James W. Simonton (1823-1882)

“Special Correspondence”

(New York Times & San Francisco Bulletin 1858-59)

Part Two: S.F. Bulletin
  • Jul 21 '58 - S.F.B.
  • Jul 22 '58 - S.F.B.
  • Jul 23 '58 - S.F.B.
  • Jun 27 '59 - S.F.B.
  • Jun 27 '59 - S.F.B.
  • Jun 27 '59 - S.F.B.
  • Jun 27 '59 - S.F.B.
  • Jun 27 '59 - S.F.B.
  • Jun 27 '59 - S.F.B.
  • Jun 27 '59 - S.F.B.

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  • Part One: New York Times   |   1850s New York City papers   |   1850s California papers


    Vol. VI.                               San Francisco, Wed., July 21, 1858.                                 No. 88.

    Letter from the Army of Utah.

    Matters in Mormondom.


    Near Fort Bridger, W. T., June 2, 1858.      
    Believing that at no other point in the wide expanse of the continent would so much of interest centre during the present summer as here, I have transferred myself and pen to this distant and desolate region, whence I shall advise the Bulletin of the operations of the army in its efforts to subdue the Mormon hierarchy as often as opportunity to send it a letter presents itself -- exceeding doubtful, however, whether the Mormon system of espionage will not prove entirely too perfect to enable my communications to reach their destinations.

    Start from the East -- The Overland Mail Route.

    I left St. Joseph, Missouri, on the afternoon of the 1st of May, with the first train started under the Overland Mail contract, with John M. Hockaday and others. The Utah Peace Commissioners had started six days before us, but we overhauled them on the South Fork of the Platte, although they had the best possible outfit for traveling...

    The False, Palavering Policy of Gov. Cumming.

    The course pursued by Gov. Cumming -- a course which he seems to have thought it his duty to shroud in profound mystery -- the mission of Col. Thos. L. Kane to Salt Lake, and his mysterious consultations with Gov. Cumming, the appointment of the expected Peace Commission, were disjointed events, of which the Presidential proclamation now seems to have been the key and interpretation. You are already aware that Gov. Cumming has never acted in harmony with the judicial officers of the Territory or with the army. Over confident in his own genius -- self-assured that he would so skilfully palaver Brigham Young and his wives as to make the whole traitorous brood of Salt Lake docile as kittens, he has wrested his energies in temporizing efforts to coax where it was long since apparent that coercion at the cannon's mouth was the only suitable mode of solving the Mormon problem, and crushing out the theocracy so strangely attempted to be maintained within the limits of a Republic! The honesty of his motives it is not for me to discuss -- but the policy of his course as a public officer is just subject of criticism; and unless those who have studied the Mormon problem long and seriously, and who have had sorrowful experience of its intricacies, are greatly mistaken, even Gov. Cumming's grey hairs will probably blanch a shade whiter ere he dies, at sight of the evil which his mistaken course has entailed.

    Mystery of his Movements -- Supposed Secret Instructions of the President.

    To recapitulate briefly, these are the facts as they now seem to stand in regular and connected sequence: From the time of his arrival in Utah, Gov. Cumming has wrapped himself in mystery, with a policy of his own, the secret springs of which were carefully concealed from his associates here. It is now believed that he has been acting all along under secret instructions from the President, of which it is more than probable that Brigham Young has information. Next, Col. Thomas L. Kane, a sympathizer with the Mormon faith, and therefore necessarily disciple and servant of its High Priest mysteriously disappeared from Washington, and turned up in Salt Lake City, via California, on secret mission to Brigham Young. True, he denies having any "powers" from the President, and yet he was able to exhibit here and elsewhere, "letters" from the President which secured at once free entrance to this camp from Salt Lake, and free egress on his return, the confidence of Gov. Cumming, and the aid of federal officials wherever found. He was clearly an accredited agent of the President to the arch-traitor of Salt Lake, and he possessed some talismanic power which seems to have inclined Brigham Young to recall his oath, that no new Governor should enter the territory, and to send Kane out to Bridger to bring Gov. Cumming in. What was this talisman? And what was the subject of the several interviews between Kane and Cumming, which finally resulted in the journey of the latter into Salt Lake -- interviews and procedings still conducted with the most profound secrecy from General Johnston and Judge Eckles? The Proclamation is thought to furnish the key, and it is supposed that the President, in his agony lest the Mormons should either go to Sonora, and so render that province impossible of acquisition, or else should compel him to accept the responsibility of forcing the people of Salt Lake to obedience of the law, determined to send a Mormon emissary to Brother Brigham to notify him that he would soon send out Commissioners with a bushel of printed proclamations pardoning all their past offences, provided they would only consent to sham obedience to the law in future and so let the Federal Administration get its fingers out of [the pie?]...

    Col. Kane Re-baptized a Mormon -- More of the "Prophet's" Talk.

    It may be proper here to state that Mr. James was told by Bishop Butler, of Spanish Fork, that Colonel Kane was re-baptized and received his endowments immediately upon his arrival at Salt Lake from California.

    In Provo City, on the Sunday following Cumming's visit there, Brigham, in a sermon, spoke as follows: "Governor Cumming has been here and promised the people protection, indeed! but the poor, lousy old curse cannot protect himself, much less anybody else. Why, I have to send a guard, armed, with him to prevent the people from cutting his throat."...

    U. S. Marshal Dotsen and Gov. Cumming.

    United States Marshal Dotsen -- a painstaking officer, mildly deliberate in the consideration of his duty as he is firm and resolute in its performance -- addressed an official letter to Gov. Cumming on the 25th May, asking him to provide him with a posse sufficient to enable him to arrest Brigham Young and others for treason and other crimes. The Governor instead of complying with the request, addressed a letter to the Marshal, asking him when the U. S. Court will meet again, and demanding his evidence to support the assertion that the Territory is in a state of rebellion! and asking whether he had made efforts to serve the writs and met the "resistance" in their service without which he (the Governor) in his Proclamation of the 21st Nov., 1857, had declared that he would not resort to a military posse. The Marshal's letter, it should be borne in mind, said nothing whatever about a military posse....

    In February last, Mr. James had an interview with Kenosh, the Chief of the Paravants band of Indians, who have for some time past been the willing instruments of Bishop Young's murderous purposes in the South. Kenosh was on his way to Salt Lake. James offered his hand, and was refused -- the Chief saying he would not shake hands with an American -- as they call all Gentiles. He was dressed at the time in civilized costume, with clothing which James identified as that belonging to a teamster. He asked Kenosh where he got the clothes. Kenosh replied that he had killed an American, and taken the clothes from his body, and to prove this assertion showed a hole in the side of the coat and another in the pants, made by the bullets from his rifle when he shot his victim. Kenosh proceeded to say that he had killed a good many Americans, and had had plenty of wagons and cattle and $1,500 in money, which he had taken from Americans -- of whom he intended to kill all he could find. He said Brigham was his father now; that Brigham talked good to him, and was the only man he would listen to.

    Pintutts having requested James to ask Brigham for some ammunition, James referred the request to Brigham's interpreter, Dimmick Huntington, who said: "Why don't Pintutts do as Kenosh does, and then he won't be begging all the time. He is an old fool and won't listen to what Brigham says. If he did he would be better off. There's Kenosh who does as Brigham tells him, and has all he wants, wagons, horses, cattle and $1,500 in cash. You tell him from me that if he will turn out with all his band as Kenosh has done, in two months he will be a rich man. James related the answer to Pintutts who said he would prefer to beg rather than follow such advice....

    (under construction)


    Vol. VI.                               San Francisco, Thurs., July 22, 1858.                                 No. 89.



    (We have received by the direct Overland Mail from Utah, from our Special Correspondent in that Territory, an immense mass of valuable and interesting correspondence, regarding the Army of Utah and the proceedings of the Mormons. The first letter of the series, dated Fort Bridger, 2d June, was published by us yesterday. The succeeding letters, in order to avoid anticipated Mormon espionage, were forwarded in such a way as to baffle any suspicions of their character; but, unfortunately, owing to that very circumstance, they did not reach us till this morning. Our columns cannot contain the whole of our correspondent's dispatches; and we must therefore be contented with laying before our readers to-day, the last letter, in order of date, which has been received. It brings up the news to the latest moment, and will be found very interesting. -- Ed. Bulletin.)

    GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, U. T., July 4, 1858.   

    Scene of the Army of Utah Entering Salt Lake Valley.

    The Army of Utah, under command of Brevet Brigadier General Johnston, entered this Valley on Saturday, the 26th June...

    (under construction)


    Vol. VI.                               San Francisco, Friday, July 23, 1858.                                 No. 90.

    Continuation of Letter from Great Salt Lake

    The Mormons at Hone.


    GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, U. T., July 4, 1858.    

    Sabbath Services in Provo City -- Brother Whitlock.

    The services on Sabbath morning in the "Bowery" at Provo were opened by the Postmaster, who read from the preacher's stand a list of letters remaining uncalled for, and which were handed out to the parties present entitled to them. The addresses of some of these were peculiar. One was addressed to somebody at "Parowan, Iron Co., America." How it found its way out in this wilderness, it is difficult to say. This postal proceeding was followed by a native requesting all the old police of Great Salt Lake City to repair there at once, as their services were needed. The choir sang a hymn, a very appropriate prayer was offered, and then, after another hymn, Brother Whitlock, who was an apostate from Mormonism many years ago, but had recently returned, was called to the stand by President Brigham Young. He declared his modesty in coming before so large an audience, but said he hoped that they would, in the language of the Scotch poet Burns, have the gift to see him as he was. It was evident that he had not recently consulted the poet whom he attempted to quote. The speaker said it was very mysterious to him that persons who had walked from ten to twenty years in Mormonism had just discovered lately that it was a hoax and humbug, a discovery which quite a number have already made, with the aid of an army at hand to protect them.

    Origin of Mormon Apostasy -- Joseph Smith's Preaching the Gospel.

    The fact was -- so the speaker declared -- these apostates had had difficulties with their Bishops, and from the Bishops had traced the trouble up to President Young, and from President Young back to Joseph Smith, and thus have been led to declare that Joseph was no Prophet and that the Book of Mormon is the chimera of their own brain. The speaker proceeded with an argument to prove that Joseph Smith was a prophet, with the purpose of strengthening the doubting who wrre in danger of apostasy. When Joseph was first informed by the angel of his destiny he marvelled at it. Considering his condition as a poor and friendless boy, without education, he marvelled at the angel's declaration that his name was to "be had for good or evil among all the nations of the earth." But this prophecy had already within thirty years been miraculously fulfilled -- for the Mormon Gospel had been preached in every land, and its first exponent had been praised and traduced in all.

    A Mormon Prophecy Fulfilled.

    Joseph also early in his history had a revelation, which he declared required the Saints to purchase the whole region of country around Jackson county, Missouri, telling them that if they obtained it by purchase they should be blessed; but that if they got it by blood their enemies would be upon them and they would be hunted from place to place. Well, difficulty occurred; the Saints felt that they had the right to shed blood in self-defence, and they were driven from place to place, precisely as foretold, until they arrived at last in these mountains. Brother Whitlock declared that no prophecy was ever fulfilled more thoroughly than this. To Gentile ears it certainly was a very natural result that just such consequences should follow the attempt to acquire property by blood -- gold and silver, and not blood, being the generally accepted medium of trade in the United States.

    More Proofs of Mormonism -- Given for what they are Worth.

    The speaker next took up the Book of Mormon, which he declared to be simply a history, and a true one, of the forefathers of the aborigines of America. The revelator, speaking through Joseph's lips in that book, declared that many should receive this testimony, and many should be put to death for it. How could Joseph suppose, when those words passed his lips, that he was uttering his own death-warrant? Mr. Whitlock proceeded, with a good deal of excitement, to exptiate upon the "bloody deeds" of Nauvoo and Carthage, claiming them as another fulfillment of prophecy. Another prophecy, the fulfillment of which he believed to be near at hand, was one in which Joseph declared that the time should come when this nation should divide -- when the South should rise up against the North, and the North against the South. It did not seem possible, then, that such a thing could be; but how evident it is now, continued the speaker, that the knife and the shears are already sharpened and in the hands of men who are ready to cut the web which holds the Union together.

    If such expressions by Joseph Smith prove him a prophet , how his lustre pales before John C. Calhoun, and what a nest of prophets we have had from time to time in Congress! I have given quite enouhgj of Mr. Whitlock's somewhat disjointed and incoherent declamation, which, however, had more of thought in it then any other I have heard from Mormon lips, for it is a remarkable fact that none of them present us with any clear, straight-forward, connected arguments upon a simple point. All their productions are full of holes as is a broken net. In conclusion, Mr. Whitlock begged the doubting and wavering to reflect on what he had said to them, and to try to get the spirit of God and those principles which would beget "obedience to counsel" (civility to the Mormon priesthood) and faith.

    John the Baptist and Joseph Smith.

    The speaker proceeded further to enforce the truth of Joseph's divine mission by stating that Joseph had declared that the first [sic] person who visited him was John the Baptist, who subsequently came to him in physical body and person and ordained him to the lesser priesthood, just as 1800 years ago he ordained Christ. Mr. Whitlock protested that there was nothing unreasonable in the supposition that John the Baptist, though beheaded, really did appear in his natural body to ordain Joseph...

    (under construction)


    Vol. VIII.                               San Francisco, Monday, June 27, 1859.                                 No. 69.

    The Editor of the "Bulletin" and Dr. Gwin
    -- The Sublimity of Falsehood


    A lie oft repeated comes at last to be believed, even by its utterer; and, if uncontradicted, may sometimes impress itself upon honest hearers. The editor of the San Francisco Times is an adept in falsification, and has all the rules of this "black art" at ready command.... The "lies by inference" in which the Times editor delights when referring to the Bulletin are so numerous, transparent, and absurd, that we cannot waste the time necessary even to their enumeration. We will content ourselves with fastening upon him the chief of his "lies direct," and having done that we shall find little further need to advertise one who would sink into insignificance, except for the consequence derived from respectable exposure of his mendacity. The particular falsehood with which we propose now to deal, consists in the assertion that the editor of the Bulletin is under some sort of obligation to Senator Gwin.

    At first the Times published the direct charge that Dr. Gwin had furnished the money used in purchasing our interest in this journal; that we had made the purchase in his interest; and that, per consequence, the Bulletin was to be his advocate and supporter. Since then it has been almost constantly harping upon the same string...

    For the more thorough exposure to public scorn of the creature whose moral nature we are dissecting, we beg leave to intrude upon the our readers a brief and frank statement of our relations with Dr. Gwin. Personally, they have been kind. We met him at Washington just as we met there a hundred other men of all parties during some fourteen years experience at the Federal capital. As the correspondent for eight years of the New York Times, it was our business and our duty to know the representative men of the Union there assembled.

    As the correspondent of the Bulletin, it became especially our duty to be personally familiar with the representatives from California; to know what they were doing for their constituents, and make report. In this way we became acquainted with Dr. Gwin.... As correspondent of the Bulletin, whose office it was to report, and not make, facts, we stated from time to time what Senator Gwin was doing... No man knows better than does the Times editor that we never sympathized with the Senator in a single point of political sentiment...

    And now we return to the specific charge made by the Times; and we have a few words for the ear of its editor. You, Charles A. Washburn, have stated that the editor of the Bulletin was under pecuniary obligation to Dr. Gwin; and all your cunning misrepresentations of lesser grade, in the same direction, depend for their consequence entirely upon that original falsehood. It is within the range of possibility that in the beginning you were misled, and made the misstatement without malicious intent. We denied it promptly and publicly, in the most emphatic terms. Subsequently we informed you in friendly conversation, in the presence of your own associates, that the story was utterly baseless; that we had scrupulously avoided placing ourselves under the shadow of an obligation to any public man whatever. Especially did we inform you that we were not indebted to Dr. Gwin, and never had been for a single instant, directly or indirectly, to the value of a single farthing... We call for your proofs. Do not presume that an enlightened and just public sentiment will rilerate any longer your jesuitical inferences and suspicions. You must come forward with some more solid basis for your infamous charge; and until you do, we bid you stand before this community branded as a willful and malicious falsifier!

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