are about eighty Mormons to twenty non-Mormons. In the city prison there were twenty-nine convicts, all non-Mormons; in the county prison there were six convicts, all non-Mormons. The jailor stated that the county convicts for the five years past were all anti-Mormons except three.
In Utah we have seen that by the U. S. Census the proportion of orthodox Mormons to all others is as eighty-three to seventeen. In the Utah penitentiary there were fifty-one prisoners, only five of whom were Mormons, and two of the five were in prison for imitating Father Abraham in their domestic ménage, so that the seventeen percent “outsiders” had forty-six convicts in the penitentiary, while the eighty-three percent Mormons had but five! The total number of Utah lockups, including the penitentiary, is fourteen; these aggregated one hundred and twenty-five inmates. Of these one hundred and twenty-five not over eleven were Mormons, several of whom were incarcerated for minor offenses and polygamy; while if all the anti-Mormon thieves, adulterers, blacklegs, perjurers, murderers and other criminals who are at large, were sent to prison, the Mormons claim that their prisons could not hold them.
Is this bombast? Let us continue interrogating the facts.
In 1878 a Mormon publication made the following boastful statement:
Out of the twenty counties of the Territory, most of which are populous, thirteen are, today, without a dram shop, brewery, gambling or brothel house, bowling or billiard saloon, lawyer, doctor, parson beggar politician or place hunter, and almost entirely free from social troubles of every kind; yet these counties are exclusively “Mormon;” and with the exception of a now and then domestic doctor or lawyer the entire Territory was free from these adjuncts of civilization (?), till after the advent of the professing Christian element, boastingly here to ‘regenerate the Mormons,’ and to-day every single disreputable concern in Utah is run and fostered by the very same Christian (?) element. Oaths, imprecations, blasphemies, invectives, expletives, blackguardism, the ordinary dialect of the ‘anti-Mormon,’ were not heard in Utah till after his advent, nor, till then, did we have litigation, drunkenness, harlotry, political and judicial deviltries, gambling and kindred enormities.
This is what the Mormon asserts. Let us see how the case stands to-day, and what the facts attest.
Out of the two hundred saloon, billiard, bowling alley and pool table keepers, not over a dozen even profess to be Mormons. All of the bagnios and other disreputable concerns in the Territory are run and sustained by anti-Mormons. Ninety-five per cent of the Utah lawyers are Gentiles, and eighty per cent of all the litigation there is outside growth and promotion.
Of the two hundred and fifty towns and villages in Utah over two hundred have no “gawdy sepulcher of departed virtue,” and these two hundred and odd towns are almost exclusively Mormon in population. Of the suicides committed in Utah ninety odd per cent are non-Mormons, and of the Utah homicides and infanticides over eighty per cent are perpetrated by the seventeen per cent “outsiders.”
The arrests made in Salt Lake City from January 1, 1881, to December 8, 1881, are classified as follows:
Mormons—Men and Boys…………………………………………………………………………………..…………… 163
“ Women…………………………………………………………………………………..………………………. 6 169
Anti-Mormons—Men and Boys…………………………………………………………………………………..……. 657
“ Women…………………………………………………………………………………..………………………. 194 851
A number of the Mormon arrests were for chicken, cow and water trespass, petty larceny, etc. The arrests of anti-Mormons were in most cases for prostitution, gambling, exposing of person, drunkenness, unlawful dram selling, assault and battery, attempt to kill, etc.
If the seventy-five per cent Mormon population of Salt Lake City were as lawless and corrupt as the record shows the twenty-five per cent anti-Mormon to be, there would have been 2,443 arrests made from their ranks during the year 1881 in stead of the comparatively trifling number of 169 shown on the record; while if the twenty-five per cent anti-Mormon population had as law-abiding and upright a record as the seventy-five per cent Mormons, instead of the startling number of 851 anti-Mormon arrests during the year, there would have been but 56 made.
Passing from the material and moral conditIon of the people of Utah, let us consider some of their
Every city and town in Utah has a public place to which lost property when found is taken and advertised where the owner can get it without cost. Great pains are taken to afford relief for those in want through the relief societies and the bishops of the respective wards. A poorhouse has not yet become a Mormon institution, and unfed, unclothed, unhoused and unschooled children do not throng their streets. In fact, they are an impossibility in purely Mormon communities. The religion is above all social.
NOTICE TO ALL.
If there are any persons in this city who are destitute of food, let them be high or low, noble or ignoble, if hey will let their wants be known to me, privately or otherwise, I will see that they are furnished with food and lodging, until they can provide for themselves. Every winter similar institutions are extended, and we wish the bishop of every ward to see that there are no persons going hungry.
EDWARD HUNTER, Presiding Bishop.
As a people the Mormons are very temperate, even using water instead of wine at the Lord’s Supper. The wonderful success of the Mormons in their treatment of the Indian question has guaranteed their security and challenged the admiration of all who have been familiar with it; and in this connection it is worthy of mention that half-breed Mormon children are unknown.
Woman suffrage prevails under Mormon law, and in the constitution drafted by them for the State of Deseret, it is not only incorporated, but provision is also made for minority representation, that even their enemies may have a voice.
Congress has rarely failed to ratify their laws. Their first laws were copied from the statue books of the older States with such adaptation as was necessary; since that time their laws have been largely drawn from the revision of the State of New York, and other States noted for legal acumen and ability. Mormon laws have never had a taint of theocracy about them, and in their Act to provide for a mechanics’ and laborers’ lien, many of the older States might take a lesson. By their laws the poor man may not only collect his money when earned, but has it exempted from execution after he has earned and collected it.
We all who know, who have been West, the exorbitant charges to which travelers are generally subjected. Now I claim that Mormon territory is the only place west of the Rocky Mountains where there has been a systematic effort made to remedy this. In San Francisco the growth of population has led to the diminution of prices; but the reform has been effected in Utah by other means, and although competition is fully recognized as the governing principle in trade, this remedy was projected before the growth of population rendered competition an available solution.
From the very first, Brigham Young “set his face as a flint” against the selfish spirit of avarice governing trade under which Mormon and Gentile alike groaned, yet has been charged with fostering what he succeeded in essentially modifying. Twenty years ago he tried to induce the leading merchants to inaugurate a co-operative system by which the necessities of life would be cheapened and the people reap the benefit. Merchants were making enormous profits. Wheat, for instance, was bought for seventy-five cents a bushel, made into flour and sold in the mining regions for twenty-five dollars per hundred weight.
At last a leading firm apostatized—though from other reasons—and the channels of trade were being used against Mormon interests, and it became necessary for the large merchants to inaugurate a new system or give up their convictions; it had become a question of social preservation versus self-interest. Mr. Jennings, one of the largest merchants, and perhaps one of the wealthiest men in Utah, rented his store to a co-operative association for five years, and the experiment was inaugurated in 1868. In accordance with the social character of all Mormon institutions, shares were placed at five dollars; one hundred dollars being the maximum, and to-day there is a co-operative establishment in nearly every settlement.
The heaviest is Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution of Salt Lake City, which with its branches at Ogden and Logan, imports two-third of all the merchandise in the Territory. It has eight hundred stockholders and a cash capital of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The local co-operative stores buy of this, though not branches, and they have succeeded in bringing down process to within the reach of the poorest, being patronized by Saint and Gentile alike. Their stockholders may be counted by the thousands. So we may say that co-operation has been reduced from a religious duty to a voluntary and profitable system, and presented on a grander scale than anywhere else in the world; and now, after fourteen years’ experience, has achieved a brilliant success.
We hear, among other methods advised for wiping out Mormon superstition, some of the effects of which we have been considering, that of education. In presenting some statistical information upon this subject, let us bear in mind the peculiar circumstances under which Utah is placed. The Mormon population come largely from countries where the peasantry—the source of Mormon growth—are not the most cultured and enlightened; persons who know nothing of esthetics or the summer school of philosophy, and who, either from past poverty, persecution or present isolation, have not the advantages enjoyed by us.
Before citing from the still incomplete census reports of 188, let us take that of 1870 and compare Utah and Massachusetts, the new theocracy with the descendants of an old theocracy—priest-ridden Utah with “cultured” Massachusetts, also adding the District of Columbia, which has the enlightening presence of the American Congress to add to its advantages, and is under its direct government.
Comparative Statistics from Census of United States, 1870 School Atendance Illiteracy, can’t read or write, 16 yrs. and upwards Paupers Insane and Idiotic Convicts Printing and Publishing Establishments Church Edifices Utah 35 11 6 5 3 14 19 Mass 25 12 55 23 11 11 12 District of Columbia 27 40 23 35 9 11 8
From statistics contain in the Report of the Commissioners of Education for 1877, it is shown that in the percentage of enrolment of her school population, Utah is in advance of the general average of the United States, while in percentage in actual daily attendance at school, she still further exceeds the average of the whole Union.
In 1877, when the school population of Utah numbered 30,792, there was invested in the Territory in school property the considerable sum of $568,984, being about eighteen and one-half dollars per capita of the school population.
In contrast with this, take the amount per capita of their school population which some of the States have invested in school property: North Carolina, less that $0.60; Louisiana, $3.00; Virginia, about $2.00; Oregon, less than $9.00; Wisconsin less than $11.00; Tennessee, less than $2.50; Delaware, less than $13.00.
In respect to the amount, per capita, of her school population, which Utah has invested in school property, she exceeds several other Southern and Western States, is in advance of the great States of Indiana and Illinois, and I believe in advance of the general average of the entire Union.
Thus, in the matter of education, Utah stands ahead of many old and wealthy States, and of the general average of he United States in three very important respects, namely, the enrollment of her school population, the percentage of their daily attendance at school, and the amount per capita invested in school property.
When it is remembered that in nearly every State in the Union, vast sums of money derived from the sale of lands or from the establishment of special funds, are devoted to school purposes, and that these sums amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, in many of the States, while the schools of Utah have never yet received any assistance whatever in this manner, the fact that she occupies her present advanced position in respect to education, speaks volumes in her praise.
From the census of 1880 I have compiled the following:
COMPARISON OF ILLITERACY.—The United States and Utah Territory.
United States Utah
Total population 50,155,783 143,963
Total over 10 years of age who cannot read 4,923,455 4,851
Percentage who cannot read, 10 years and over 9.82 3.37
Total over 10 years of age who cannot write 6,239,958 8,826
Percentage who cannot write, 10 years and over 12.44 6.13
Total white population 43,402,970 142,423
Total white population over 10 years of age who cannot write 3,019,080 8,137
Percentage of white population who cannot write, 10 years and over 6.96 5.71
Of all of the States and Territories in the Union there are but thirteen showing a lower percentage of total population who cannot read, Connecticut having the same, 3.37. The rest range all the way up to 32.32, the percentage of total population in South Carolina.
As, however, it may be deemed unfair to cite the Southern States with their immense colored population, I cite the following statistics taken from a table prepared for Senator Blair from as yet unpublished returns, and contained in the Congressional Record for Dec. 21, 1881.
The percentage of total white population who cannot write in Utah is 5.71. Sixteen States and Territories show a far higher percentage, eight being above fifteen and two above twenty. Rhode Island presents us with a percentage of 8.72 and Massachusetts 5.14.
The efforts of the Mormon priesthood to arouse a greater interest in popular education, and the discussion of the best methods and systems for instructing the youth, is attested by the following official letter:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Bureau of Education,
Washington, D. C., May 15, 1880.
Permit me to express the pleasure with which I find in your report for 1878 and 1879, a brief summary of important educational statistics for all the States and Territories, from the tables compiled in this Bureau for 1877. The example thus set is a good one, as only by this means, while Congress limits the circulation of our reports, can the statistics, laboriously collected at this central office, reach the vast body of minor school officers and teachers, for whose benefit they should be spread abroad. It is to be hoped that other superintendents will follow the pattern thus presented, and thus enable all school officers and teachers in their several States and Territories to compare their own statistics with those of others elsewhere.
Very respectfully your obedient servant,
Acting Commissioner of Education
Hon John Taylor, Ter. Supt. District Schools, Salt Lake City, Utah.
In view of these facts, is it not well to pause before we join in the wholesale denunciation made by Christian ministers concerning the ignorance prevailing where a priesthood predominates?
STATE AND CHURCH
In this connection it may be well to state that the Mormon Legislature have ever strenuously insisted upon the complete separation of State and Church. They have asserted, as their fundamental policy, that “there should be no connection between Church and State. They should be distinctly separate. The Church should not exercise an influence over the State.”
The report before the present session of he Utah Legislature on the Governor’s message states this clearly, and is in accordance with the position uniformly maintained. They say:
We have not come here as representatives of any church, creed or religious establishment, and would deplore as much as any one, or any body of people, any ascendancy of priest-craft or dominion of priestly or ecclesiastical influence predominating over the minds of legislators or the civil authority of the government. We have already suffered too much, and are laboring under too much oppression from similar causes, not to be keenly alive to all such pernicious influence. On the contrary, we have come from the people of the Territory as their political representatives, chosen freely and fairly by a republican ballot. Our constituents are a progressive people, who have thrown off the dogmas, egotism, bigotry and superstition of the past, characteristic of the self-appointed wordlings who assume to lord it over God’s heritage for filthy lucre’s sake, and hireling priests who ‘divine for money and preach for hire,’ making merchandise of men’s souls, and who combine together to destroy the innocent and try to dictate to others what they shall or shall not believe or practice. Had your committee the assurance that the Governor is as free from such influences as are the representatives now assembled, and Utah’s people, whose representatives they are, we would experience less regret in reporting upon this part of the message. His Excellency can, however, rest assured that in our opinion, in no sense, should the church as such be placed by law over the State or other civil government; although the influence of God’s religion on the mind of man stimulates him to good deeds, to love his neighbors, to ennoble his nature, to cause him to observe and keep his solemn oaths and obligations.
In regard to the relation of the people to the United States Government, they are equally explicit. They say:
If we understand the political sentiment of Utah’s people, they are only too glad for the United States Government to rule supreme, exercising its undoubted right and sovereignty within its constitutional limits and authority for there is no people within the broad boundary of its proud domain, who honor, love and respect it more, or who have more need of its protecting care, in all of its great humanity and forbearance, than its citizens inhabiting these valleys of the mountains, who appeal for its protection against the wicked schemes and machinations of such as are combined and actively operating for their overthrow and destruction.
Nor is this any “latter-day” cry in the presence of danger, but has been their unvaried utterance from the day Joseph Smith taught that the Constitution was an inspired production.
When they first set foot in Utah, then Mexican territory, they unfolded the Stars and Stripes, and at the first grand celebration of Pioneer Day, July 24, 1849, the Declaration of Independence was read and Brigham Young led he audience in three roaring cheers for the Constitution of the United States.
John Taylor, his successor, and the official exponent of “Mormon Theocracy,” thus concisely states their position in a public address to his people:
This nation, as I understand it, was organized under the supervision of the Almighty, although men did not understand it; and that tree of liberty that was planted has borne an abundance of fruit, although there has been some wild fruit and also a great ma sour grapes mixed up with it. I very much question in my own mind whether the same things could have been accomplished in any other country that have been done here, and God comprehended it. And the Constitution that we revere, and that ought to be cherished and maintained by every American citizen of the United States, the Prophet Joseph said was written by the inspiration of God.
George Q. Cannon is no less explicit. He says:
I have always taken the broadest and most liberal ground respecting the treatment of strangers in our midst, and as General Superintendent of Sunday Schools, in my addresses to the children, have impressed upon them and their parents, in all parts of the Territory, the importance of extending to and maintaining the largest liberty for every one who may differ from us. I have often declared in m public addresses, that in my opinion, the Almighty would suffer our enemies to work at us and oppress us until we had learned the value of liberty and a deep seated and ineradicable hatred of oppression, so that in our mountains every man, of every race and every creed, should have the fullest freedom consistent with the rights and liberties of his neighbor.
It is puerile to object that these official statements, covering the whole history of Mormon growth, are insincere. We cannot examine motives, but these extracts so conclusively what Mormon “priests” have taught their people and made part of their daily education.
As American citizens we are not called upon to answer the question whether Mormonism is true, or whether it is better or worse than other form of religion. As citizens that does not concern us in the least. Thomas Jefferson, I believe to have stated the fundamental principle of toleration embodied in our form of government when he said that, under perfect religious freedom, “if a sect arises, whose tenets would subvert morals, good sense has fair play, and reasons and laughs it out of doors, without suffering the State to be troubled with it.”
The Supreme Court in their decision affirming the constitutionality of the anti-polygamy law quote this remark from the act drafted by Jefferson “for establishing religious freedom:” “It is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for the officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.”
The main question for us then to consider is whether in the religious observances of the people of Utah there is anything violative of social duties or subversive of good order. This brings us to their peculiar institution, that “plague spot in a Christian land,” the “twin relic of barbarism”—
Here, at least, exclaims the reader, you must apologize, if you do not condemn. Surely there cannot be anything said favorable of plural marriages? Kind reader! bear in mind that I am not discussing the abstract right or wrong of Mormon institutions and customs; that does not concern us unless they become “overt acts against peace and good order.”
The sole question for us, as citizens, is to inquire if polygamy can be so designated.
Before we get excited and red in the face with suppressed indignation, before we are ready to adopt any and every measure to suppress, stamp out, exterminate a social system two thousand miles distant, upheld and defended by public opinion and popular suffrage, let us at least seek to comprehend it.
What are the facts?
There are about 150,000 people in Utah, far more than double the population of Nevada, a State, an exceeding that of Kansas and Nebraska combined when admitted into the Union. How many women are there in this vast harem?
In 1880 Massachusetts had a surplus of females of over 64,000. Over 64,000 condemned to be old maids or to fill the ranks of the army of prostitutes filling the streets of our cities. The census returns show that twenty-two States have a surplus of females; that of Utah shows that there is and always has been more males than females in that Territory. The number of Mormon men having more than one wife may be estimated at from seven to ten per cent. of the total adult population.
Emigrants are invariably sought in families, and if the statistics of Castle Garden are obtainable it would be seen that there is no difference in the ration of sexes between Mormon immigrants and others.
Is it then true that this minority of polygamists constitute an aristocracy, a new “slaveocracy,” holding free expression of opinion in abeyance? So far from this being true, I think I can easily show that the denial of civil rights to polygamists can have no other effect than the possible disqualification of the prosperous well-to-do class, who in having he heaviest investments at stake are certainly as conservative as the others.
One feature of this perplexing question that should always be borne in mind is that it has its most ardent supporters among women. Do you sneer and say that negroes were also taught to hug their chains? Shame on your gallantry!
I assert that the most intellectual, the most moral, the most untrammeled of Mormon ladies indorse the system. And I assert this, knowing that Utah is peer of any State in noble-minded women; women of culture and refinement constantly engaged in active work through the press, the Relief Societies, the Mutual Inprovement Societies and other agencies of benevolent action.
Here is a Territory have more males than females, yet public opinion, freely accepting polygamy as not only a divine institution, but in it effects carrying with it its own justification. Yet living as we do, in respect to public morality, in glass houses, a Latter-day Saint whose honor and integrity it is impossible to doubt where he is known; a man before whom the obscene jest or lascivious expression would instinctively die on one’s lips, and in whose face women would intuitively discern purity of character—George Q. Cannon—has offended our moral sensibilities? Our Christian people stand aghast at his temerity in daring to claim a seat among our representatives at Washington, as if their character would be corrupted by association with a man who has hedged around his sexual relations with all the sanctity religious obligations can give! O tempora! O mores!
AS A SOCIAL SYSTEM
The Mormon Church holds that God never gives a revelation without some specific end, and they believe that in polygamy lies the sure for the social evils which have made our civilization a stench in the nostrils of every moralist.
“The other side” of the polygamic question presents itself under two aspects: as a social system and a religious belief. Let us consider the former first. And we may obtain a glimpse of the reason why Mormon women defend it. Those who reject their testimony as given under duress (it is strange how many there are who believe that other men’s wives can be “bossed”), and compare them with negro slaves as in a like state of servitude and degradation, let me remind that the other “twin relic”—slavery—never gave negroes the suffrage, never gave them societies for literary improvement, never placed the agencies of benevolent work under their auspices, or founded libraries for their use. The “Slaveocracy” never gave unbounded liberty to the abolitionists to entice the slave from his master, while anti-Mormons have all the privileges in Utah the polygamous wife that can be given. Any Mormon pluralist to-day can e indicted, under existing law, for adultery with his second wife, upon complaint and testimony of the defendant’s first wife.
Why is it that these ladies—some living in costly residences, writing for and editing periodicals, adorning their homes with works of artistic handicraft, shining in the social circle with free and unrestricted liberty to go and come, exposed to all the scintillations, the entreaties, the bribes of Government officials with the power of the Government to protect them—do not come forward and cry for help?
When Smith was murdered, a sigh of relief went out; Mormonism was dead! When the Pacific Railroad was completed, the day of deliverance was thought to be at hand, and prophetic eyes saw women flocking to the stations with pillows filled with hastily-gathered articles in eager flight for liberty! When Young died the country said, At last! But lo! with every year Mormonism takes on new strength, and no sufficient inducement has yet been found to warrant the establishment of even an “underground railroad” for the relief of Mormon women!
Mormon ladies of intelligence who have lived in the outside world, know that under monogamy a large proportion of wives are broken in health, suffering from chronic diseases which have their origins in sexual complications. They believe it to be an undoubted fact that man retains his virility and strength longer than woman; that he is, in every respect, the stronger sex.
It is a fundamental doctrine of the Mormon Church—a tenet taught to the man with one wife as well as to the “pluralist”—that there are periods when woman’s nature imperiously demands rest; that she should have perfect control over her own person, and enjoy that rest that Nature demands. Remember that this is a dogma, a religious belief; and I have the assurance from a lad physician of extensive practice in Utah—one whose studies were pursued in the best schools of the East and of Europe—that the Mormon women are far less afflicted with those complaints which embitter the lives and domestic happiness of so many of their Eastern sisters. We see here one reason why these “misguided” but healthful women can smile at the pity bestowed upon them by their sisters of the East, and retort the epithets “misguided” and “degraded” upon their would-be deliverers.
In this connection I cite the following extract from a letter by Mrs. Belinda M. Pratt, to her sister in New Hampshire:
“But, leaving all Scripture, history, or precedent out of the question, let us come to Nature's law. What, then, appears to be the great object of the marriage relations ? I answer, the multiplying of our species, the rearing and training of children.
“To accomplish this object, natural law would dictate that a husband should remain apart from his wife at certain seasons, which, in the very constitution of the female, are untimely; or, in other words, indulgence should be not merely for pleasure or wanton desires, but mainly for the purpose of procreation.
“The mortality of nature would teach a mother that, during Nature's process in the formation and growth of embryo man, her heart should be pure, her thoughts and affections chaste, her mind calm, her passions without excitement, while her body should be invigorated with every exercise conducive to health and vigor, but by no means subjected to any thing calculated to disturb, irritate, weary, or exhaust any of its functions.
“And while a kind husband should nourish, sustain, and comfort the wife of his bosom by every kindness and attention consistent with her situation and with his most tender affection, still he should refrain from all those, untimely associations which are forbidden in the great constitutional laws of female nature, which laws we see carried out in almost the entire animal economy, human animals excepted.
“Polygamy, then, as practiced under the patriarchal law of God, tends directly to the chastity of women, and to sound health and morals in the constitutions of their offspring.
“You can read in the law of God, in your Bible, the times and circumstances under which a woman should remain apart from her husband, during which times she is considered unclean; and should her husband come to her bed under such circumstances, he would commit a gross sin both against the laws of nature and the wise provisions of God's law, as revealed in his word; in short, he would commit an abomination; he would sin both against his own body, against the body of his wife, and against the laws of procreation, in which the health and morals of his offspring are directly concerned.
“The polygamic law of God opens to all vigorous, healthy, and virtuous females a door by which they may become honorable wives of virtuous men, and mothers of faithful, virtuous, healthy, and vigorous children.
“And here let me ask you, my dear sister, what female in all New Hampshire would marry a drunkard, a man of hereditary disease, a debauchee, an idler, or a spendthrift; or what woman would become a prostitute, or, on the other hand, live and die single, or without forming those inexpressibly dear relationships of wife and mother, if the Abrahamic covenant, or patriarchal laws of God, were extended over your State, and held sacred and honorable by all?
Remember always, that the question is not whether the remedy here outlined is the best one, but whether holding such views should constitute a person a criminal when the relation is entered into by mutual consent under religious consecration?
This brings us to the religious side of polygamy. The first wife in the Mormon social system is the wife by civil marriage, and always remains the wife, the head of the polygamous family. The second wife cannot be taken without the consent of the first, who is present at the solemnization of the marriage and places the hand of the new wife into that of her husband; the third, also, must have the consent and presence of the other two. The object of his is to secure perfect harmony in the home.
Do you ask how often the consent of the wife is forced? I answer with another question: How often is the consent of the monogamous wife forced? We point to our theory of marriage for an answer to such exceptional cases. Let us give Mormon human nature the same grace we crave, although, as a matter of fact, the exceptional cases are far more rare in Utah than in New York.
Every instance of neglected Mormon wives paraded before the public, even if true, bears with equal weight against marriage here as well. I have shown that our divines, in sneering at Mormon revelation, were but repeating infidel arguments; in every case they so triumphantly cite of marital unhappiness in Utah, they are by repeating Free Love arguments against marriage itself.
Let us see what are the avenues for escape from the abused Mormon wife.
The first wife, being the wife by civil marriage, has the same redress as the wife by civil marriage here or elsewhere. She has the same opportunity to secure a legal divorce and, in fact, greater opportunities than in some of our States. The plural wife can obtain a divorce upon almost any ground if she but so determines, even “incompatibility of temperament” being sufficient to annul the bond.
I have in mind a case of divorce which will illustrate the absurdity of subjection so persistently inculcated. The wife of a son of one of the original Twelve whose name is cherished with love by the Mormons, found her married life a burden, her husband shiftless and depending upon her for support. When at last he proposed to add to her cares by another wife, patience ceased to be a virtue, and she “spoke her mind,” and sought a divorce. Here was an instance where a “scandal” might be brought upon a name endeared to every Mormon, one whose reputation was regarded as bound up in the Church itself, and pride alone would seemingly render the “priesthood” deaf to her claim. But her prayer was listened to and a divorce granted, and this same wife is to-day as devout a Mormon and as sincere a believer in polygamy as ever.
Geo. Q. Cannon has stated the Mormon view on this point very clearly, and, as it may be regarded as official, I will cite his words. He says:
There is an impression among the uninformed that the man who enters into patriarchal marriage in Utah has but little, if any, responsibility connected with it; that upon his partners rest all the burdens and unpleasant features of the relationship; that they, in becoming his wives, become the creatures of his will, and that, therefore, their civil rights are interfered with. This view is wholly incorrect. It is the women, under the system of patriarchal marriage, who have liberty, and not the men. When once marriage has taken place between the parties, be the woman ever so poor or friendless, ever so much an unprotected stranger in the land, the man who knows her takes upon him a life-long obligation to care for her and the fruit of their union. For a man to seek for a divorce is almost unheard of, the liberty upon this point rests with the woman; and, as regards a separation, if her position should become irksome, or distasteful to her even, and she should desire a separation, not only is the man bound to respect the expressal of her wish to that effect, but he is bound also to give her and her offspring a proportionate share of his whole property. They are no longer under his yoke; but while he and they live, they have a claim upon him from which he is never completely absolved.
Surely it must be religion which prompts the Latter-Day Saints to incur such serious responsibilities at the risk of being pronounced felons, and being stripped of property and citizenship by being incarcerated in the penitentiary.
How many married men among my readers would care about doubling or trebling their responsibilities? Let us be fair.
President Taylor has said:
Our marriages are solemnized by proper authorities; a woman is sealed unto a man for time and eternity, with us it is Celestial Marriage; take this from us and you rob us of our hopes and association in the resurrection of the just. This not our religion? You do no see things as we do. You marry for time only “until death doth you part.” We have eternal covenants, eternal unions, eternal associations.
You acknowledge one wife and her children; what of your other associations unacknowledged? We acknowledge all of our wives and all of our children: we don't keep a few only and turn the others out as outcasts, to be provided for by orphan asylums, or to turn out vagabonds on the street to help increase the fearfully growing evil. Our actions are all honest, open and above board. We have no gambling hells, no drunkenness, no infanticides, no houses of assignation, no prostitutes. Our wives are not afraid of our intrigues and debauchery, nor are our wives and daughters corrupted by designing and unprincipled villains. We believe in the chastity and virtue of woman, and maintain them. There is not to-day in the wide world a place where female honor, virtue and chastity are so well protected as in Utah.
And in all honesty I believe it.
WHAT MORMON WOMEN SAY
It may not be inappropriate to cite some expressions of opinion made by Mormon women on polygamy, in whose ostensible interest the present crusade is being waged.
Mrs. Pratt, a first wife, in the letter already quoted, said:
I have (as you see, in all good conscience, founded on the Word of God) formed family and kindred ties which are inexpressibly dear to me, and which I can never bring my feelings to consent to dissolve. I have a good and virtuous husband whom I love. We have four little children which are mutually and inexpressibly dear to us. And, besides this, my husband has seven other living wives, and one who has departed to a better world. He has in all upward of twenty-five children. All these mothers and children are endeared to me by kindred ties, by mutual affection, by acquaintance and association; and the mothers in particular, by mutual and long-continued exercises of toil, patience, long-suffering, and sisterly kindness. We all have our imperfections in this life; but I know that these are good and worthy women, and that my husband is a good and worthy man; one who keeps the commandments of Jesus Christ, and presides in his family like an Abraham.
Mrs. Eliza R. Snow Young:
I believe in the principle of plural marriage just as sacredly as I believe in any other institution which God has revealed. I believe it to be necessary for the redemption of mankind from the low state of corruption into which it has sunken … Virtue is the foundation of the prosperity of any nation; and this sacred principle of plural marriage tends to virtue, purity and holiness.
Mrs. Bethsheba W. Smith:
As a legal citizen of this great republic, I enter my most fervent protest against this unlawful and unhallowed crusade, founded on misrepresentations. Congress has no right to interfere with our most sacred religion. As well might that honorable body legislate against baptism by immersion as against plurality of wives. God has revealed these principles and they must be sustained. With our own free consent our husbands take more wives, and when children crown our joy, around our sacred family altars we bow the knee and supplicate our Heavenly Father's blessing on our household and rejoice in his divine favor as legitimate wives with honorable children. We regard our husbands as men of true virtue and integrity, who take upon themselves so great a responsibility in honoring the laws of God, and we bear them up in our faith and secret prayers.
Mrs. Zina D. Young:
The principle of our holy religion that is assailed is on that lies deep in my heart. … We are proud of this principle because we understand its true worth, and we want our children to practice it, that through us a race of men and women may grow up, possessing sound minds in sound bodies.
Mrs. Hannah T. King:
… I felt that its laws coincided with the laws of my nature; my daughters entered into the order in all their youth and beauty—educated as they have been in all the refinements of the world, and have ever honored it, and been an honor to it, and to the church, whose principles they left their home and all its attractions to obey. … I have now been in the church twenty-eight years, and my path has not been one of roses by any means, but I have no regrets; I would not return to former things for Queen Victoria’s crown and all its appendages.
Mrs. Margaret T. Smoot:
I have been a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for forty-four years and have lived now nearly seventy years. … I am the wife of a polygamist; his other wives and his children by those are just as much a part of his family as me and mine, I being his first wife; and his other wives are just as lawful and honorable n the sight of God as I am, and his children I consider to be just as lawful and honorable as any children born in wedlock. These are not only my feelings, but I know them to be the feelings of many others who occupy a position like that which I occupy, and I believe them to be the feelings of his whole community.
Dr. Romania B. Pratt:
The days of silence and patient endurance of calumny on the women of the Latter-day Saints concerning the subject of plural marriage are over. And notwithstanding that “neglected calumny soon expires,” the great importance of the fact that our children and children's children have been born and bred under the teachings and practice of this great principle, and the sacredness of our duty to preserve hallowed and pure in their hearts the altar of filial love, though but ordinate to our higher duty of obedience to God, is an inspiration not to be neglected or unheeded.
Mrs. Phoebe Woodruff:
It has been upwards of forty years since my first acquaintance with these doctrines, this people and the Prophet Joseph Smith. I knew him to be an honorable, virtuous and pure man, and his brother Hyrum also. … If I am proud of anything in this world it is that I accepted the principle of plural marriage and remained among the people called “Mormons” and am numbered with them to-day. I can say truly that I am satisfied for one—and I don't guess at it, nor is it because some one has told me—but it is because the Spirit of God has borne testimony to me of the truth of this work, and of its truthfulness I am a witness.
Mrs. E. B. Wells:
Though I cherish no ill feeling towards those who have arrayed themselves against this principle of our faith, “plural marriage,” yet as they oppose it, we must meet it and we intend to meet it with all the energy that we possess, and it will be “diamond cut diamond,” I assure you.
Phoebe C. Young:
The cry has ever been the down-trodden women of Utah. … They would have the world believe us the most degraded and neglected beings of all God's creation. Now, we know this is not so; we enjoy full as much liberty as they do, and a great deal more, with all their boasted civilization. We enjoy all the rights that are accorded to our sex anywhere, and know as well how to use them as any of our compeers in the eastern cities would. Indeed, we enjoyed more before they kindly introduced so much of their vaunted civilization into our midst . The day has been when one could walk the streets of Salt Lake City at any hour of the day or night, if necessary, without fear of insult, for every man we met would be a brother and a friend.
M. Isabella Horne:
"You say that you would like to know how the Mormon women do feel. I will tell you. They all know that they are honored wives and mothers, acknowledged in society with their children, and are happy in knowing that their husbands are true to their marriage covenants, whether they have one wife or more. The Lord, seeing the wickedness and corruption on the earth, in his Wisdom has revealed the principle of Plural Marriage, to purify society and elevate woman from the degradation in which man has placed her; and woe will be unto the man that degrades woman, for she is a gift from God. And I can positively assert that in no place on earth are chastity and virtue in women more honored and protected than among the people called “Mormons.”
Emily B. Spencer:
Celestial marriage, that gives us power over death, that unites in heaven as well as upon earth, that has no dissolution in it, is the present target. Celestial marriage, that brings the blessings of the Lord, that is a commandment from heaven, is what they pretend to aim at. Really it is the kingdom of God, the truth from heaven, and the people who obey the commandments of God, against whom their hatred exists.
Helen Mar Whitney:
If the few who believe this principle to be a righteous one can afford to endure it, certainly the stranger ought to leave us to ourselves to work out the “problem” … If those who call themselves Christians would come to us with a spirit more in accordance with their profession, if we could not all see alike, we might at least be friends; but the unrighteous and inhuman course taken to root out what they please to call “The Twin Relic,” only arouses in our hearts a more determined spirit of opposition, and fills every virtuous and sincere "Mormon" woman with indignation, and we tell them with the same spirit that inspired the heroic defenders of liberty at Bunker Hill, when they said to the infatuated monarch of England, “We have chosen (religious) war in preference to voluntary slavery” to their false ideas and the humbuggeries of acknowledged Mormon-eaters and virtue and life destroyers.
I have given these extracts, not merely to prove that Mormon ladies of culture indorse polygamy, but also to show that it is, indeed, held as a religious principle. It is a relation entered into by mutual consent, and neither moral nor physical degradation has followed its thirty years’ trial. It is as much a tenet of faith as baptism by immersion, and held as a sacramental relation. Are we authorized to conclude that it is in any way violative of social duties or subversive of good order?
The assertion, that I am astonished to find embodied in the recent decision of the Supreme Court, that Thuggism and widow-burning are also held as religious duties, is not applicable. These are crimes of themselves; they violate human rights in the taking of life. By what reasoning can there be a comparison instituted between these and a system so ably defended by Mormon ladies of culture and deep religious convictions? The want of reasoning, or ignorance of the facts, can alone account for it.
A decision of the Supreme Court, I need not tell New England clergymen, is not accepted as a finality where a moral conviction is believed to have been outraged. If the Mormons denounce the decision, they will be but following their illustrious example. If they have lost faith in the Supreme Court and speak of it as a political body, that loss of confidence will be found to date back to the Electoral Commission of 1877. This blow at popular esteem for our judges came from the Court, and the Mormons can hardly be accounted disloyal for sharing a feeling common to the whole country.
The Mormons shrink from a civilization that introduces the brothel with its advance guard, fills our papers with unmentionable advertisements, and makes of every city a sink of iniquity. A civilization that converts women to prostitution faster than it does to Christian life, fills our ears with clerical scandals and our criminal courts with “Christian” defaulters; that elevates Restellism into a social institution, and leads to a prevalence of foeticide and infanticide which, if its extent were known as only physicians know, might well fill us with horror and dismay.
The Mormon can take the position of accuser, and retort upon our defenders of Protestant civilization: In striking down the sacramental obligations with which Catholicity had hedged around the marriage rite, in making it a mere civil contract between a man and a woman for sexual and other purposes, you have weakened the very foundation of society. The student of Social Science, seeing the startling increase in divorce statistics, the growing social tolerance given to marital infidelity—the general decadence, in fact, or marriage itself, may be able to comprehend the Mormon feeling of aversion.
If the Jew can receive protection and toleration in the performance of the rite of circumcision, although maiming a helpless infant for life, why not the Mormon, in entering a relation founded on mutual consent and religious conviction? The despised Mormon has taught us a lesson, in insisting that the strongest of our animal passions should be subordinated to the holiest of our human qualities; a lesson needing far different application than the passage of a “Coercion Act.”
Some men are so constituted that they cannot associate with women without having their minds inflamed with lascivious thoughts; but shame, eternal shame, on the clergymen who, imitating the refuse of our cities, speak of Mormon ladies and Mormon homes in connection with prostitution! Who would tear aside the veil religion and morals have placed around the nuptial bed, and gloat over free-love arguments! “Honi soit que mal y pense!”
Mormonism has placed not alone our civilization, but monogamy itself on trial, ye shrieking dervishes who stand up to your necks in social corruption and point your fingers in scorn at a people where every prostitute, every blackleg, every speculator in the necessities of life, and every habitual drunkard and sot, is in sympathy with you and your fellow-workers!
Why, then, this new crusade?
The opposition here we can easily understand; it is the old “Know-Nothing” appeal to passion, to prejudice, to bigotry, ceaselessly fed by Christian ministers looking at social evils through inverted telescopes. Their appeals, based upon the time-old confusion between what they believe to be moral right and their civil duty, awakens a feeling that will test our religious liberty as it has never yet been. Questions of so grave a nature are not to be acted upon on the petition of women who know nothing of the question, and who believe that there is no difference between Asiatic polygamy and Plural Marriage in a community according woman suffrage and personal liberty. I have heard it said that every “old maid” was instinctively an anti-Mormon; that is a psychological—or shall I say a pathological—feature, I do not care to discuss, their Western allies, however, are less honest.
It is a matter of common knowledge that for the most part the Federal officials sent to Utah have been political adventurers, the refuse of political conventions, destitute of moral character and of personal integrity. For years they kept the inhabitants of Salt Lake City without a title to their homes, for the purpose of “jumping claims.” After the settlement of the land disputes they have plunged into wild-cat mining speculation, and their sole object is to rob the people over whom they are placed.
Unlike other Western Territories, Utah was settled by an agricultural people. The first emigrants did not whiten the hills with their bones, leaving to others the gathering of the harvest of their labors, but lived to share in the prosperity they had created. They deemed that the true source of prosperity lay in the foundation of an agricultural basis sufficient to sustain population, and shrank from the “bowie-knife civilization” of the mining camps as destructive of substantial progress. That the Mormons are opposed to the development of the unlimited resources offered by the mines of Utah is not true; they have simply insisted upon the restrictions necessary to preserve the community from the delirium of speculation, that agriculture should have the precedence in the foundation of a State.
Land “claim jumpers” and mining speculators have been the curse of Utah, made more formidable by coming clothed in official authority. Geo. Alfred Townsend, writing in 1870, said:
Near the Townsend House, in a pleasant two-story adobe house of a gray color, is a lounging place and mess-room called the Wahsatch Club, denominated here by three-fourths of the Gentiles as the Jumpers’ Club, in allusion to the tendency of the judicial judges and their satellites to “jump” or possess without right and by force, the neighboring valuable mining claims. In this club meet by accident or design the members of the Federal Administration who are moving on the Mormon works, and at the same time upon the substantial interests of Utah.”
Nor is the situation better to-day.
All G. Campbell, the contestant for the seat of Delegate in Congress, admits in his recent article in the Century that were polygamy abolished there would still remain as much opposition to Mormonism as now. Mr. Campbell first came into notoriety by “jumping” a claim to an iron mine in Iron County, an attempt at robbery which was so utterly fraudulent that the courts rendered justice to the owner.
Gov. Murray, in one of the brief intervals his mining speculations left him to be at his post of duty, saw fit to give Mr. Campbell a certificate of election, although the poll of votes, by a fair election and secret ballot, after a thorough canvass, gave him but 1,357 to 18.568 for George Q. Cannon, basing his action upon a technicality that has not found a single supporter in the House Committee on Election.
Mormons have seen a Federal judge and a woman of disreputable character sit side by side on the bench, have found their laws against rum selling and prostitution inoperative from the protection granted by government officials, and have read in the Gentile organ (known to Mormons as the Daily Obscenist), as well as heard from the lips of a Christian clergyman, the startling affirmation that houses of ill-fame and saloons were necessary “reforming agencies” in the “emancipation” of Mormon youth! They have seen, in a recent Fourth of July celebration the carriage of Gov. Murray followed in the procession by that of a woman of notorious moral profligacy without protest, and seen those now wearing the judicial ermine shield immorality and vice.
I have before me the Salt Lake Tribune’s account of the recent anti-Polygamy mass meeting held in that city. The speakers were with the exception of the first, who was a clergyman, men sent to Utah as Federal officials, and I believe not one of them is a tax-payer. The meeting was called to represent the voice of the women of Utah and for this purpose selected to preside.—Mrs. Paddock! Gallantry forbids my saying more.
These are the men who have raised the anti-Mormon cry in their mad desire to possess themselves of Mormon wealth. The information given on previous pages of the exceptionably materially prosperity of Utah, with its towns and counties free from debt, will show what a rich placer is presented for their operations. It is these men who have spread stories of imaginary Danite marauders, who have ascribed every Indian massacre and every murder upon the Church. To further their schemes they have devised a plan of a commission of five, who are to supersede the representatives of the people—a Returning Board with power to canvass all returns and decide to whom to give certificates of election. And this measure, denying the right of local self-government, and vesting almost absolute power in the hands of the five men who may bring enough political influence to bear to secure the appointment, has passed Congress!
Many of the Gentiles in Utah, men who have vested interests at stake and who have labored to develop the resources of the Territory, have refused to join in this Crusade against a peaceable people, and view with disfavor the agitation which cannot but prevent the investment of capital and the growth of Utah’s native industries. Many of them will join in indorsing the recommendation of ex-Secretary McCullough that beyond sending them good judges and honest officials, “the Federal government should let them severely alone … for there is no danger of their being a political or social disturbance.”
Polygamy in Utah is the consecration under religious obligations of the sexual relations, yet the Edmund’s bill assumes that it is identical with bigamy, or the betrayal and desertion of a woman through false pretenses!
This bill not only brands men as criminal for following out their convictions, in which woman’s consent is a pre-requisite, but proposes to disfranchise even those who contracted plural marriage before Congress declared it to be a crime.
But in what does their crime consist? It is time to cease indulging in mere assumption, in appeals to passion and religious bigotry. In New York there is no law on the stature books defining fornication as a crime, and all our pulpits are silent! You may, if unmarried, enter into sexual relations with a dozen women, so long as you do not represent them to be wives. Call them your harlots, your concubines, anything but wife, and you are guilty of no criminality.
Would it follow that if the “miserable fanatic,” the Mormon could be induced to strike down the sacramental relation in which he holds marriage, if he should cease to give guarantees to both the woman and society to stand by the results of this relations, he would be less open to clerical rebuke? If he adopted the suggestions of the Salt Lake City Tribune, and recognized prostitutes as social missionaries, basing his sexual relations merely on animal passion, following New York rather than Biblical precedents, and lived in open and admitted fornication, there would be no law specially drafted to meet his case, the pulpit would be estopped from censure, ad Christian society compelled to look elsewhere for its sacrificial goat!
If polygamy be barbarism, our superior civilization will crush it out. But right or wrong, be careful how you deny to even a “deluded” people the right of self-government, brand their children bastards, and turn them over for relief to the sense of equity possessed by a board of politicians. We tolerate the Shakers in seeking to prohibit and prevent marriage—certainly necessary to social existence. Let us endeavor to tolerate the men who regulate marriage on religious belief, and invariably discountenance and condemn every plural marriage by an apostate as wanting in that consecration which can alone sanctify. A crusade against those who refuse to recognize civil marriage, as the Catholic, is full as legitimate, and would be attempted, were their property centralized in a Territory.
We have learned to tolerate the religious heretic—in law, at least—but not the social heretic, and the Mormon problem brings before us a test which will try our boasted liberality to the utmost. When we, as a people, go two thousand miles to deny the right of self-government because the letter, not the spirit of law permits it; when we deprive citizens of the right of franchise for acts of which those interested do not complain but indorse, and which involves no moral criminality; when we do this to a people upon whose moral character the only blot is in the non-Mormon portion, we strike a blow at the American idea of liberty and toleration that might well arouse Thomas Jefferson from his tomb.
Whatever we may think of polygamy as a social system, let us be careful how we act, and not fashion a handle for an axe which may one day strike nearer home when wielded by other passions. Are there none of our statesmen who can rise above the level of prejudice and see the danger coercive measures must lead to? If moralists choose to ignore the Golden Rule, a statesman cannot be blind to the peril involved in following a course mapped out by a few political adventurers in Utah. Leave to clergymen the honor of glorying over the possible apostasy of a few thousand Mormons from a faith which has kept them from profligacy and vice, or in their emancipation from moral control, and view the subject in a broader sense. The Mormons point to the prophecy of Joseph Smith, that the time was not far distant when they alone would be the defenders of the great principle of religious liberty; shall the fulfillment of this prophecy come through the act of the representatives of a Republic founded by Jefferson and his colleagues?
If the Mormon home is not the childless home of the Eastern capitalist, or the home of the factory operative, in which the belt of the mill connects with the cradle and weaves human lies into the manufactured fabric, it is none the less a home, consecrated by family love and sanctified by religious observances, where the mother’s devotion guides the feet of loving children.
You know the Golden Rule. Apply it in this case, or, tell me why not!