"Ecclesiastical Control in Utah"
North American Review
(NYC: January, 1884)
NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
ECCLESIASTICAL CONTROL IN UTAH.
A REPORT has been spread far and wide through the country that in Utah there exists "a combination to nullify the laws of Congress," to defeat the plain will of that body and of the Executive, and also to thwart the adjudication of the Supreme Court of the United States. This is an error. The simple fact is that the citizens of Utah are contending in a peaceable and legal manner for the same rights, privileges, and immunities that are possessed by their fellow-citizens -- for these only, and no more.
Some time after the Edmunds bill became law, the commissioners appointed by the President under its provisions came to this Territory and entered upon the discharge of their duties. With regard to the nature and scope of those duties, the commissioners (gentlemen for whom we have much respect) and the vast majority of the people of Utah hold opposite views. One of their first acts was to frame a test oath, which they required every man to take before he would be permitted to vote. By this coup d'etat every citizen in Utah -- Jew, Gentile, and Mormon -- was disfranchised without indictment and without trial: a most summary method of robbing a people of their rights, one that we claim is entirely opposed to both the letter and the spirit of that great charter of human rights, the Constitution of the
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United States -- an instrument for which, be it said, we have the most profound reverence, believing, as we do, that those who framed it were inspired of the Almighty.
This unconstitutional exaction, which "at one fell swoop" for the time being disfranchised a whole Territory, amounted to this, that a man must swear that he had never simultaneously lived with more than one woman "in the marriage relation." Those who cohabited with more than one woman in adultery or prostitution were not affected by its provisions. The roue, the libertine, the strumpet, the brothel-keeper, the adulterer and adulteress could all vote; no matter how licentious a man or woman might be, all were screened and protected by this law. It was not enacted, as has been supposed, to punish licentiousness and debauchery, but was aimed expressly against those who were associated with more than one woman "in the marriage relation." All, indeed, had their franchise protected except the man who had now, or ever had had, more than one wife, or the woman who had ever been the wife of a polygamist, be she the first, second, or other wife. For the commissioners were such broad constructionists that they declared that no man or woman who ever had been a member of a family practicing plural marriage should be permitted to vote. This action was ex post facto in the extreme. It punished men and women without trial, by robbing them of the franchise for doing acts which, at the time when they were done, were not unlawful.
It was, at the same time, a bill of attainder. The first anti-polygamy law of Congress was passed in 1862, and all those who had, previous to that time, from deep religious conviction, received and entered into that order of marriage, but had never broken a law of the United States by so doing, for the simple reason that there was no such law, were, by the commissioners' rulings, equally debarred from voting with those who had married in plurality subsequent to that date. We claim that this ruling is eminently unjust, altogether unprecedented, and in violation of the Constitution. But at the same time, in justice to the commissioners, it must not be forgotten that they had a very difficult and delicate task to perform, so much was expected by the country from them, as the executors of the Edmunds law, the passage of which had been procured by the influence of religious fanatics and political demagogues. They found things, on their arrival, so different from what they had anticipated,
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that it was impossible for them to meet the exorbitant demands of the country and at the same time comply with the requirements of the law. As one of their number expresses it in his communication to Secretary Teller, they "stretched the legal tether to its utmost tension." Yet, on the other hand, as honorable men and representatives of the Government, it was incumbent on them to comply with the plain provisions of the law.
What, then, did the polygamists -- men and their wives -- do under these circumstances? They voluntarily withdrew, and left the franchise in the hands of those who were unmarried or, if married, had only one wife. Governor Murray has said in his report that we were nullifiers. Was this nullification? What could we do more? The people quietly, peaceably, and unitedly, without exception, bowed to the fiat of the commission. In what stronger manner could they show their loyalty, their respect for Congress, and their deference to the law, than by this course? Not only were they not nullifiers, but they would not act the part of obstructionists; they actually aided the commission to execute the law, even in the extreme construction that body put upon its language. And by reason of this action on their part the elections that have taken place under the rule of the commission have been conducted without hindrance, obstruction, confusion, or annoyance.
The remarkable interpolation in the commissioners' test oath of the words "in the marriage relation," which do not appear in the law, has led to many curious incidents, some of which would be ludicrous if they were not so humiliating. Here is a case in point: A former mayor of Salt Lake City, Mr. Peramorz Little, a very honorable gentleman and highly respected, came to this Territory many years ago, before there was any law of Congress against plural marriage, and espoused two wives. Subsequently, one of these wives died, then the other, and at the time that this incident occurred he had been for years without a wife. He had a son who was appointed registrar for a certain district in this city, and this son had the mortification of being compelled, under the riding of the commission, to refuse his father permission to register, and consequently deprived him of the right to vote -- a privilege which he had a perfect right to exercise, both because of the provision in the Constitution that no ex post facto law shall be made, and again by reason of the statute of limitations, which
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bars all action in any such cases after the expiration of three years. Soon after the refusal of the registrar to place his name on the registration list, a well-known keeper of a bagnio and her associates presented themselves, and the son had the humiliation of having to permit them to register. These courtesans afterward voted. Another case: A man came to the place of registration, and remarked to the officer that he supposed he could not register, as he had a wife and also kept a mistress. This man might be considered a very straightforward fellow to make so ready an acknowledgment, but I fail to see anything straightforward in such a crooked transaction as the breaking of the marriage vows and in marital infidelity. But the officer knew what was in the oath better than did this man, and advised him to read it. He did so. When he came to the words, "in the marriage relation," he immediately said, "Yes, I see. I can go that," and was at once sworn and registered.
So it will be perceived that under the official construction of the law the most depraved, the vilest of mankind, can vote, can use the franchise and enjoy the benefits resulting therefrom, and that this portion of the United States is actually threatened with being governed by such an element. And though we quietly submit for the time being, and though some ten or twelve thousand persons have absented themselves from the polls because of the law, yet we are charged with being a menace to the United States, with being inimical to the Constitution and Government, simply because we have undertaken to legitimately and legally test in the courts, as we have the most perfect right to do, the legality and constitutionality of the law and the commissioners' rulings. Could we pursue any wiser course? Should we be worthy of the name of men, much less of freemen, if we permitted these grave encroachments on our rights without one effort in their defense? We shall not follow the course of the Fenians or the Nihilists, or Ku Klux or Regulators, or Communists or Molly Maguires, or other such combinations, nor appeal to dynamite or gunpowder; but, having a high regard for the institutions of our country, we prefer to adopt the means which the law has provided, and legally, constitutionally, and peaceably seek redress for our wrongs. We do this in behalf of our own rights, in behalf of the rights of our children, and in behalf of millions of honorable men in the United States, and of the principles of freedom throughout the
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world. For if radicalism, imperialism, oligarchy, and despotism are to bear rule, and the rights of franchise to be refused to citizens by the dictum of commissioners, without a hearing, without proof, and without trial; if test oaths are to take the place of courts and legal testimony, and one principle of liberty after another nullified; if our Constitution, our laws, and the fundamental principles of our Government are to be trampled under foot, it would seem to be high time that all honorable men should stand up in defense of liberty and the rights of man. It is vain to talk of the freedom of the negro while the white man is sought to be disfranchised, manacled, and enslaved. If the course we propose is a menace to good government, what in the name of common sense would those who are offended with our course have us do?
Here let me remark that there is a great deal of misapprehension existing in the minds of the people with regard to our marriage institution. None but the very best of our community -- the virtuous, the honest, and upright -- are permitted to take more than one wife. They must be recommended as worthy by their bishop, and by the president of the stake in which they reside. We are, of all people, the most strict in our ideas with regard to morality and virtue. If a man who is a member of our church commit adultery, fornication, or bigamy, he is at once cut off from the communion of the saints, and all fellowship in the church is withdrawn from him; for we regard those sins as among the most abominable of evils, the most heinous next to the shedding of innocent blood. There is not to-day a more virtuous community in the world, or one where female chastity is more highly regarded or more vigorously protected. There is another point that is misunderstood by the people generally; it is with regard to the illegality of plural marriage.
Many persons suppose that there is some provision in the United States Constitution touching this subject. This is an error. The Constitution leaves all matters relating to marriage to be regulated by the people of the various States; and hence it is that so many diversified marriage and divorce codes exist throughout the country. Congress claims the power to regulate these matters in the Territories. We do not admit that this right belongs to the General Government, but claim that in matters of local concern the Territorial Legislative Assemblies are manifestly the proper parties to act in the premises. It is
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provided in the organic act of Utah "That the Legislative power of said Territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act." It is evident, according to the spirit and genius of American institutions, that Congress should not interfere with matters in the Territories that in States are left to the States; nor should Congress pass laws for a Territory that a State Legislature cannot pass for its State. But of late Congress has frequently overstepped these bounds, and to that extent are the liberties of American citizens in the Territories imperiled and abridged. Congress, without making grave mistakes, can not legislate on local subjects for the whole country. As an instance, take the Timber act, which may be a very valuable enactment for Maine or Michigan, but is entirely inconsistent with the conditions of the Rocky Mountain region; there it degenerates into a farce and an annoyance. It has been argued in Congress that the British nation considered that it had authority to regulate social affairs in its foreign possessions, and that in the exercise of this right it put an end to the practice of the suttee; and that because the British did this, therefore it was proper for Congress to do away with the practice of polygamy. Do those who argue thus ever reflect that while the suttee brought about the destruction of life, polygamy means the propagation and the perpetuation of the human species? and furthermore, did it never occur to them that while Great Britain suppressed the suttee, it has not only tolerated but legislated to protect in their institutions upward of 240,000,000 of its polygamic subjects in India?
Much has been said of late about the militia of Utah, and of calling upon the military to assist in the execution of the processes of the courts. The fact is that we now have no militia. In accordance with the provisions of the United States Constitution, which says, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," the Territorial Legislature, during one of its earliest sessions, passed an excellent militia law. This body was a bulwark of defense against Indian raids; in fact, so highly was it valued that it has been called out by the General Government to suppress Indian hostilities, whilst the regular troops lay idly by at Fort Douglas. Such service was rendered in one raid to the value of more than one million
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dollars, but the militia received no pay. But one rash and inconsistent governor, Shaeffer, unconstitutionally abolished the whole array; and it was even forbidden to have a troop of horsemen or a company of infantry take part in the celebration of the Fourth of July, under pain of the procession celebrating the birthday of liberty being fired upon by the troops brought down from Camp Douglas for the purpose.
Complaint is made that in Utah an "unlawful Territorial government, which for over thirty years has existed in the face of Congress and the country, exists to-day." This is unequivocally false. The government of the Territory is established upon laws sanctioned by the United States Congress, and at all times subject to repeal by the National Legislature. Reference probably is intended to the nomination, by Governor Murray, of the members of the Board of Regents of the University of Deseret, whom he assumed to appoint under a clause in the organic act that provided, in the first place, for the Governor to appoint certain officers and the Legislative Assembly to confirm them. But subsequently the Territory enacted statutes for the election of these officers, -- some by the votes of the people, and some by the joint vote of the two houses of the Legislative Assembly, -- which laws having been approved by the various governors, and never having been disapproved by Congress, are in force to-day, as truly as the rest of the laws of the Territory, for they all stand on the same footing. So, instead of there being an unlawful Territorial government, it is strictly lawful; whilst the Governor assumes the right to annul our statutes, and override and trample under foot all of our laws which do not suit his convenience or his purposes -- though some of these enactments have been in force almost as long as Utah has been a Territory. Again, under his strained construction of the "Hoar Amendment" to the Congressional Appropriation Bill, he went to work to dispossess scores of officers of their official positions by nominating others. The law provides that the officers in question shall be elected by the vote of the people, and that they shall hold office until their successors are elected and qualified. The commissioners allowed the election to lapse, so the incumbents held over under the law; but the Governor disregarded the provision entirely, and appointed a full set of officers. The Governor, under the "Hoar Amendment," had certainly the right to fill the vacancies caused by failure to
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elect; but there were no vacancies in those cases where the law directly and unequivocally provided that the officers should hold their respective offices until their successors were "elected and qualified." The cases wherein there existed a vacancy under the law were few; but, in spite of the provisions to the contrary, the Governor claimed that every office subject to election was vacant, and that in every instance he could appoint a successor. Thus did he, by reason of the negligence of the commission in not providing for the election of 1882, seek to deprive the people of the rights of franchise, and place the whole community under creatures of his appointment, in direct contravention of the "hold over" clause of the law regulating the same.
It is sometimes ignorantly or maliciously asserted that Mormonism is not a religion. What presumption for one set of men to declare that the faith and religious tenets of others are not a religion! Farewell to religious liberty when this is admitted. Soon the dominant sects in the land would secure religious uniformity by declaring all other bodies of worshipers non-relgionists. When one man is permitted to decide what another's religion shall be, and to set metes and bounds beyond which he may not travel, then religious liberty is simply a misleading name, a delusion and a snare.
If the following oft-published tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- which are among the leading articles of the Mormon faith -- do not constitute it a religion, and moreover a Christian religion, what does constitute religion in the eyes of those who assert to the contrary? We should be pleased to peruse their reply:
"We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
"We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
"We believe that, through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
"We believe that these ordinances are: First, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; Second, Repentance; Third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; Fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
"We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by laying on of hands, by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
"We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive viz.: Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, Evangelists, etc.
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"We believe in the gifts of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.
"We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.
"We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
"We believe in the literal gathering of Israel, and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth, and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiac glory.
"We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
"We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.
"We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul. We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."
The whole history of the Mormons has shown that they are a religious people. Their early persecutions they endured on account of their peculiar religious views and practices. They came to Utah not, as alleged, to erect an establishment of religion contrary to the Constitution and laws, but to found a State where all sects would have equal rights to worship God according to the dictates of the consciences of their members, which right the Latter-day Saints had been denied in Missouri and Illinois. When they came here, Utah formed a part of Mexico. Five hundred of their co-religionists were then enlisted in the service of the United States, as the "Mormon Battalion," fighting the sister republic. One of the first things done by the Mormon people after their arrival in what is now Utah, was to raise the stars and stripes and establish American institutions and laws as quickly as their isolated position -- more than a thousand miles from the western frontier -- would permit; they next applied to Congress for a State Government. Ever since that time they have endeavored to attend peaceably to their own affairs, and keep the laws of the land, -- as required in the revelations given through the prophet Joseph Smith -- notwithstanding the repeated and almost unceasing efforts of political demagogues and sectarian zealots to stir up hatred, malice, confusion and disorder. It is alleged by His Excellency Governor
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Murray that on a former occasion we were in a state of rebellion. The charges, made by certain Federal officials, of rebellion and disloyalty, and of burning the United States Court records and the books in the Territorial Library, which led to the sending of the army under General Johnston to Utah in 1857, were officially reported to be false by Governor Cumming on his arrival. He reported:
"Since my arrival I have been employed in examining the records of the Supreme and District Courts, which I am now prepared to report as being perfect and unimpaired. This will doubtless be acceptable information to those who have entertained an impression to the contrary.
"I have also examined the Legislative Records and other books belonging to the office of Secretary of State, which are in perfect preservation.
"The condition of the large and valuable Territorial Library has also commanded my attention; and I am pleased in being able to report that Mr. W. C. Staines, the librarian, has kept the books and records in most excellent condition. I will, at an early day, transmit a catalogue of this library, and schedules of the other public property, with certified copies of the records of the Supreme and District Courts, exhibiting the character and amount of the public business last transacted in them."
Thus it appears that the allegations made by Judge Drummond and others were untrue, and that the army was sent out under false representations. In like manner we are able to demonstrate that other charges of supposed weight and moment urged against the people of Utah are equally false and insubstantial. The most terrible accusation of any particular crime ever brought against the leaders of the Church and the Church generally, is participation in the Mountain Meadow massacre. Some have supposed that the Mormon people never fairly and squarely met this charge, but prevaricated or evaded it. There could not be a greater mistake. The Latter-day Saints abhor murder in every form, and the Church or its leaders had nothing to do with that terrible tragedy in any manner whatever. We wish this denial to be as emphatic as possible. And, furthermore, the leader of the few whites who were engaged with the Indians in that horrible affair never would have been brought to justice but for the assistance rendered the United States officers by President Brigham Young and other leaders of the Church; while the jury that convicted him was largely composed of men of our faith. No denial can be worded too strongly to express our detestation of the shedding of innocent blood; and we hold, further, that all culprits worthy of death and we
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believe some crimes can only be atoned for by the life of the guilty party -- should be executed by the proper civil officer, not by any exercise of the lex talionis or the intervention of ecclesiastical authority. With regard to the Mountain Meadow massacre, the testimony of United States Prosecuting Attorney Sumner Howard -- himself no friend to the Mormon people -- is valuable. At the trial of John D. Lee for participancy in that crime, Mr. Howard said:
"He had been engaged constantly during the past three months in sifting facts and everything related to or connected with the massacre, and that he had come there for the purpose of trying John D. Lee, because the evidence pointed to him as the main instigator and leader, and he had given the jury unanswerable documentary evidence proving that the authorities of the Mormon Church knew nothing of the butchery till after it was committed; and that Lee, in his letter to Brigham Young, a few weeks after, had knowingly misrepresented the actual facts relative to the massacre, seeking to keep him still in the dark and in ignorance. He had all the assistance any United States official could ask on earth in any case; nothing had been kept back, and he was determined to clear the calendar; but he did not intend to prosecute any one lured to the Meadows at the time, some of whom were only boys, and knew nothing of the vile plan which Lee originated and carried out for the destruction of the emigrants."
It is commonly believed that "an ecclesiastical government exists in Utah to-day, intended to meet all requirements as to the temporal affairs of men in this Territory." This is another fallacy. Our Church courts are simply courts of reconciliation or arbitration between Church members, and for determining charges of transgression, and in no way affect the civil powers or the duties and rights of the various courts of law, Federal or local. That this is so is proven by the fact that there is not a member of the Church who is not just as amenable to the laws of the State as any non-Mormon. The decisions of the Church courts carry no penalties of a civil character; all they can do is to withdraw the fellowship of the Church from wrong-doers. These courts consist of presidents of stakes, high councils, bishops, etc. The bishop and his counselors exercise an ecclesiastical jurisdiction to settle difficulties arising between Church members. If parties are not satisfied with their decisions, they can appeal to what is known as the High Council, a body composed of the president of a stake and his counselors, and twelve other high priests, which body forms an ecclesiastical court to hear testimony and decide on matters brought before them. In
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this way nine-tenths of the difficulties arising between Church members are settled without going to law, and without any expense whatever.
Complaint is made that the Church of Latter-day Saints holds property of a value in excess of $50,000 in Utah. Has it become a crime, then, to be punished by spoliation and confiscation, to erect beautiful buildings for religious and charitable purposes? It is true we are erecting one beautiful structure on a piece of ground held by the Church before the prohibitory act was passed, which has already cost probably $2,500,000; but it would be going back to barbarism indeed to forbid by Act of Congress the erection of all but the most primitive structures in which to worship God or perform acts of charity. And, again, the Latter-day Saints are not the only religious body that owns more than the prescribed $50,000 in the Territories; others would be affected equally with us if this ill-considered law was enforced in the manner desired.
It is customary for persons in talking about the marriage relations of the Latter-day Saints to confound bigamy with plural marriage -- commonly miscalled polygamy. There is in bigamy the essence of fraud which makes it the grievous crime that it is. A man contracts to marry a woman, until death does them part, and keep himself for her and her only. In violation of this covenant he unlawfully marries another, breaking his vows with the first, leading astray and ruining the second, and deceiving the minister or officer who performs the ceremony. In plural marriage there is no fraud, no deception, no breaking of the marriage contract. The parties who marry according to the rites of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are united for time and eternity. They know that plural marriage is a doctrine of the Church, and accept the obligations of married life with that understanding. When a man thus circumstanced takes a second wife he breaks no vows, he deceives no one. All parties interested in the arrangement are acquainted with the facts, and both first and second wives understand the position they occupy toward their husband: that they are both his wives and he their husband, with hopes and affections reaching out into the next world, where they anticipate that their union will be eternal.
In plural marriage a man is expected to provide for all his wives and their children. We have no waifs and strays such as
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are found in the large cities of Christendom -- the results of men breaking the laws of social purity. The children of our families do not gravitate to the poor-house, for we have no such establishments in the Territory; and our poor are cared for by the bishops and by the members of our ladies' relief societies.
We do not wish to complain, otherwise we might refer to some acts that have been to us very offensive. Houses of assignation, bagnios, gambling houses, drinking saloons, and other disreputable establishments are not our institutions, but are importations. The efforts of the municipal authorities to suppress them have been defeated by the rulings of the Federal courts. With all deference to His Excellency Governor Murray, we think that his act in giving the certificate of election to Allen G. Campbell, Esq., who only obtained 1357 votes for Delegate to the Forty-seventh Congress, as against Hon. George Q. Cannon, who received 18,568 votes for said office, does not tend to inspire the greatest confidence in his official capacity.
The Mormon question to-day really resolves itself into the query whether a small and unscrupulous minority, for private ends and personal aggrandizement, shall prevail upon the Government of this nation to destroy every vestige of republican liberty in Utah, or whether the grand and glorious principles upon which this great government is founded shall be extended to all people alike who dwell under the flag which is regarded throughout the world as the symbol of freedom and equal rights.
THAT the country has resolved to get at the bottom facts in Utah affairs, and to reform the social and political status of that Territory, is a fact patent to every observer of the currents of popular opinion and popular sentiment. But what is the remedy for the abuses which exist in Utah? Always slow to act, except in great emergencies, the people and Congress have long deferred taking decisive action. The reasons for this are at once apparent when we remember the conditions of the country during the past twenty-five years, with graver questions ever pressing for a settlement; the remoteness of the Territory with its great crime; and the not unsuccessful efforts of the Mormon leaders
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to keep the country in ignorance of their designs and actions through the machinations of adroit and unscrupulous agents throughout the country, in Salt Lake City, and at Washington.
If it be true that crime prevails and criminals control in Utah; that from the very beginning "the legislation of Utah has been inimical to and subversive of the Federal authority within the Territory;" that an unlawful government has existed there for thirty years; that taxes are levied upon the minority to build schools upon church property into which the children of that minority do not and should not enter; and that laws of Congress are nullified: if it be true, that by territorial statute the whole system of immigration has been given over to the Church; that thousands of "assisted" immigrants have been and are now gathered from abroad; that escheats and confiscations for this immigration fund have been provided for by the territorial legislatures; that fanaticism imposes upon ignorance, and that avarice feeds upon industry under authority of this legislation; that laws have been enacted "respecting an establishment of religion" in violation of the Federal Constitution: if it be true, that Congress and civilization have denounced the "plural wife" system as bigamy; that the appeals of virtue, and the hopes of helpless children born and yet to be born are unheeded, and the unholy system defiantly upheld, defended and practiced in Utah; that a territorial law establishes a new process of naturalization by conferring the right of suffrage upon alien women, when they become wives, without the qualification of time as required by national law; that this system has spread into other Territories the property of the United States, and is Occupying the public lands: if these propositions be true, and if these evils exist by the act of legislatures created by authority of Congress and paid out of the Treasury of the United States, then the time is fully come when so vicious a system should be destroyed and such agency of government abolished. These and other facts have been presented to the country during many years by the bench and bar, and by forty thousand American citizens of all creeds and parties in that inter-mountain region.
If they are not true, Congress should repeal much of its past legislation, certainly all that recognizes as true any of the counts charged; should serve notice on the American citizens there that their testimony is regarded as false, that they are "outsiders" in their own land; and should summarily dismiss all
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representatives of the Government who bear this false witness and censure all officers, both civil and military, who in the past have made like reports. This, it seems to me, would be fair to all alike, and is certainly demanded by the family and business interests of all in Utah. With such action, however, on the part of the Government, the constantly avowed wish and dream of the polygamous leaders would be realized, and a marked advance made in their design "to supplant this, and all other governments." It is fair to presume that fifty millions of "outsiders" in this country would regard such action as absurd.
A writer whose honesty of purpose I respect has said: "Trying to uproot Mormonism by force, or by the enactment of any penal or prohibitory laws whatsoever, will prove in the future, as it has all along in the past, simply abortive." It must be remembered by the theorists, and understood by the country, that there has been no remedial legislation ever passed by Congress. The "Edmunds bill" contained much that was effective, but does not provide the remedy. It was evidently intended by the Senator from Vermont to prepare a way for the "Mormons" to correct the existing evils themselves through a monogamous legislature returned under its provisions. The legislatures heretofore have been polygamist by a large majority.
The existing one is monogamous, and unanimously "Mormon." Giving credit for sincerity of profession, it follows that Mormon polygamists are to be preferred in honor and respect before the Mormon monogamist: the polygamist "lives his religion," the monogamist does not. I fail to see that the monogamist who upholds, defends, and supports an institution that outrages both virtue and the law is better, or as good, as the man who, professing a belief, is consistent enough to practice it. Mormon monogamists pinion womanhood, while polygamists debauch it.
Neither will or can provide the remedy. The remedy must come from Congress, which alone can provide it. But, congressional legislation falling short of the remedy, has, as suggested by the writer quoted, proved abortive, only making the adherents to Mormonism more united.
In dealing with the question of government in Utah I speak of "Mormonism" only so far as it aims to establish religion by means of political power vested in its adherents, and to perpetuate an illegal and unrepublican government; so far as it inculcates crime, and engages in conspiracy to nullify the laws
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of Congress. The Mormons known as the "Reorganized Church" are entitled to the respect of all, and that Church recognizes and receives in common with all others every protection under the constitutional guarantee. But polygamous Mormonism, which has overridden the Constitution, nullified Federal legislation, and defied the Government, has made of Utah a deformed child. The surgeon who takes in hand the case of a deformed child who may be cured, must not be deterred from performing the necessary operation because of the protests and cries of the patient. To allow it to grow into manhood, helpless and a burden to its kindred, would be criminal. In this case Congress is the surgeon, and must perform the operation. As it is the duty of a parent to educate and care for and, if necessary, punish a child, in properly preparing it for the responsibilities of later years, so it is the duty of this country to care for the Territory in order to properly prepare it for the responsibilities of Statehood. No unworthy or debauched community should, or will, be advanced into Statehood, and no political party will dare commit so great a crime.
Utah Mormonism, with legislative power in its grasp, is a monster of no inconsiderable proportions, and means mischief. It occupies a vast region besides Utah, abounding in attractions and fruitful in resources. The purpose of the Mormon leaders announced to, and understood by, their people is presented in very different guise by their agents in Washington. The past shows them to be the most adroit and successful lobbyists our national capital has ever known. Besides, they readily spend thousands of dollars to mislead the country and to prolong their power from Congress to Congress. As scheming traders, who handle the vast revenues of their corporation from year to year, they put off the day of settlement at the expense of their creditor -- the country. The day of settlement must come. The present condition of affairs cannot continue. The quicker the settlement comes, the better for the Mormons and for the country. Either the Government must repeal its laws or the Mormons must obey them. Shall the settlement be effected peaceably or in strife? I do not now, and never have, suggested the necessity of military force. My purpose is, in mercy, to avert such a necessity, and to shield the Mormon people from such a calamity. I believe that with proper legislation a settlement can be effected peaceably. I believe that it will be effected in strife
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if that legislation is much longer withheld. In 1850, Congress gave to Utah a form of government the counterpart of that given to other Territories. But it was competent for Congress to order the government of Utah on a totally different plan had it chosen to do so. The power of Congress in the premises was then, as it is now, complete, and the exercise of such power dates from before the writing of the Constitution. Brigham Young was made Governor. That act was unfortunate and far-reaching in its evil results. At once the Legislature, composed then, as now, of Mormons, under the forms of law, by direction of "President" Young, transferred the powers and duties pertaining to the Governorship into other hands in order to have the government of Utah the more secure from national control when he should cease to be, and another become the Governor.
Deliberately, and in direct violation of the seventh section of the organic Act of 1850, an unlawful government was inaugurated, and to-day exists. In 1882, discharging the duty imposed by Congress, reinforced by the Supreme Court of the Territory, and since recognized by the commissioners under the "Edmunds law," -- a duty he could not evade, and should not neglect, and a prerogative exercised by the executives of all other Territories with like provisions of law, -- the Governor of Utah named to the Legislative Council (Senate) sundry persons to carry on the government, saying: "Such officers must necessarily be named in the manner designated by Congress. Their election and appointment in any other manner, under an Act of the Territory which derives its power from the provisions of the self-same law, is nullification," etc. The Council declined either to reject or to confirm these nominations, claiming that this duty imposed by Congress had passed out of the hands of the Governor in virtue of divers territorial statutes, and adopted the following resolution: "Be it resolved, by the Council of the Legislative Assembly of Utah, that the complaint of His Excellency the Governor is groundless, and his nominations unnecessary, and that no action thereon is required." Thus was the unlawful government inaugurated, and it is kept in existence as it has existed for thirty years.
The machinery of "the Edmunds law" not having been put into operation in time for the August elections of 1882, Congress anticipated the failure. and by what is known as the
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"Hoar Amendment" provided that the Governor should fill the vacancies occasioned by the failure to elect. A number of persons accordingly were named, and succeeded in qualifying under the law in the face of vexatious obstacles thrown in their way from one end of the Territory to the other. The general refusal to obey this law of Congress was strongly illustrative of the "oneness" that characterizes Mormon action. The Supreme Court of the Territory sustained the Act of Congress and the action of the Governor, but the delay of appeals with the stay of proceedings resulted in polygamists holding on without regard to the will of Congress, and to-day many are exercising the functions of office who under the law are not entitled either to hold office or to vote. As in the past other Acts of Congress have been nullified, so this one was disobeyed. Congress has required of the Governor to see that the laws are faithfully executed. The two instances cited, and many others that might be mentioned, demonstrate the fact that the Legislature is organized to defeat the will of Congress, and that officers of the Territory upon whom the Governor should rely to execute the laws combine to nullify them.
The Constitution of the United States declares that Congress "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof." The Church in Utah needs no protection against the United States. It was the purpose of the writers of the Constitution, as it is now the purpose of the country, to protect the Government against the encroachments of the Church. Certainly this country fully protects all men the right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience. This guarantee is maintained by all. Has the Legislature of Utah overridden this provision? Has the Government of Utah proved a faithful agent of the United States? Is it now a faithful agent? Have not the different legislatures which derived their powers from Congress, and which are paid from the national Treasury, passed, and have not the officers of the Territory who derive their power from Congress executed law upon law in direct violation of the Constitution and the laws of Congress? If they have and do, they are unfaithful agents, and after thirty years of forbearance and forgiveness they cannot longer in safety be allowed to perform the duties of such agency. Congress, which is charged with the duty and to whom alone good citizens can look, should do no less than a prudent business man
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would do in dealing with an unfaithful agent. If such agents are not to be prosecuted, at least let their services be dispensed with. The question, if indeed there ever was any in Utah, as to the exercise of religious belief, was taken entirely out of intelligent discussion by the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Reynolds case, sustaining the Act of 1862, which declared bigamy to be a crime. The question now to be considered is, whether there has been an establishment of religion, or at least numerous laws passed "respecting an establishment of religion," by the legislatures of Utah. Such laws are too voluminous to give in detail, but I quote a few paragraphs. Section first of an Act passed February 8th, 1851, ordains and declares that all that portion of the inhabitants of Utah who are or may become Saints are hereby constituted "a body corporate with power to sue and be sued, defend and be defended and to establish order and regulate worship," "and hold and occupy real and personal," which the second section of the Act declares "shall be free from taxation." It further provides for a "trustee in trust and assistants," and that the trustees may receive property, real or personal, by gift, donation, bequest, or in any manner not incompatible with the principles of righteousness or rules of justice, inasmuch as the same shall be used for houses of worship, etc., "and the well-being of said Church." Section third reads:
"Be it, &c.: That as said Church holds the constitutional and original right in common with all civil and religious communities to worship God according to the dictates of conscience; to reverence communion agreeably to the principles of truth, and to solemnize marriage compatible with the revelations of Jesus Christ free to all; it is also declared that said Church does, and shall possess and enjoy continually the power and authority in and of itself to originate, make, pass, and establish rules, regulations, ordinances, laws, customs, and criterions for the good order, safety, government, conveniences, comfort, and control of said Church, and for the punishment or forgiveness of all offenses relative to fellowship according to church covenants; that the pursuit of bliss, and the enjoyment of life in every capacity of public association, and domestic happiness, temporal expansion, or spiritual increase upon the earth may not legally be questioned; provided, however, that each and every act or practice so established or adopted for law or custom shall relate to solemnities, sacraments, ceremonies, consecrations, endowments, tithings, marriages, fellowship, or the religious duties of man to his Maker; inasmuch as the doctrines, principles, practices, or performances, support virtue and increase morality, and are not inconsistent with or repugnant to the Constitution of the United States or of this State, and are founded in the revelations of the Lord."
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Here is an Act of the Legislature giving corporate powers to hold real and personal property free from taxation, "not for purposes of worship only," but for general business, and under this they held farms, stores, railway stock, banks, telegraphs, theaters, cattle, sheep, etc., such as are now held by the Church. This Act, adroitly drawn in several particulars, was intended to be a wall of defense about an established religion, so that "it may not legally be questioned," and to confer power upon courts, even to pains and penalties, in all matters relative to fellowship according to Church covenants.
The Act of Congress declaring bigamy to be a crime proposed to repeal so much of this Act of incorporation and of all other Acts as "established or countenanced polygamy," but its provisos and limitations made the repeal questionable. The courts of Utah have held that as regards criminal offenses, such as theft of Church property, the act of incorporation was not repealed. For lack of the proper officer under the law it has not been tested in civil cases, but the better opinion seems to be that it is repealed. If so, the power remains in the Church as an association; if not, it remains in it as a corporation. The result is about the same. Under color of that Act, courts not open to all citizens, and unknown to Congress, sit with usurped powers, at least similar to those granted in the Act of incorporation, and deal with temporal affairs of American citizens. The same Act of Congress declared that it shall not be lawful for any corporation or association, for religious or charitable purposes, to acquire or hold real estate in any Territory of a greater value than fifty thousand dollars: now it appears from the census of 1880 that Church property to the value of $2,500,000, a great part of it real estate, is held in one county of Utah; thus is this Act of Congress nullified with the others. This feat is accomplished by putting the title to Church property in the names of presidents of stakes, bishops and other agents throughout the Territory.
By an Act passed in 1850, amended in 1856, and found among the laws published by authority in 1876, the entire immigration system for the Territory was given into the hands of the Church "to promote, facilitate, and accomplish the immigration of the poor." The result was "The Perpetual Immigration Fund." No other system has been sanctioned, recognized, or permitted by law, and to-day this corporation, now rich, forms an important
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factor in the Church and State machinery, under the absolute control of the Church, and gathers the poor and deluded from all parts of the world. Section fourteen of the original Act provided that, "The Islands of Great Salt Lake, known as Stansbury Island and Antelope Island, are hereby reserved and appropriated for the use and benefit of said company, and said islands shall be under the exclusive control of President Brigham Young."
Exclusive grants of timber, water, canyons, etc., were granted to Young, Kimball, Benson, and others (see statutes), leaders of the Church. Ferry privileges were granted to D. H. Wells, provided he pay ten per cent. to the Immigration Fund Co. One other and conclusive instance I may give to show beyond question that the Church was esteemed, and by law declared, sovereign. Section 569, compiled laws of Utah, published in 1876, provides that all escheats were to be turned over to the Church Immigration Fund Co. by the probate judge, who was thereby "empowered and required to take possession of all property left by any deceased or abscondent person when there is no legal claimant known or sufficiently near to see to it in season." Are not these laws recognizing the Church aptly described as "laws respecting an establishment of religion," if indeed, they do not actually establish religion; and are they not therefore in direct violation of the Constitution?
The majority in Utah and the Legislature of the Territory recognize, as is shown in these written laws, even the sovereignty of the Church. Two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time. The sovereignty of the Church and that of the United States cannot both exist. Time has failed as it will fail to be the remedy, and I am constrained to say that delay is dangerous, and a wrong, to all alike. Designing men control ignorance which is joined with fanaticism, rob the poor of the results of honest toil, womanhood of its chief adornment, and inspire the souls of a confiding people in Utah with hate toward the people of the United States. These same men em- ploy as counsel "wise men of the East," fill newspapers with interviews which in the light of facts are laughable, deceive amiable people, and pose as martyrs about the lobbies of Washington. In Utah the intelligence and to a great degree the wealth is possessed by the Americans; in other words, by those who recognize the sovereignty of the United States. They
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largely pay the taxes to carry on the governments, both territorial and municipal, in which they have no voice. They largely support by taxes the schools to which their children do not go. The whole system is, in fact, unrepublican and unendurable to free men. The conditions there are different from any known to the body of the people of the United States, or their representatives. Many of those who think they know, and have been in Utah temporarily, are in woeful ignorance; some even in Salt Lake City are misled. This evil must be eradicated. If the Legislature which is to convene in January will pass a code of laws in unison with the laws of Congress, I am sure the country will be gratified. If they fail, as I fear they must, then the remedy suggested by Stephen A. Douglas, and Frank Blair, and the Liberals of Utah, and for so long recommended by me should at once be adopted. This remedy is as follows: Abolish the Legislature, and substitute in lieu of it a Legislative Council of not more than thirteen "of the most fit and discreet men of the Territory;" a less number, perhaps, would be better; they to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The precedents for this action antedate the Constitution, and form a continuous series down to the present time. On July 13, 1787, four years after peace with Great Britain was declared, Congress passed "an ordinance for the government of the Territory north-west of the Ohio River." Section five of that Act provided "that the Governor, and judges, or a majority of them, should adopt and publish in the district such laws of the original States, criminal and civil, as may be best suited to the circumstances," etc., etc. Section four of an Act of Congress erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof, enacts as follows:
"The legislative powers shall be vested in the Governor and in thirteen of the most fit and discreet persons of the Territory, to be called the Legislative Council, who shall be appointed annually by the President of the United States from among those holding real estate therein, and who shall have resided one year, at least, in the said Territory and hold no office of profit under the United States." See Vol. 2, U. S. Statutes at Large.
By Act of Congress, approved February 21, 1871, Congress provided a government for the District of Columbia, with a Governor and Legislature. The conditions of that Territory were such that, for reasons well known to the country and deemed
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sufficient by Congress, an Act was passed abolishing the legislative government and substituting a commission to govern the district under the laws of Congress.
The fact that the Constitution imposes upon Congress exclusive legislative power in the District of Columbia does not deny inferentially even to Congress the right to establish sound government, republican in form, in the "territory or other property of the United States" not set aside for the seat of government. But if we grant that Congress does not possess this right, then it has no power to establish any territorial government, and all such governments should be abolished. If the establishment is wrong the repeal should follow. The law which Congress may pass it may repeal in whole or in part. In the light of precedents older than the Constitution, the action of every Congress in our national history, and numerous decisions of the Supreme Court, the power of Congress exercised in abolishing the Legislature of the District of Columbia is not more complete than its power over Utah, and we can scarcely claim that we are better, or that the political rights of good citizens in Utah are more sacred than those of like citizens of the District of Columbia. If Congress then could abolish the Legislature in Washington at the instance of her best citizens, it may do the same thing for Utah at the instance of our best citizens; and as governing the District of Columbia by commissioners brought quiet and order out of confusion and extravagance there, so abolishing the Legislature and substituting a Legislative Council in Utah will bring quiet and order out of unrest and nullification there. The Louisiana statute is exactly the precedent, and presents the remedy. If that should prove insufficient, the exigencies of the future will demand more effectual measures.
ELI H. MURRAY.