|Kirjallisuus > Story of the Mormons|
The first white men to enter what is now Utah were a part of the force of Coronado, under Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardinas, if the reader of the evidence decides that their journey from Zuni took them, in 1540, across the present Utah border line.1 A more definite account has been preserved of a second exploration, which left Santa Fe in 1776, led by two priests, Dominguez and Escalate, in search of a route to the California coast. A two months' march brought them to a lake, called Timpanogos by the natives--now Utah Lake on the map--where they were told of another lake, many leagues in extent, whose waters were so salt that they made the body itch when wet with them; but they turned to the southwest without visiting it. Lahontan's report of the discovery of a body of bad-tasting water on the western side of the continent in 1689 is not accepted as more than a part of an imaginary narrative. S. A. Ruddock asserted that, in 1821, he with a trading party made a journey from Council Bluffs to Oregon by way of Santa Fe and Great Salt Lake.2
1 See Bancroft's "History of Utah," Chap. I.
2 House Report, No. 213, 1st Session, 19th Congress.
Bancroft mentions this claim "for what it is worth," but awards the honor of the discovery of the lake, as the earliest authenticated, to James Bridger, the noted frontiersman who, some twelve years later, built his well-known trading fort on Green River. Bridger, with a party of trappers who had journeyed west from the Missouri with Henry and Ashley in 1824, got into a discussion that winter with his fellows, while they were camped on Bear River, about the course of that stream, and, to decide a bet, Bridger followed it southward until he came to Great Salt Lake. In the following spring four of the party explored the lake in boats made of skins, hoping to find beavers, and they, it is believed, were the first white men to float upon its waters. Fremont saw the lake from the summit of a butte on September 6, 1843. "It was," he says, "one of the great objects of the exploration, and, as we looked eagerly over the lake in the first emotions of excited pleasure, I am doubtful if the followers of Balboa felt more enthusiasm when, from the heights of the Andes, they saw for the first time the great Western Ocean." This practical claim of discovery was not well founded, nor was his sail on the lake in an India-rubber boat "the first ever attempted on this interior sea."
Dating from 1825, the lake region of Utah became more and more familiar to American trappers and explorers. In 1833 Captain Bonneville, of the United States army, obtained leave of absence, and with a company of 110 trappers set out for the Far West by the Platte route. Crossing the Rockies through the South Pass, he made a fortified camp on Green River, whence he for three years explored the country. One of his parties, under Joseph Walker, was sent to trap beavers on Great Salt Lake and to explore it thoroughly, making notes and maps. Bonneville, in his description of the lake to Irving, declared that lofty mountains rose from its bosom, and greatly magnified its extent to the south.* Walker's party got within sight of the lake, but found themselves in a desert, and accordingly changed their course and crossed the Sierras into California. In Bonneville's map the lake is called "Lake Bonneville or Great Salt Lake," and Irving calls it Lake Bonneville in his "Astoria."
* Bonneville's "Adventures," p. 184.
The day after the first arrival of Brigham Young in Salt Lake Valley (Sunday, July 25), church services were held and the sacrament was administered. Young addressed his followers, indicating at the start his idea of his leadership and of the ownership of the land, which was then Mexican territory. "He said that no man should buy any land who came here," says Woodruff; "that he had none to sell; but every man should have his land measured out to him for city and farming purposes. He might till it as he pleased, but he must be industrious and take care of it." *
* "After the assignments were made, persona commenced the usual speculations of selling according to eligibility of situation. This called out anathemas from the spiritual powers, and no one was permitted to traffic for fancy profit; if any sales were made, the first cost and actual value of improvements were all that was to be allowed. All speculative sales were made sub rosa. Exchanges are made and the records kept by the register."--Gunnison, "The Mormons" (1852), p. 145.
The next day a party, including all the Twelve who were in the valley, set out to explore the neighborhood. They visited and bathed in Great Salt Lake, climbed and named Ensign Peak, and met a party of Utah Indians, who made signs that they wanted to trade. On their return Young explained to the people his ideas of an exploration of the country to the west and north.
Meanwhile, those left in the valley had been busy staking off fields, irrigating them, and planting vegetables and grain. Some buildings, among them a blacksmith shop, were begun. The members of the Battalion, about four hundred of whom had now arrived, constructed a "bowery." Camps of Utah Indians were visited, and the white men witnessed their method of securing for food the abundant black crickets, by driving them into an enclosure fenced with brush which they set on fire.
On July 28, after a council of the Quorum had been held, the site of the Temple was selected by Brigham Young, who waved his hand and said: "Here is the 40 acres for the Temple. The city can be laid out perfectly square, east and west."* The 40 acres were a few days later reduced to 10, but the site then chosen is that on which the big Temple now stands. It was also decided that the city should be laid out in lots measuring to by 20 rods each, 8 lots to a block, with streets 8 rods wide, and sidewalks 20 feet wide; each house to be erected in the centre of a lot, and 20 feet from the front line. Land was also reserved for four parks of to acres each.
* Tullidge's "Life of Brigham Young," p. 178.
Men were at once sent into the mountains to secure logs for cabins, and work on adobe huts was also begun. On August y those of the Twelve present selected their "inheritances," each taking a block near the Temple. A week later the Twelve in council selected the blocks on which the companies under each should settle. The city as then laid out covered a space nearly four miles long and three broad.*
* Tullidge says: "The land portion of each family, as a rule, was the acre-and-a-quarter lot designated in the plan of the city; but the chief men of the pioneers, who had a plurality of wives and numerous children, received larger portions of the city lots. The giving of farms, as shown is the General Epistle, was upon the same principle as the apportioning of city lots. The farm of five, ten, or twenty acres was not for the mechanic, nor the manufacturer, nor even for the farmer, as a mere personal property, but for the good of the community at large, to give the substance of the earth to feed the population . . . . While the farmer was planting and cultivating his farm, the mechanic and tradesman produced his supplies and wrought his daily work for the community." He adds,"It can be easily understood how some departures were made from this original plan." This understanding can be gained in no better way than by inspecting the list of real estate left by Brigham Young in his will as his individual possession.
On August 22 a General Conference decided that the city should be called City of the Great Salt Lake. When the city was incorporated, in 1851, the name was changed to Salt Lake City. In view of the approaching return of Young and his fellow officers to the Missouri River, the company in the valley were placed in charge of the prophet's uncle, John Smith, as Patriarch, with a high council and other officers of a Stake.
When P. P. Pratt and the following companies reached the valley in September, they found a fort partly built, and every one busy, preparing for the winter. The crops of that year had been a disappointment, having been planted too late. The potatoes raised varied in size from that of a pea to half an inch in diameter, but they were saved and used successfully for seed the next year. A great deal of grain was sown during the autumn and winter, considerable wheat having been brought from California by members of the Battalion. Pratt says that the snow was several inches deep when they did some of their ploughing, but that the ground was clear early in March. A census taken in March, 1848, gave the city a population of 1671, with 423 houses erected.
The Saints in the valley spent a good deal of that winter working on their cabins, making furniture, and carting fuel. They discovered that the warning about the lack of timber was well founded, all the logs and firewood being hauled from a point eight miles distant, over bad roads, and with teams that had not recovered from the effect of the overland trip. Many settlers therefore built huts of adobe bricks, some with cloth roofs. Lack of experience in handling adobe clay for building purposes led to some sad results, the rains and frosts causing the bricks to crumble or burst, and more than one of these houses tumbled down around their owners. Even the best of the houses had very flat roofs, the newcomers believing that the climate was always dry; and when the rains and melted snow came, those who had umbrellas frequently raised them indoors to protect their beds or their fires.
Two years later, when Captain Stansbury of the United States Topographical Engineers, with his surveying party, spent the winter in Salt Lake City, in "a small, unfurnished house of unburnt brick or adobe, unplastered, and roofed with boards loosely nailed on," which let in the rains in streams, he says they were better lodged than many of their neighbors. "Very many families," he explains, "were obliged still to lodge wholly or in part in their wagons, which, being covered, served, when taken off from the wheels and set upon the ground, to make bedrooms, of limited dimensions, it is true, but exceedingly comfortable. In the very next enclosure to that of our party, a whole family of children had no other shelter than one of these wagons, where they slept all winter."
The furniture of the early houses was of the rudest kind, since only the most necessary articles could be brought in the wagons. A chest or a barrel would do for a table, a bunk built against the side logs would be called a bed, and such rude stools as could be most easily put together served for chairs.
The letters sent for publication in England to attract emigrants spoke of a mild and pleasant winter, not telling of the privations of these pioneers. The greatest actual suffering was caused by a lack of food as spring advanced. A party had been sent to California, in November, for cattle, seeds, etc., but they lost forty of a herd of two hundred on the way back. The cattle that had been brought across the plains were in poor condition on their arrival, and could find very little winter pasturage. Many of the milk cows driven all the way from the Missouri had died by midsummer. By spring parched grain was substituted for coffee, a kind of molasses was made from beets, and what little flour could be obtained was home-ground and unbolted. Even so high an officer of the church as P. P. Pratt, thus describes the privations of his family: "In this labor [ploughing, cultivating, and sowing] every woman and child in my family, so far as they were of sufficient age and strength, had joined to help me, and had toiled incessantly in the field, suffering every hardship which human nature could well endure. Myself and most of them were compelled to go with bare feet for several months, reserving our Indian moccasins for extra occasions. We toiled hard, and lived on a few greens, and on thistle and other roots."
This was the year of the great visitation of crickets, the destruction of which has given the Mormons material for the story of one of their miracles. The crickets appeared in May, and they ate the country clear before them. In a wheat-field they would average two or three to a head of grain. Even ditches filled with water would not stop them. Kane described them as "wingless, dumpy, black, swollen-headed, with bulging eyes in cases like goggles, mounted upon legs of steel wire and clock spring, and with a general personal appearance that justified the Mormons in comparing them to a cross of a spider and the buffalo." When this plague was at its worst, the Mormons saw flocks of gulls descend and devour the crickets so greedily that they would often disgorge the food undigested. Day after day did the gulls appear until the plague was removed. Utah guide-books of to-day refer to this as a divine interposition of Heaven in behalf of the Saints. But writers of that date, like P. P. Pratt, ignore the miraculous feature, and the white gulls dot the fields between Salt Lake City and Ogden in 1901 just as they did in the summer of 1848, and as Fremont found them there in September, 1843. Gulls are abundant all over the plains, and are found with the snipe and geese as far north as North Dakota. Heaven's interposition, if exercised, was not thorough, for, after the crickets, came grasshoppers in such numbers that one writer says, "On one occasion a quarter of one cloudy dropped into the lake and were blown on shore by the wind, in rows sometimes two feet deep, for a distance of two miles."
But the crops, with all the drawbacks, did better than had been deemed possible, and on August 10 the people held a kind of harvest festival in the "bowery" in the centre of their fort, when "large sheaves of wheat, rye, barley, oats, and other productions were hoisted on poles for public exhibition."* Still, the outlook was so alarming that word was sent to Winter Quarters advising against increasing their population at that time, and Brigham Young's son urged that a message be sent to his father giving similar advice.** Nevertheless P. P. Pratt did not hesitate in a letter addressed to the Saints in England, on September 5, to say that they had had ears of corn to boil for a month, that he had secured "a good harvest of wheat and rye without irrigation," and that there would be from ten thousand to twenty thousand bushels of grain in the valley more than was needed for home consumption.
* Pratt's "Autobiography," p. 406.
** Bancroft's "History of Utah;' p. 281.
With the arrival of the later companies from Winter Quarters the population of the city was increased by the winter of 1848 to about five thousand, or more than one-quarter of those who went out from Nauvoo. The settlers then had three sawmills, one flouring mill, and a threshing machine run by water, another sawmill and flour mill nearly completed, and several mills under way for the manufacture of sugar from corn stalks.
Brigham Young, again on the ground, took the lead at once in pushing on the work. To save fencing, material for which was hard to obtain, a tract of eight thousand acres was set apart and fenced for the common use, within which farmhouses could be built. The plan adopted for fencing in the city itself was to enclose each ward separately, every lot owner building his share. A stone council house, forty-five feet square, was begun, the labor counting as a part of the tithe; unappropriated city lots were distributed among the new-comers by a system of drawing, and the building of houses went briskly on, the officers of the church sharing in the labor. A number of bridges were also provided, a tax of one per cent being levied to pay for them.
Among the incidents of the winter mentioned in an epistle of the First Presidency was the establishment of schools in the different wards, in which, it was stated, "the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, German, Tahitian and English languages have been taught successfully"; and the organization of a temporary local government, and of a Stake of Zion, with Daniel Spencer as president. It was early the policy of the church to carry on an extended system of public works, including manufacturing enterprises. The assisted immigrants were expected to repay by work on these buildings the advance made to them to cover their travelling expenses. Young saw at once the advantage of starting branches of manufacture, both to make his people independent of a distant supply and to give employment to the population. Writing to Orson Pratt on October 14, 1849, when Pratt was in England, he said that they would have the material for cotton and woollen factories ready by the time men and machinery were prepared to handle it, and urged him to send on cotton operatives and "all the necessary fixtures." The third General Epistle spoke of the need of furnaces and forges, and Orson Pratt, in an address to the Saints in Great Britain, dated July 2, I850, urged the officers of companies "to seek diligently in every branch for wise, skilful and ingenious mechanics, manufacturers, potters, etc."*
* The General Epistle of April, 1852, announced two potteries in operation, a small woollen factory begun, a nail factory, wooden bowl factory, and many grist and saw mills. The General Epistle of October, 1855, enumerated, as among the established industries, a foundery, a cutlery shop, and manufactories of locks, cloth, leather, hats, cordage, brushes, soap, paper, combs, and cutlery.
The General Conference of October, 1849, ordered one man to build a glass factory in the valley, and voted to organize a company to transport passengers and freight between the Missouri River and California, directing that settlements be established along the route. This company was called the Great Salt Lake Valley Carrying Company. Its prospectus in the Frontier Guardian in December, 1849, stated that the fare from Kanesville to Sutter's Fort, California, would be $300, and the freight rate to Great Salt Lake City $12.50 per hundredweight, the passenger wagons to be drawn by four horses or mules, and the freight wagons by oxen.
But the work of making the new Mormon home a business and manufacturing success did not meet with rapid encouragement. Where settlements were made outside of Salt Lake City, the people were not scattered in farmhouses over the country, but lived in what they called "forts," squalid looking settlements, laid out in a square and defended by a dirt or adobe wall. The inhabitants of these settlements had to depend on the soil for their subsistence, and such necessary workmen as carpenters and shoemakers plied their trade as they could find leisure after working in the fields. When Johnston's army entered the valley in 1858, the largest attempt at manufacturing that had been undertaken there--a beet sugar factory, toward which English capitalists had contributed more than $100,000--had already proved a failure. There were tanneries, distilleries, and breweries in operation, a few rifles and revolvers were made from iron supplied by wagon tires, and in the larger settlements a few good mechanics were kept busy. But if no outside influences had contributed to the prosperity of the valley, and hastened the day when it secured railroad communication, the future of the people whom Young gathered in Utah would have been very different.
A correspondent of the New York Tribune, on his way to California, writing on July 8, 1849, thus described Salt Lake City as it presented itself to him at that time:-- "There are no hotels, because there had been no travel; no barber shops, because every one chose to shave himself and no one had time to shave his neighbor; no stores, because they had no goods to sell nor time to traffic; no center of business, because all were too busy to make a center. There was abundance of mechanics' shops, of dressmakers, milliners and tailors, etc., but they needed no sign, nor had they any time to paint or erect one, for they were crowded with business. Besides their several trades, all must cultivate the land or die; for the country was new, and no cultivation but their own within 1000 miles. Everyone had his lot and built on it; every one cultivated it, and perhaps a small farm in the distance. And the strangest of all was that this great city, extending over several square miles, had been erected, and every house and fence made, within nine or ten months of our arrival; while at the same time good bridges were erected over the principal streams, and the country settlements extended nearly 100 miles up and down the valley."*
* New York Tribune, October 9, 1849.
The winter of 1848 set in early and severe, with frequent snowstorms from December 1 until late in February, and the temperature dropping one degree below zero as late as February 5. The deep snow in the canons, the only outlets through the mountains, rendered it difficult to bring in fuel, and the suffering from the cold was terrible, as many families had arrived too late to provide themselves with any shelter but their prairie wagons. The apprehended scarcity of food, too, was realized. Early in February an inventory of the breadstuffs in the valley, taken by the Bishops, showed only three-quarters of a pound a day per head until July 5, although it was believed that many had concealed stores on hand. When the first General Epistle of the First Presidency was sent out from Salt Lake City in the spring of 1849,* corn, which had sold for $2 and $3 a bushel, was not to be had, wheat had ranged from $4 to $5 a bushel, and potatoes from $6 to $20, with none then in market.
* Millennial Star, Vol. XI, p. 227.
The people generally exerted themselves to obtain food for those whose supplies had been exhausted, but the situation became desperate before the snow melted. Three attempts to reach Fort Bridger failed because of the depth of snow in the canons. There is a record of a winter hunt of two rival parties of 100 men each, but they killed "varmints" rather than game, the list including 700 wolves and foxes, 20 minks and skunks, 500 hawks, owls and magpies, and 1000 ravens.* Some of the Mormons, with the aid of Indian guides, dug roots that the savages had learned to eat, and some removed the hide roofs from their cabins and stewed them for food. The lack of breadstuffs continued until well into the summer, and the celebration of the anniversary of the arrival of the pioneers in the valley, which had been planned for July 4, was postponed until the 24th, as Young explained in his address, "that we might have a little bread to set on our tables."
* General Epistle, Millennial Star, Vol. XI, p. 227.
Word was now sent to the states and to Europe that no more of the brethren should make the trip to the valley at that time unless they had means to get through without assistance, and could bring breadstuffs to last them several months after their arrival.
But something now occurred which turned the eyes of a large part of the world to that new acquisition of the United States on the Pacific coast which was called California, which made the Mormon settlement in Utah a way station for thousands of travellers where a dozen would not have passed it without the new incentive, and which brought to the Mormon settlers, almost at their own prices, supplies of which they were desperately in need, and which they could not otherwise have obtained. This something was the discovery of gold in California.
When the news of this discovery reached the Atlantic states and those farther west, men simply calculated by what route they could most quickly reach the new El Dorado, and the first companies of miners who travelled across the plains sacrificed everything for speed. The first rush passed through Salt Lake Valley in August, 1849. Some of the Mormons who had reached California with Brannan's company had by that time arrived in the valley, bringing with them a few bags of gold dust. When the would-be miners from the East saw this proof of the existence of gold in the country ahead of them, their enthusiasm knew no limits, and their one wish was to lighten themselves so that they could reach the gold-fields in the shortest time possible. Then the harvest of the Mormons began. Pack mules and horses that had been worth only $25 or $30 would now bring $200 in exchange for other articles at a low price, and the travellers were auctioning off their surplus supplies every day. For a light wagon they did not hesitate to offer three or four heavy ones, with a yoke of oxen sometimes thrown in. Such needed supplies as domestic sheetings could be had at from five to ten cents a yard, spades and shovels, with which the miners were overstocked, at fifty cents each, and nearly everything in their outfit, except sugar and coffee, at half the price that would have been charged at wholesale in the Eastern states.*
* Salt Lake City letter to the Frontier Guardian.
The commercial profit to the Mormons from this emigration was greater still in 1850, when the rush had increased. Before the grain of that summer was cut, the gold seekers paid $1 a pound for flour in Salt Lake City. After the new grain was harvested they eagerly bought the flour as fast as five mills could grind it, at $25 per hundredweight. Unground wheat sold for $8 a bushel, wood for $10 a cord, adobe bricks for more than seven shillings a hundred, and skilled mechanics were getting twelve shillings and sixpence a day.* At the same time that the emigrants were paying so well for what they absolutely required, they were sacrificing large supplies of what they did not need on almost any terms. Some of them had started across the plains with heavy loads of machinery and miscellaneous goods, on which they expected to reap a big profit in California. Learning, however, when they reached Salt Lake City, that ship-loads of such merchandise were on their way around the Horn, the owners sacrificed their stock where it was, and hurried on to get their share of the gold.
* Millennial Star, Vol. XII, p. 350.
This is not the place in which to tell the story of that rush of the gold seekers. The clerk at Fort Laramie reported, "The total number of emigrants who passed this post up to June 10, 1850, included 16,915 men, 235 women, 242 children, 4672 wagons, 14,974 horses, 4641 mules, 7475 oxen, and 1653 cows." A letter from Sacramento dated September 10, 1850, gave this picture of the trail left by these travellers: "Many believed there are dead animals enough on the desert (of 45 miles) between Humboldt Lake and Carson River to pave a road the whole distance. We will make a moderate estimate and say there is a dead animal to every five feet, left on the desert this season. I counted 153 wagons within a mile and a half. Not half of those left were to be seen, many having been burned to make lights in the night. The desert is strewn with all kinds of property--tools, clothes, crockery, harnesses, etc."
Naturally, in this rush for sudden riches, many a Mormon had a desire to join. A dozen families left Utah for California early in 1849, and in March, 1851, a company of more than five hundred assembled in Payson, preparatory to making the trip. Here was an unexpected danger to the growth of the Mormon population, and one which the head of the church did not delay in checking. The second General Epistle, dated October 12, 1849,* stated that the valley of the Sacramento was unhealthy, and that the Saints could do better raising grain in Utah, adding, "The true use of gold is for paving streets, covering houses, and making culinary dishes, and when the Saints shall have preached the Gospel, raised grain, and built up cities enough, the Lord will open up the way for a supply of gold, to the perfect satisfaction of his people."
* Millennial Star, Vol. XII, p. 119.
Notwithstanding this advice, a good many Mormons acted on the idea that the Lord would help those who helped themselves, and that if they were to have golden culinary dishes they must go and dig the gold. Accordingly, we find the third General Epistle, dated April 12, 1850, acknowledging that many brethren had gone to the gold mines, but declaring that they were counselled only "by their own wills and covetous feelings," and that they would have done more good by staying in the valley. Young did not, however, stop with a mere rebuke. He proposed to check the exodus. "Let such men," the Epistle added, "remember that they are not wanted in our midst. Let such leave their carcasses where they do their work; we want not our burial grounds polluted with such hypocrites." Young was quite as plain spoken in his remarks to the General Conference that spring, naming as those who "will go down to hell, poverty-stricken and naked," the Mormons who felt that they were so poor that they would have to go to the gold mines.* Such talk had its effect, and Salt Lake Valley retained most of its population.
* Millennial Star, Vol. XII, p. 274,
The progress of the settlement received a serious check some years later in the failure of the crops in 1855, followed by a near approach to a famine in the ensuing winter. Very little reference to this was made in the official church correspondence, but a picture of the situation in Salt Lake City that winter was drawn in two letters from Heber C. Kimball to his sons in England.* In the first, written in February, he said that his family and Brigham Young's were then on a ration of half a pound of bread each per day, and that thousands had scarcely any breadstuff at all. Kimball's family of one hundred persons then had on hand about seventy bushels of potatoes and a few beets and carrots, "so you can judge," he says, "whether we can get through until harvest without digging roots." There were then not more than five hundred bushels of grain in the tithing office, and all public work was stopped until the next harvest, and all mechanics were advised to drop their tools and to set about raising grain. "There is not a settlement in the territory," said the writer, "but is also in the same fix as we are. Dollars and cents do not count in these times, for they are the tightest I have ever seen in the territory of Utah." In April he wrote: "I suppose one-half the church stock is dead. There are not more than one-half the people that have bread, and they have not more than one-half or one quarter of a pound a day to a person. A great portion of the people are digging roots, and hundreds and thousands, their teams being dead, are under the necessity of spading their ground to put in their grain." The harvest of 1856 also suffered from drought and insects, and the Deseret News that summer declared that "the most rigid economy and untiring, well-directed industry may enable us to escape starvation until a harvest in 1857, and until the lapse of another year emigrants and others will run great risks of starving unless they bring their supplies with them." The first load of barley brought into Salt Lake City that summer sold for $2 a bushel.
* Ibid., Vol. XVIII, pp. 395-476.
The first building erected in Salt Lake City in which to hold church services was called a tabernacle. It was begun in 1851, and was consecrated on April 6, 1852. It stood in Temple block, where the Assembly Hall now stands, measuring about 60 by 120 feet, and providing accommodation for 2500 people. The present Tabernacle, in which the public church services are held, was completed in 1870. It stands just west of the Temple, is elliptical in shape, and, with its broad gallery running around the entire interior, except the end occupied by the organ loft and pulpit, it can seat about 9000 persons. Its acoustic properties are remarkable, and one of the duties of any guide who exhibits the auditorium to visitors is to station them at the end of the gallery opposite the pulpit, and to drop a pin on the floor to show them how distinctly that sound can be heard.
The Temple in Salt Lake City was begun in April, 1853, and was not dedicated until April, 1893. This building is devoted to the secret ceremonies of the church, and no Gentile is ever admitted to it. The building, of granite taken from the near-by mountains, is architecturally imposing, measuring 200 by 100 feet. Its cost is admitted to have been about $4,000,000. The building could probably be duplicated to-day for one-half that sum. The excuse given by church authorities for the excessive cost is that, during the early years of the work upon it, the granite had to be hauled from the mountains by ox teams, and that everything in the way of building material was expensive in Utah when the church there was young. The interior is divided into different rooms, in which such ceremonies as the baptism for the dead are performed; the baptismal font is copied after the one that was in the Temple at Nauvoo.
There are three other temples in Utah, all of which were completed before the one in Salt Lake City, namely, at St. George, at Logan, and at Manti.
When the Mormons began their departure westward from Nauvoo, the immigration of converts from Europe was suspended because of the uncertainty about the location of the next settlement, and the difficulty of transporting the existing population. But the necessity of constant additions to the community of new-comers, and especially those bringing some capital, was never lost sight of by the heads of the church. An evidence of this was given even before the first company reached the Missouri River.
While the Saints were marching through Iowa they received intelligence of a big scandal in connection with the emigration business in England, and P. P. Pratt, Orson Hyde, and John Taylor were hurriedly sent to that country to straighten the matter out. The Millennial Star in the early part of 1846 had frequent articles about the British and American Commercial Joint Stock Company, an organization incorporated to assist poor Saints in emigrating. The principal emigration agent in Great Britain at that time was R. Hedlock. He was the originator of the Joint Stock Company, and Thomas Ward was its president. The Mormon investigators found that more than 1644 pounds of the contributions of the stockholders had been squandered, and that Ward had been lending Hedlock money with which to pay his personal debts. Ward and Hedlock were at once disfellowshipped, and contributions to the treasury of the company were stopped. Pratt says that Hedlock fled when the investigators arrived, leaving many debts, "and finally lived incog. in London with a vile woman." Thus it seems that Mormon business enterprises in England were no freer from scandals than those in America.
The efforts of the leaders of the church were now exerted to make the prospects of the Saints in Utah attractive to the converts in England whom they wished to add to the population of their valley. Young and his associates seem to have entertained the idea, without reckoning on the rapid settlement of California, the migration of the "Forty-niners," and the connection of the two coasts by rail, that they could constitute a little empire all by itself in Utah, which would be self-supporting as well as independent, the farmer raising food for the mechanic, and the mechanic doing the needed work for the farmer. Accordingly, the church did not stop short of every kind of misrepresentation and deception in belittling to the foreigners the misfortunes of the past, and picturing to them the fruitfulness of their new country, and the ease with which they could become landowners there.
Naturally, after the expulsion from Illinois, in which so many foreign converts shared, an explanation and palliation of the emigration thence were necessary. In the United States, then and ever since, the Mormons pictured themselves as the victims of an almost unprecedented persecution. But as soon as John Taylor reached England, in 1846, he issued an address to the Saints in Great Britain* in which he presented a very different picture. Granting that, on an average, they had not obtained more than one-third the value of their real and personal property when they left Illinois, he explained that, when they settled there, land in Nauvoo was worth only from $3 to $20 per acre, while, when they left, it was worth from $50 to $1500 per acre; in the same period the adjoining farm lands had risen in value from $1.25 and $5 to from $5 to $50 per acre. He assured his hearers, therefore, that the one-third value which they had obtained had paid them well for their labor. Nor was this all. When they left, they had exchanged their property for horses, cattle, provisions, clothing, etc., which was exactly what was needed by settlers in a new country. As a further bait he went on to explain: "When we arrive in California, according to the provisions of the Mexican government, each family will be entitled to a large tract of land, amounting to several hundred acres," and, if that country passed into American control, he looked for the passage of a law giving 640 acres to each male settler. "Thus," he summed up, "it will be easy to see that we are in a better condition than when we were in Nauvoo!"
* Millennial Star, Vol. VIII, p. 115.
The misrepresentation did not cease here, however. After announcing the departure of Brigham Young's pioneer company, Taylor* wound up with this tissue of false statements: "The way is now prepared; the roads, bridges, and ferry-boats made; there are stopping places also on the way where they can rest, obtain vegetables and corn, and, when they arrive at the far end, instead of finding a wild waste, they will meet with friends, provisions and a home, so that all that will be requisite for them to do will be to find sufficient teams to draw their families, and to take along with them a few woollen or cotton goods, or other articles of merchandise which will be light, and which the brethren will require until they can manufacture for themselves." How many a poor Englishman, toiling over the plains in the next succeeding years, and, arriving in arid Utah to find himself in the clutches of an organization from which he could not escape, had reason to curse the man who drew this picture!
* John Taylor was born in England in 1808, and emigrated to Canada in 1829, where, after joining the Methodists, he, like Joseph Smith, found existing churches unsatisfactory, and was easily secured as a convert by P. P. Pratt. He was elected to the Quorum, and was sent to Great Britain as a missionary in 1840, writing several pamphlets while there. He arrived in Nauvoo with Brigham Young in 1841, and there edited the Times and Seasons, was a member of the City Council, a regent of the university, and judge advocate of the Legion, and was in the room with the prophet when the latter was shot. He was the Mormon representative in France in 1849, publishing a monthly paper there, translating the Mormon Bible into the French language, and preaching later at Hamburg, Germany. He was superintendent of the Mormon church in the Eastern states in 1857, when Young declared war against the United States, and he succeeded Young as head of the church.
In 1847, at the suggestion of Taylor, Hyde, and Pratt, who were still in England, a petition bearing nearly 13,000 names was addressed to Queen Victoria, setting forth the misery existing among the working classes in Great Britain, suggesting, as the best means of relief, royal aid to those who wished to emigrate to "the island of Vancouver or to the great territory of Oregon," and asking her "to give them employment in improving the harbors of those countries, or in erecting forts of defence; or, if this be inexpedient, to furnish them provisions and means of subsistence until they can produce them from the soil." These American citizens did not hesitate to point out that the United States government was favoring the settlement of its territory on the Pacific coast, and to add: "While the United States do manifest such a strong inclination, not only to extend and enlarge their possessions in the West, but also to people them, will not your Majesty look well to British interests in those regions, and adopt timely precautionary measures to maintain a balance of power in that quarter which, in the opinion of your memorialists, is destined at no very distant period to participate largely in the China trade?" *
* See Linforth's "Route," pp. 2-5.
The Oregon boundary treaty was less than a year old when this petition was presented. It was characteristic of Mormon duplicity to find their representatives in Great Britain appealing to Queen Victoria on the ground of self-interest, while their chiefs in the United States were pointing to the organization of the Battalion as a proof of their fidelity to the home government. Practically no notice was taken of this petition. Vancouver Island, was, however, held out to the converts in Great Britain as the one "gathering point of the Saints from the islands and distant portions of the earth," until the selection of Salt Lake Valley as the Saints' abiding place.
On December 23, 1847, Young, in behalf of the Twelve, issued from Winter Quarters a General Epistle to the church a which gave an account of his trip to the Salt Lake Valley, directed all to gather themselves speedily near Winter Quarters in readiness for the march to Salt Lake Valley, and said to the Saints in Europe:--
"Emigrate as speedily as possible to this vicinity. Those who have but little means, and little or no labor, will soon exhaust that means if they remain where they are. Therefore, it is wisdom that they remove without delay; for here is land on which, by their labor, they can speedily better their condition for their further journey." The list of things which Young advised the emigrants to bring with them embraced a wide assortment: grains, trees, and vines; live stock and fowls; agricultural implements and mills; firearms and ammunition; gold and silver and zinc and tin and brass and ivory and precious stones; curiosities, "sweet instruments of music, sweet odors, and beautiful colors." The care of the head of the church, that the immigrants should not neglect to provide themselves with cologne and rouge for use in crossing the prairies, was most thoughtful.
* Millennial Star, Vol. X, p. 81.
The Millennial Star of February 1, 1848, made this announcement to the faithful in the British Isles:--
"The channel of Saints' emigration to the land of Zion is now opened. The resting place of Israel for the last days has been discovered. In the elevated valley of the Salt and Utah Lakes, with the beautiful river Jordan running through it, is the newly established Stake of Zion. There vegetation flourishes with magic rapidity. And the food of man, or staff of life, leaps into maturity from the bowels of Mother Earth with astonishing celerity. Within one month from planting, potatoes grew from six to eight inches, and corn from two to four feet. There the frequent clouds introduce their fertilizing contents at a modest distance from the fat valley, and send their humid influences from the mountain tops. There the saline atmosphere of Salt Lake mingles in wedlock with the fresh humidity of the same vegetable element which comes over the mountain top, as if the nuptial bonds of rare elements were introduced to exhibit a novel specimen of a perfect vegetable progeny in the shortest possible time," etc.
Contrast this with Brigham Young's letter to Colonel Alexander in October, 1857,--"We had hoped that in this barren, desolate country we could have remained unmolested."
On the 20th of February, 1848, the shipment of Mormon emigrants began again with the sailing of the Cornatic, with 120 passengers, for New Orleans.
In the following April, Orson Pratt was sent to England to take charge of the affairs of the church there. On his arrival, in August, he issued an "Epistle" which was influential in augmenting the movement. He said that "in the solitary valleys of the great interior" they hoped to hide "while the indignation of the Almighty is poured upon the nations"; and urged the rich to dispose of their property in order to help the poor, commanding all who could do so to pay their tithing. "O ye saints of the Most High," he said, "linger not! Make good your retreat before the avenues are closed up!"
Many other letters were published in the Millennial Star in 1848-1849, giving glowing accounts of the fertility of Salt Lake Valley. One from the clerk of the camp observed: "Many cases of twins. In a row of seven houses joining each other eight births in one week."
In order to assist the poor converts in Europe, the General Conference held in Salt Lake City in October, 1849, voted to raise a fund, to be called "The Perpetual Emigrating Fund," and soon $5000 had been secured for this purpose. In September, 1850, the General Assembly of the Provisional State of Deseret incorporated the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company, and Brigham Young was elected its first president. Collections for this fund in Great Britain amounted to 1410 pounds by January, 1852, and the emigrants sent out in that year were assisted from this fund. These expenditures required an additional $5000, which was supplied from Salt Lake City. A letter issued by the First Presidency in October, 1849, urged the utmost economy in the expenditure of this money, and explained that, when the assisted emigrants arrived in Salt Lake City, they would give their obligations to the church to refund as soon as possible what had been expended on them.* In this way, any who were dissatisfied on their arrival in Utah found themselves in the church clutches, from which they could not escape.
* Millennial Star, Vol. XII, p. 124.
There were outbreaks of cholera among the emigrant parties crossing the plains in 1849, and many deaths.
In October, 1849, an important company left Salt Lake City to augment the list of missionaries in Europe. It included John Taylor and two others, assigned to France; Lorenzo Snow and one other, to Italy; Erastus Snow and one other, to Denmark;* F. D. Richards and eight others, to England; and J. Fosgreene, to Sweden.
* Elder Dykes reported in October, 1851, that, on his arrival in Aalborg, Denmark, he found that a mob had broken in the windows of the Saints' meeting-house and destroyed the furniture, and had also broken the windows of the Saints' houses, and, by the mayor's advice, he left the city by the first steamer. Millennial Star, Vol. XIII, p. 346.
The system of Mormon emigration from Great Britain at that time seems to have been in the main a good one. The rule of the agent in Liverpool was not to charter a vessel until enough passengers had made their deposits to warrant him in doing so. The rate of fare depended on the price paid for the charter.* As soon as the passengers arrived in Liverpool they could go on board ship, and, when enough came from one district, all sailed on one vessel. Once on board, they were organized with a president and two counsellors,--men who had crossed the ocean, if possible,--who allotted the staterooms, appointed watchmen to serve in turn, and looked after the sanitary arrangements. When the first through passengers for Salt Lake City left Liverpool, in 1852, an experienced elder was sent in advance to have teams and supplies in readiness at the point where the land journey would begin, and other men of experience accompanied them to engage river portation when they reached New Orleans. The statistics of the emigration thus called out were as follows:--
* See Linforth's "Route," pp. to, 17-22; Mackay's "History of the Mormons," pp. 298-302; Pratt's letter to the Millennial Star, Vol. XI, p. 277.
YEAR VESSELS EMIGRANTS 1848 5 754 1849 9 2078 1850 6 1612 1851 4 1869
The Frontier Guardian at Kanesville estimated the Mormon movement across the plains in 1850 at about 700 wagons, taking 5000 horses and cattle and 4000 sheep.
Of the class of emigrants then going out, the manager of the leading shipping agents at Liverpool who furnished the ships said, "They are principally farmers and mechanics, with some few clerks, surgeons, and so forth." He found on the company's books, for the period between October, 1849, and March, 1850, the names of 16 miners, 20 engineers, 19 farmers, 108 laborers, 10 joiners, 25 weavers, 15 shoemakers, 12 smiths, 19 tailors, 8 watchmakers, 25 stone masons, 5 butchers, 4 bakers, 4 potters, 10 painters, 7 shipwrights, and 5 dyers.
The statistics of the Mormon emigration given by the British agency for the years named were as follows:--
YEAR VESSELS EMIGRANTS 1852 3 732 1853 7 2312 1854 9 2456 1852 1854, Scandinavian and German via Liverpool 1053 1855 13 4425
In 1853 the experiment was made of engaging to send adults from Liverpool to Utah for 10 pounds each and children for half price; but this did not succeed, and those who embraced the offer had to borrow money or teams to complete the journey.
In 1853, owing to extortions practised on the emigrants by the merchants and traders at Kanesville, as well as the unhealthfulness of the Missouri bottoms, the principal point of departure from the river was changed to Keokuk, Iowa. The authorities and people there showed the new-comers every kindness, and set apart a plot of ground for their camp. In this camp each company on its arrival was organized and provided with the necessary teams, etc. In 1854 the point of departure was again changed to Kansas, in western Missouri, fourteen miles west of Independence, the route then running to the Big Blue River, and through what are now the states of Kansas and Nebraska.
In 1855 the crops in Utah were almost a failure, and the church authorities found themselves very much embarrassed by their debts. A report in the seventh General Epistle, of April 18, 1852, set forth that, from their entry into the valley to March 27, of that year, there had been received as tithing, mostly in property, $244,747.03, and in loans and from other sources $145,513.78, of which total there had been expended in assisting immigrants and on church buildings, city lots, manufacturing industries, etc., $353,765.69. Young found it necessary therefore to cut down his expenses, and he looked around for a method of doing this without checking the stream of new-comers. The method which he evolved was to furnish the immigrants with hand-carts on their arrival in Iowa, and to let them walk all the way across the plains, taking with them only such effects as these carts would hold, each party of ten to drive with them one or two cows.
Although Young tried to throw the result of this experiment on others, the evidence is conclusive that he devised it and worked out its details. In a letter to Elder F. D. Richards, in Liverpool, dated September 30, 1855, Young said: "We cannot afford to purchase wagons and teams as in times past. I am consequently thrown back upon MY OLD PLAN--to make hand-carts, and let the emigration foot it." To show what a pleasant trip this would make, this head of the church, who had three times crossed the plains, added, "Fifteen miles a day will bring them through in 70 days, and, after they get accustomed to it, they will travel 20, 25, or even 30 with all ease, and no danger of giving out, but will continue to get stronger and stronger; the little ones and sick, if there are any, can be carried on the carts, but there will be none sick in a little time after they get started."*
* Millennial Star, Vol. VII, p. 813.
Directions in accordance with this plan were issued in the form of a circular in Liverpool in February, 1856, naming Iowa City, Iowa, as the point of outfit. The charge for booking through to Utah by the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company was fixed at 9 pounds for all over one year old, and 4 pounds 10 shillings. for younger infants. The use of trunks or boxes was discouraged, and the emigrants were urged to provide themselves with oil-cloth or mackintosh bags.
About thirteen hundred persons left Liverpool to undertake this foot journey across the plains, placing implicit faith in the pictures of Salt Lake Valley drawn by the missionaries, and not doubting that the method of travel would be as enjoyable as it seemed economical. Five separate companies were started that summer from Iowa City. The first and second of these arrived at Florence, Nebraska, on July 17, the third, made up mostly of Welsh, on July 19, and the fourth on August 11. The first company made the trip to Utah without anything more serious to report than the necessary discomforts of such a march, and were received with great acclaim by the church authorities, and welcomed with an elaborate procession. It was the last companies whose story became a tragedy.*
* The experiences of those companies were told in detail by a member of one, John Chislett, and printed in the "Rocky Mountain Saints." Mrs. Stenhouse gives additional experiences in her "Tell it All."
The immigrants met with their first disappointment on arriving at Iowa City. Instead of finding their carts ready for them, they were told that no advance agent had prepared the way. The last companies were subjected to the most delay from this cause. Even the carts were still to be manufactured, and, while they were making, many a family had to camp in the open fields, without even the shelter of a tent or a wagon top. The carts, when pronounced finished, moved on two light wheels, the only iron used in their construction being a very thin tire. Two projecting shafts of hickory or oak were joined by a cross piece, by means of which the owner propelled the vehicle. When Mr. Chislett's company, after a three weeks' delay, made a start, they were five hundred strong, comprising English, Scotch, and Scandanavians. They were divided, as usual, into hundreds, to each hundred being allotted five tents, twenty hand-carts, and one wagon drawn by three yokes of oxen, the latter carrying the tents and provisions. Families containing more young men than were required to draw their own carts shared these human draught animals with other families who were not so well provided; but many carts were pulled along by young girls.
The Iowans bestowed on the travellers both kindness and commiseration. Knowing better than did the new-comers from Europe the trials that awaited them, they pointed out the lateness of the season, and they did persuade a few members to give up the trip. But the elders who were in charge of the company were watchful, the religious spirit was kept up by daily meetings, and the one command that was constantly reiterated was, "Obey your leaders in all things."
A march of four weeks over a hot, dusty route was required to bring them to the Missouri River near Florence. Even there they were insufficiently supplied with food. With flour costing $3 per hundred pounds, and bacon seven or eight cents a pound, the daily allowance of food was ten ounces of flour to each adult, and four ounces to children under eight years old, with bacon, coffee, sugar, and rice served occasionally. Some of the men ate all their allowance for the day at their breakfast, and depended on the generosity of settlers on the way, while there were any, for what further food they had until the next morning.
After a week's stay at Florence (the old Winter Quarters), the march across the plains was resumed on August 18. The danger of making this trip so late in the season, with a company which included many women, children, and aged persons, gave even the elders pause, and a meeting was held to discuss the matter. But Levi Savage, who had made the trip to and from the valley, alone advised against continuing the march that season. The others urged the company to go on, declaring that they were God's people, and prophesying in His name that they would get through the mountains in safety. The emigrants, "simple, honest, eager to go to Zion at once, and obedient as little children to the servants of God,' voted to proceed." *
* A "bond," which each assisted emigrant was required to sign in Liverpool, contained the following stipulations: "We do severally and jointly promise and bind ourselves to continue with and obey the instructions of the agent appointed to superintend our passage thither to [Utah]. And that, on our arrival in Utah, we will hold ourselves, our time, and our labor, subject to the appropriation of the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company until the full cost of our emigration is paid, with interest if required."
As the teams provided could not haul enough flour to last the company to Utah, a sack weighing ninety-eight pounds was added to the load of each cart. One pound of flour a day was now allowed to each adult, and occasionally fresh beef. Soon after leaving Florence trouble began with the carts. The sand of the dry prairie got into the wooden hubs and ground the axles so that they broke, and constant delays were caused by the necessity of making repairs., No axle grease had been provided, and some of the company were compelled to use their precious allowance of bacon to grease the wheels. At Wood River, where the plains were alive with buffaloes, a stampede of the cattle occurred one night, and thirty of them were never recovered. The one yoke of oxen that was left to each wagon could not pull the load; an attempt to use the milch cows and heifers as draught animals failed, and the tired cart pullers had to load up again with flour.
While pursuing their journey in this manner, their camp was visited one evening by Apostle F. D. Richards and some other elders, on their way to Utah from mission work abroad. Richards severely rebuked Savage for advising that the trip be given up at Florence, and prophesied that the Lord would keep open a way before them. The missionaries, who were provided with carriages drawn by four horses each, drove on, without waiting to see this prediction confirmed.
On arriving at Fort Laramie, about the first of September, another evidence of the culpable neglect of the church authorities manifested itself. The supply of provisions that was to have awaited them there was wanting. They calculated the amount that they had on hand, and estimated that it would last only until they were within 350 miles of Salt Lake City; but, perhaps making the best of the situation, they voted to reduce the daily ration and to try to make the supply last by travelling faster. When they reached the neighborhood of Independence Rock, a letter sent back by Richards informed them that supplies would meet them at South Pass; but another calculation showed that what remained would not last them to the Pass, and again the ration was reduced, working men now receiving twelve ounces a day, other adults nine, and children from four to eight. Another source of discomfort now manifested itself. In order to accommodate matters to the capacity of the carts, the elders in charge had made it one of the rules that each outfit should be limited to seventeen pounds of clothing and bedding. As they advanced up the Sweetwater it became cold. The mountains appeared snow-covered, and the lack of extra wraps and bedding caused first discomfort, and then intense suffering, to the half-fed travellers. The necessity of frequently wading the Sweetwater chilled the stronger men who were bearing the brunt of the labor, and when morning dawned the occupants of the tents found themselves numb with the cold, and quite unfitted to endure the hardships of the coming day. Chislett draws this picture of the situation at that time:--
"Our old and infirm people began to droop, and they no sooner lost spirit and courage than death's stamp could be traced upon their features. Life went out as smoothly as a lamp ceases to burn when the oil is gone. At first the deaths occurred slowly and irregularly, but in a few days at more frequent intervals, until we soon thought it unusual to leave a camp ground without burying one or more persons. Death was not long confined in its ravages to the old and infirm, but the young and naturally strong were among its victims. Weakness and debility were accompanied by dysentery. This we could not stop or even alleviate, no proper medicines being in the camp; and in almost every instance it carried off the parties attacked. It was surprising to an unmarried man to witness the devotion of men to their families and to their faith under these trying circumstances. Many a father pulled his cart, with his little children on it, until the day preceding his death. These people died with the calm faith and fortitude of martyrs."
An Oregonian returning East, who met two of the more fortunate of these handcart parties, gave this description to the Huron (Ohio) Reflector in 1857:--
"It was certainly the most novel and interesting sight I have seen for many a day. We met two trains, one of thirty and the other of fifty carts, averaging about six to the cart. The carts were generally drawn by one man and three women each, though some carts were drawn by women alone. There were about three women to one man, and two-thirds of the women single. It was the most motley crew I ever beheld. Most of them were Danes, with a sprinkling of Welsh, Swedes, and English, and were generally from the lower classes of their countries. Most could not understand what we said to them. The road was lined for a mile behind the train with the lame, halt, sick, and needy. Many were quite aged, and would be going slowly along, supported by a son or daughter. Some were on crutches; now and then a mother with a child in her arms and two or three hanging hold of her, with a forlorn appearance, would pass slowly along; others, whose condition entitled them to a seat in a carriage, were wending their way through the sand. A few seemed in good spirits."
The belated company did not meet anyone to carry word of their condition to the valley, but among Richard's party who visited the camp at Wood River was Brigham Young's son, Joseph A. He realized the plight of the travellers, and when his father heard his report he too recognized the fact that aid must be sent at once. The son was directed to get together all the supplies he could obtain in the city or pick up on the way, and to start toward the East immediately. Driving on himself in a light wagon, he reached the advanced line, as they were toiling ahead through their first snowstorm. The provisions travelled slower, and could not reach them in less than one or two days longer. There was encouragement, of course, even in the prospect of release, but encouragement could not save those whose vitality was already exhausted. Camp was pitched that night among a grove of willows, where good fires were possible, but in the morning they awoke to find the snow a foot deep, and that five of their companions had been added to the death list during the night.
To add to the desperate character of the situation came the announcement that the provisions were practically exhausted, the last of the flour having been given out, and all that remained being a few dried apples, a little rice and sugar, and about twenty-five pounds of hardtack. Two of the cattle were killed, and the camp were informed that they would have to subsist on the supplies in sight until aid reached them. The best thing to do in these circumstances, indeed, the only thing, was to remain where they were and send messengers to advise the succoring party of the desperateness of their case. Their captain, Mr. Willie, and one companion acted as their messengers. They were gone three days, and in their absence Mr. Chislett had the painful duty of doling out what little food there was in camp. He speaks of his task as one that unmanned him. More cattle were killed, but beef without other food did not satisfy the hungry, and the epidemic of dysentery grew worse. The commissary officer was surrounded by a crowd of men and women imploring him for a little food, and it required all his power of reasoning to make them see that what little was left must be saved for the sick.
The party with aid from the valley had also encountered the snowstorm, and, not appreciating the desperate condition of the hand-cart immigrants, had halted to wait for better weather. As soon as Captain Willie took them the news, they hastened eastward, and were seen by the starving party at sunset, the third day after their captain's departure. "Shouts of joy rent the air," says Chislett. "Strong men wept till tears ran freely down their furrowed and sunburnt cheeks, and little children partook of the joy which some of them hardly understood, and fairly danced around with gladness. Restraint was set aside in the general rejoicing, and, as the brethren entered our camp, the sisters fell upon them and deluged them with kisses."
The timely relief saved many lives, but the end of the suffering had not been reached. A good many of the foot party were so exhausted by what they had gone through, that even their near approach to their Zion and their prophet did not stimulate them to make the effort to complete the journey. Some trudged along, unable even to pull a cart, and those who were still weaker were given places in the wagons. It grew colder, too, and frozen hands and feet became a common experience. Thus each day lessened by a few who were buried the number that remained.
Then came another snowstorm. What this meant to a weakened party like this dragging their few possessions in carts can easily be imagined. One family after another would find that they could not make further progress, and when a hill was reached the human teams would have to be doubled up. In this way, by travelling backward and forward, some progress was made. That day's march was marked by constant additions to the stragglers who kept dropping by the way. When the main body had made their camp for the night, some of the best teams were sent back for those who had dropped behind, and it was early morning before all of these were brought in.
The next morning Captain Willie was assigned to take count of the dead. An examination of the camp showed thirteen corpses, all stiffly frozen. They were buried in a large square hole, three or four abreast and three deep. "When they did not fit in," says Chislett, "we put one or two crosswise at the head or feet of the others. We covered them with willows and then with the earth." Two other victims were buried before nightfall. Parties passing eastward by this place the following summer found that the wolves had speedily uncovered the corpses, and that their bones were scattered all over the neighborhood.
Further deaths continued every day until they arrived at South Pass. There more assistance from the valley met them, the weather became warmer, and the health of the party improved, so that when they arrived at Salt Lake City they were in better condition and spirits. The date of their arrival there was November 9. The company which set out from Iowa City numbered about 500, of whom 400 set out from Florence across the plains. Of these 400, 67 died on the way, and there were a few deaths after they reached the end of their journey.
Another company of these hand-cart travellers left Florence still later than the ones whose sufferings have been described. They were in charge of an elder named Martin. Like their predecessors, they were warned against setting out so late as the middle of August, and many of them tried to give up the trip, but permission to do so was refused. Their sufferings began soon after they crossed the Platte, near Fort Laramie, and snow was encountered sixty miles east of Devil's Gate. When they reached that landmark, they decided that they could make no further progress with their hand-carts. They accordingly took possession of half a dozen dilapidated log houses, the contents of the wagons were placed in some of these, the hand-carts were left behind, and as many people as the teams could drag were placed in the wagons and started forward. One of the survivors of this party has written: "The track of the emigrants was marked by graves, and many of the living suffered almost worse than death. Men may be seen to-day in Salt Lake City, who were boys then, hobbling around on their club-feet, all their toes having been frozen off in that fearful march." * Twenty men who were left at Devil's Gate had a terrible experience, being compelled, before assistance reached them, to eat even the pieces of hide wrapped round their cart-wheels, and a piece of buffalo skin that had been used as a door-mat. Strange to say, all of these men reached the valley alive.
* "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 337.
We have seen that Brigham Young was the inventor of this hand-cart immigration scheme. Alarmed by the result of the experiment, as soon as the wretched remnant of the last two parties arrived in Salt Lake City, he took steps to place the responsibility for the disaster on other shoulders. The idea which he carried out was to shift the blame to F. D. Richards on the ground that he allowed the immigrants to start too late. In an address in the Tabernacle, while Captain Willie's party was approaching the city, he told the returned missionaries from England that they needed to be careful about eulogizing Richards and Spencer, lest they should have "the big head." When these men were in Salt Lake City he cursed them with the curse of the church. E. W. Tullidge, who was an editor of the Millennial Star in Liverpool under Richards when the hand-cart emigrants were collected, proposed, when in later years he was editing the Utah Magazine, to tell the facts about that matter; but when Young learned this, he ordered Godbe, the controlling owner of the magazine, to destroy that issue, after one side of the sheets had been printed, and he was obeyed.* Fortunately Young was not able to destroy the files of the Millennial Star.
* "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 342.
There is much that is thoroughly typical of Mormonism in the history of these expeditions. No converts were ever instilled with a more confident belief in the divine character of the ridiculous pretender, Joseph Smith. To no persons were more flagrant misrepresentations ever made by the heads of the church, and over none was the dictatorial authority of the church exercised more remorselessly. Not only was Utah held out to them as "a land where honest labor and industry meet with a suitable reward, and where the higher walks of life are open to the humblest and poorest," * but they were informed that, if they had not faith enough to undertake the trip to Utah, they had not "faith sufficient to endure, with the Saints in Zion, the celestial law which leads to exaltation and eternal life." Young wrote to Richards privately in October, 1855, "Adhere strictly to our former suggestion of walking them through across the plains with hand-carts";** and Richards in an editorial in the Star thereupon warned the Saints: "The destroying angel is abroad. Pestilence and gaunt famine will soon increase the terrors of the scene to an extent as yet without a parallel in the records of the human race. If the anticipated toils of the journey shake your faith in the promises of the Lord, it is high time that you were digging about the foundation of it, and seeing if it be founded on the root of the Holy Priesthood," etc.
* Thirteenth General Epistle, Millennial Star, Vol. XVIII, p. 49.
** Millennial Star, Vol. XVIII, p, 61.
The direct effect of such teaching is shown in two letters printed in the Millennial Star of June 14, 1856. In the first of these, a sister, writing to her brother in Liverpool from Williamsburg, New York, confesses her surprise on learning that the journey was to be made with hand-carts, says that their mother cannot survive such a trip, and that she does not think the girls can, points out that the limitation regarding baggage would compel them to sell nearly all their clothes, and proposes that they wait in New York or St. Louis until they could procure a wagon. In his reply the brother scorns this advice, says that he would not stop in New York if he were offered 10,000 pounds besides his expenses, and adds "Brothers, sisters, fathers or mothers, when they put a stumbling block in the way of my salvation, are nothing more to me than Gentiles. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and when we start we will go right up to Zion, if we go ragged and barefoot."
Young found himself hard put to meet the church obligations in 1856, notwithstanding the economy of the hand-cart system; and the Millennial Star of December 27 announced that no assisted emigrants would be sent out during the following year. Saints proposing to go through at their own expense were informed, however, that the church bureau would supply them with teams. Those proposing to use hand-carts were told of the "indispensable necessity" of having their whole outfit ready on their arrival at Iowa City, and the bureau offered to supply this at an estimated cost of 3 pounds per head, any deficit to be made up on their arrival there.*
* "The agency of the Mormon emigration at that time was a very profitable appointment. By arrangement with ship brokers at Liverpool, a commission of half a guinea per head was allowed the agent for every adult emigrant that he sent across the Atlantic, and the railroad companies in New York allowed a percentage on every emigrant ticket. But a still larger revenue was derived from the outfitting on the frontiers. The agents purchased all the cattle, wagons, tents, wagon-covers, flour, cooking utensils, stoves, and the staple articles for a three months' journey across the Plains, and from them the Saints supplied themselves."--" Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 340.
We have seen that Joseph Smith's desire was, when he suggested a possible removal of the church to the Far West, that they should have, not only an undisturbed place of residence, but a government of their own. This idea of political independence Young never lost sight of. Had Utah remained a distant province of the Mexican government, the Mormons might have been allowed to dwell there a long time, practically without governmental control. But when that region passed under the government of the United States by the proclamation of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, on July 4, 1848, Brigham Young had to face anew situation. He then decided that what he wanted was an independent state government, not territorial rule under the federal authorities, and he planned accordingly. Every device was employed to increase the number of the Saints in Utah, to bring the population up to the figure required for admission as a state, and he encouraged outlying settlements at every attractive point. In this way, by 1851, Ogden and Provo had become large enough to form Stakes, and in a few years the country around Salt Lake City was dotted with settlements, many of them on lands to which the "Lamanites," who held so deep a place in Joseph Smith's heart, asserted in vain their ancestral titles.
The first General Epistle sent out from Great Salt Lake City, in 1849, thus explained the first government set up there, "In consequence of Indian depredations on our horses, cattle, and other property, and the wicked conduct of a few base fellows who came among the Saints, the inhabitants of this valley, as is common in new countries generally, have organized a temporary government to exist during its necessity, or until we can obtain a charter for a territorial government, a petition for which is already in progress."
On March 4, 1849, a convention, to which were invited all the inhabitants of upper California east of the Sierra Nevadas, was held in Great Salt Lake City to frame a system of government. The outcome was the adoption of a constitution for a state to be called the State of Deseret, and the election of a full set of state officers. The boundaries of this state were liberal. Starting at a point in what is now New Mexico, the line was to run down to the Mexican border, then west along the border of lower California to the Pacific, up the coast to 118 degrees 30 minutes west longitude, north to the dividing ridge of the Sierra Nevadas, and along their summit to the divide between the Columbia River and the Salt Lake Basin, and thence south to the place of beginning, "by the dividing range of mountains that separate the waters flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from the waters flowing into the Gulf of California." The constitution adopted followed the general form of such instruments in the United States. In regard to religion it declared, "All men have a natural and inalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences; and the General Assembly shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or disturb any person in his religious worship or sentiments." *
*For text of this constitution and the memorial to Congress, see Millennial Star, January 15, 1850.
An epistle of the Twelve to Orson Pratt in England, explaining this subject, said, "We have petitioned the Congress of the United States for the organization of a territorial government here. Until this petition is granted, we are under the necessity of organizing a local government for the time being."* The territorial government referred to was that of the State of Deseret. The local government mentioned was organized on March 12, by the election of Brigham Young as governor, H. C. Kimball as chief justice, John Taylor and N. K. Whitney as associate justices, and the Bishops of the wards as city magistrates, with minor positions filled. Six hundred and seventy-four votes were polled for this ticket.
* Millennial Star, Vol. XI, p. 244.
The General Assembly, chosen later, met on July 2, and adopted a memorial to Congress setting forth the failure of that body to provide any form of government for the territory ceded by Mexico,* declaring that "the revolver and the bowie knife have been the highest law of the land," and asking for the admission of the State of Deseret into the Union. That same year the Californians framed a government for themselves, and a plan was discussed to consolidate California and Deseret until 1851, when a separation should take place. The governor of California condemned this scheme, and the legislature gave it no countenance.
* "When Congress adjourned on March 4, 1849, all that had been done toward establishing some form of government for the immense domain acquired by the treaty with Mexico was to extend over it the revenue laws and make San Francisco a port of entry."--Bancroft's "Utah," p. 446.
The Mormons had a confused idea about the government that they had set up. In the constitution adopted they called their domain the State of Deseret, but they allowed their legislature to elect their representative in Congress, sending A. W. Babbitt as their delegate to Washington, with their memorial asking for the admission of Deseret, or that they be given "such other form of civil government as your wisdom and magnanimity may award to the people of Deseret." The Mormons' old political friend in Illinois, Stephen A. Douglas, presented this memorial in the Senate on December 27, 1849, with a statement that it was an application for admission as a state, but with the alternative of admission as a territory if Congress should so direct. The memorial was referred to the Committee on Territories.
On the 31st of December, a counter memorial against the admission of the Mormon state was presented by Mr. Underwood of Kentucky, a Whig. This was signed by William Smith, the prophet's brother, and Isaac Sheen (who called themselves the "legitimate presidents" of the Mormon church), and by twelve other members. This memorial alleged that fifteen hundred of the emigrants from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City, before their departure for Illinois, took the following oath:--
"You do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, his holy angels, and these witnesses, that you will avenge the blood of Joseph Smith upon this nation; and so teach your children; and that you will from this day henceforth and forever begin and carry out hostility against this nation, and keep the same a profound secret now and ever. So help you God."
This memorial also set forth that the Mormons were practising polygamy in the Salt Lake Valley; that since their arrival there they had tried two Indian agents on a charge of participation in the expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri, and that they were, by their own assumed authority, imposing duties on all goods imported into the Salt Lake region from the rest of the United States. Senator Douglas, in an explanation concerning the latter charge, admitted that Delegate Babbitt acknowledged the levying of duties, the excuse being that the Mormons had found it necessary to set up a government for themselves, pending the action of Congress, and as a means of revenue they had imposed duties on all goods brought into and sold within the limits of Great Salt Lake City, but asserted that goods simply passing through were not molested. This tax seems to have been established entirely by the church authorities, the first of the "ordinances" of the Deseret legislature being dated January 15, 1850.
The constitution of Deseret was presented to the House of Representatives by Mr. Boyd, a Kentucky Democrat, on January 28, 1850, and referred to the Committee on Territories. On July 25, John Wentworth, an Illinois Democrat, presented a petition from citizens of Lee County, in his state, asking Congress to protect the rights of American citizens passing through the Salt Lake Valley, and charging on the organizers of the State of Deseret treason, a desire for a kingly government, murder, robbery, and polygamy.
The Mormon memorial was taken up in the House of Representatives on July 18, after the committee had unanimously reported that "it is inexpedient to admit Almon W. Babbitt, Esq., to a seat in this body from the alleged State of Deseret." A long debate on the admission of the delegate from New Mexico had deferred action. The chairman of the committee, Mr. Strong, a Pennsylvania Whig, explained that their report was founded on the terms of the Mormon memorial, which did not ask for Babbitt's reception as a delegate until some form of government was provided for them. Mr. McDonald, an Indiana Whig, offered an amendment admitting Babbitt, and a debate of considerable length followed, in which the slavery question received some attention. The Committee of the Whole voted to report to the House the resolution against seating Babbitt, and then the House, by a vote of 104 yeas to 78 nays, laid the resolution on the table (on motion of its friends), and tabled a motion for reconsideration. On the 9th of September following, the law for the admission of Utah as a territory was signed. The boundaries defined were California on the west, Oregon on the north, the summit of the Rocky Mountains on the east, and the 37th parallel of north latitude on the south.
There is no reason to believe that, to the date of Joseph Smith's death, Brigham Young had inspired his fellow-Mormons with an idea of his leadership. This was certified to by one of the most radical of them, Mayor Jedediah M. Grant of Salt Lake City, in 1852, in these words:--
"When Joseph Smith lived, a man about whose real character and pretensions we differ, Joseph was often and almost invariably imposed upon by those in whom he placed his trust. There was one man--only one of his early adherents--he could always rely upon to stick to him closer than a brother, steadfast in faith, clear in counsel, and foremost in fight. He seemed a plain man in those days, of a wonderful talent for business and hundred horse-power of industry, but least of everything affecting cleverness or quickness. Honest Brigham Young,' or hard-working Brigham Young,' was nearly as much as you would ever hear him called, though he was the almost universal executor and trustee of men's wills and trusteed estates, and a confidential manager of our most intricate church affairs."*
* Grant's pamphlet, "Truth about the Mormons."
When the Saints found themselves in Salt Lake Valley they had learned something from experience. They could not fail to realize that, distant as they now were from outside interference, union among themselves was an essential to success. The body of the church was soon composed of two elements--those who had constituted the church in the East, and the new members who were pouring in from Europe. Young established his leadership with both of these parties in the early days. There was much to discourage in those days--a soil to cultivate that required irrigation, houses to build where material was scarce, and starvation to fight year after year. Young encouraged everybody by his talk at the church meetings, shared in the manual labor of building houses and cultivating land, and devised means to entertain and encourage those who were disposed to look on their future darkly. No one ever heard him, whatever others might say, doubt the genuineness of Joseph Smith's inspiration and revelations, and he so established his own position as Smith's successor that he secured the devout allegiance of the old flock, without making such business mistakes as weakened Smith's reputation. "I believed," says John D. Lee, one of the most trusted and prominent of the church members almost to the day of his death, "that Brigham Young spoke by the direction of the God of heaven. I would have suffered death rather than have disobeyed any command of his." Said Young's associate in the First Presidency, Heber C. Kimball, "To me the word comes from Brother Brigham as the word of God," and again, "His word is the word of God to his people."*
The new-comers from Europe were simply helpless. They were, in the first place, religious enthusiasts, who believed, when they set out on their journey, that they were going to a real Zion. Large numbers of them were indebted to the church for at least a part of their passage money from the day of their arrival. Few of those who had paid their own way brought much cash capital, all depending on the representations about the richness of the valley which had been held out to them. Once, there, they soon realized that all must sustain the same policy if the church was to be a success. They were, too, of that superstitious class which was ready, not only to believe in modern miracles, "signs," and revelations, but actually hungered for such manifestations, and, once accepting membership in the church, they accepted with it the dictation of the head of the church in all things. Secretary Fuller has told me that, after he ascertained the existence of gold near Salt Lake City, he said to an intelligent goldsmith there, "Why do you not look for the gold you need in your business in the mountains?" "Why," was the reply, "if I went to the mountains and found gold, and put it into my pouch, the pouch would be empty when I got back to the city. I know this is so, because Brigham Young has told me so."
* Journal of Discourses, VOL IV, p. 47.
The extent of the dictatorship which Young prescribed and carried out in all matters, spiritual and commercial, might be questioned if we were not able to follow the various steps taken in establishing his authority, and to illustrate its scope, by the testimony, not of men who suffered from it, but by his own words and those of his closest associates. With a blindness which seems incomprehensible, the sermons, or "discourses," delivered in the early days in Salt Lake City were printed under church authority, and are preserved in the journal of Discourses. The student of this chapter of the church's history can obtain what information he wants by reading the volumes of this Journal. The language used is often coarse, but there is never any difficulty in understanding the speakers.
Young referred to his own plain speaking in a discourse on October 6, 1855. He said that he had received advice about bridling his tongue--a wheelbarrow load of such letters from the East, especially on the subject of his attacks on the Gentiles. "Do you know," he asked, "how I feel when I get such communications? I will tell you. I feel just like rubbing their noses with them."* In a discourse on February 17, 1856, he vouchsafed this explanation, "If I were preaching abroad in the world, I should feel myself somewhat obliged, through custom, to adhere to the wishes and feelings of the people in regard to pursuing the thread of any given subject; but here I feel as free as air." **
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, p. 48.
** Ibid., p. 211.
Mention has already been made of Young's refusal to continue Smith's series of "revelations." In doing this he never admitted for a moment any lack of authority as spokesman for the Almighty. A few illustrations will make clear his position in this matter. Defining his view of his own authority, before the General Conference in Salt Lake City, on April 6, 1850, he said, "It is your privilege and it is mine to receive revelation; and my privilege to dictate to the church." *
* Millennial Star, VOL XII, p, 273.
When the site of the Temple was consecrated, in 1853, there were many inquiries whether a revelation had been given about its construction. Young said, "If the Lord and all the people want a revelation, I can give one concerning this Temple"; but he did not do so, declaring that a revelation was no more necessary concerning the building of a temple than it was concerning a kitchen or a bedroom.* We must certainly concede to this man a dictator's daring.
* Ibid., Vol. XV, p. 391.
An early illustration of Young's policy toward all Mormon offenders was given in the case of the so-called "Gladdenites." There were members of the church even in Utah who were ready to revolt when the open announcement of the "revelation" regarding polygamy was made in 1852, and they found a leader in Gladden Bishop, who had had much experience in apostasy, repentance, and readmission.* These men held meetings and made considerable headway, but when the time came for Brigham to exercise his authority he did it.
* "This Gladden gave Joseph much trouble; was cut off from the church and taken back and rebaptized nine times."--Ferris, "Utah and the Mormons," p. 326.
On Sunday, March 20, 1853, a meeting, orderly in every respect, which the Gladdenites were holding in front of the Council House, was dispersed by the city marshal, and another, called for the next Sunday, was prohibited entirely. Then Alfred Smith, a leading Gladdenite, who had accused Young of robbing him of his property, was arrested and locked up until he gave a promise to discontinue his rebellion. On the 27th of March Young made the Gladdenites the subject of a large part of his discourse in the Tabernacle. What he said is thus stated in the church report of the address:--
"I say to those persons: You must not court persecution here, lest you get so much of it you will not know what to do with it. Do not court persecution. We have known Gladden Bishop for more than twenty years, and know him to be a poor, dirty curse . . . . I say again, you Gladdenites, do not court persecution, or you will get more than you want, and it will come quicker than you want it. I say to you Bishops, do not allow them to preach in your wards." (After telling of a dream he had had, in which he saw two men creep into the bed where one of his wives was lying, whereupon he took a large bowie knife and cut one of their throats from ear to ear, saying, "Go to hell across lots," he continued:) "I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here I will unsheath my bowie knife and conquer or die." (Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration.) "Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put to the line and righteousness to the plummet." (Voices generally, "Go it," "go it.") "If you say it is all right, raise your hand." (All hands up.) "Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this and every good work." *
*Journal of Discourses, Vol. I, p. 82.
This was the practical end of Gladdenism.
Young's dictatorship was quite as broad and determined in things temporal as in things spiritual. He made no concealment of the fact that he was a moneygetter, only insisting on his readiness to contribute to the support of church enterprises. The canons through the mountains which shut in the valley were the source of wood supply for the city, and their control was very valuable. Young brought this matter before the Conference of October 9, 1852, speaking on it at length, and finally putting his own view in the form of a resolution that the canons be placed in the hands of individuals, who should make good roads through them, and obtain their pay by taking toll at the entrance. After getting the usual unanimous vote on his proposition, he said: "Let the Judges of the County of Great Salt Lake take due notice and govern themselves accordingly . . . . This is my order for the judges to take due notice of. It does not come from the Governor, but from the President of the church. You will not see any proclamation in the paper to this effect, but it is a mere declaration of the President of the Conference."* The "declaration," of course, had all the effect of a law, and Young got one of the best canons.
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. I, pp. 217, 218.
Very early in his rule Young defined his views about the property rights of the Saints. "A man," he declared in the Tabernacle on June 5, 1853, "has no right with property which, according to the laws of the land, legally belongs to him, if he does not want to use it . . . . When we first came into the valley, the question was asked me if men would ever be allowed to come into this church, and remain in it, and hoard up their property. I say, no." *
* Ibid., Vol. I, pp. 252-253
Another view of property rights was thus set forth in his discourse of December 5, 1853:--
"If an Elder has borrowed [a hundred or a thousand dollars from you], and you find he is going to apostatize, then you may tighten the screws on him. But if he is willing to preach the Gospel without purse or scrip, it is none of your business what he does with the money he has borrowed from you." *
* Ibid, Vol. I, p. 340.
Addressing the people in the trying business year of 1856, when his own creditors were pushing him hard, Young said:
"I wish to give you one text to preach upon, From this time henceforth do not fret thy gizzard.' I will pay you when I can and not before. Now I hope you will apostatize if you would rather do it."*
* Ibid., Vol. III, p. 4.
Kimball, in giving Young's order to some seventy men, who had displeased him, to leave the territory, used these words: "When a man is appointed to take a mission, unless he has a just and honorable reason for not going, if he does not go he will be severed from the church. Why? Because you said you were willing to be passive, and, if you are not passive, that lump of clay must be cut off from the church and laid aside, and a lump put on that will be passive." *
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, p. 242.
With this testimony of men inside the church may be placed that of Captain Howard Stansbury, of the United Stated Topographical Engineers, who arrived in the valley in August, 1849, under instructions from the government to make a survey of the lakes of that region. The Mormons thought that it was the intention of the government to divide the land into townships and sections, and to ignore their claim to title by occupation. In his official report, after mentioning his haste to disabuse Young's mind on this point, Captain Stansbury says, "I was induced to pursue this conciliatory course, not only in justice to the government, but also because I knew, from the peculiar organization of this singular community, that, unless the President' was fully satisfied that no evil was intended to his people, it would be useless for me to attempt to carry out my instructions." The choice between abject conciliation or open conflict was that which Brigham Young extended to nearly every federal officer who entered Utah during his reign.
The Mormons of Utah started in to assert their independence of the government of the United States in every way. The rejection of the constitution of Deseret by Congress did not hinder the elected legislature from meeting and passing laws. The ninth chapter of the "ordinances," as they were called, passed by this legislature (on January 19, 1851) was a charter for Great Salt Lake City. This charter provided for the election of a mayor, four aldermen, nine councillors, and three judges, the first judges to be chosen viva voce, and their successors by the City Council. The appointment of eleven subordinate officers was placed in the Council's hands. The mayor and aldermen were to be the justices of the peace, with a right of appeal to the municipal court, consisting of the same persons sitting together, and from that to the probate court. The first mayor, aldermen, and councillors were appointed by the governor of the State of Deseret. Similar charters were provided for Ogden, Provo City, and other settlements.
As soon as Salt Lake City was laid off into wards, Young had a Bishop placed over each of these, and, always under his direction, these Bishops practically controlled local affairs to the date of the city charter. Each Bishop came to be a magistrate of his ward,* and under them in all the settlements all public work was carried on and all revenue collected. The High Council of ten is defined by Tullidge as "a quorum of judges, in equity for the people, at the head of which is the President of the state."
* Brigham Young testified in the Tabernacle as to the kind of justice that was meted out in the Bishops' courts. In his sermon of March 6, 1856, he said: "There are men here by the score who do not know their right hands from their left, so far as the principles of justice are concerned. Does our High Council? No, for they will let men throw dirt in their eyes until you cannot find the one hundred millionth part of an ounce of common sense in them. You may go to the Bishops' courts, and what are they? A set of old grannies. They cannot judge a case pending between two old women, to say nothing of a case between man and man:' Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, p. 225.
These men did not hesitate to attempt a currency of their own. On the arrival of the Mormons in the valley, they first made their exchanges through barter. Paper currency was issued in 1849 and some years later. When gold dust from California appeared in 1849, some of it was coined in Salt Lake City by means of homemade dies and crucibles. The denominations were $2.50, $5, $10, and $20. Some of these coins, made without alloy, were stamped with a bee-hive and eagle on one side, and on the reverse with the motto, "Holiness to the Lord" in the so-called Deseret alphabet. This alphabet was invented after their arrival in Salt Lake Valley, to assist in separating the Mormons from the rest of the nation, its preparation having been intrusted to a committee of the board of regents in 1853. It contained thirty-two characters. A primer and two books of the Mormon Bible were printed in the new characters, the legislature in 1855 having voted $2500 to meet the expense; but the alphabet was never practically used, and no attempt is any longer made to remember it. Early in 1849 the High Council voted that the Kirtland bank-bills (of which a supply must have remained unissued) be put out on a par with gold, and in this they saw a fulfilment of the prophet's declaration that these notes would some day be as good as gold.
Another early ordinance passed by the Deseret legislature incorporated "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," authorizing the appointment of a trustee in trust to hold and manage all the property of the church, which should be free from tax, and giving the church complete authority to make its own regulations, "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, tithing, 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 on the revelations of the Lord." Thus early was the ground taken that the practice of polygamy was a constitutional right. Brigham Young was chosen as the trustee.
The second ordinance passed by this legislature incorporated the University of the State of Deseret, at Salt Lake City, to be governed by a chancellor and twelve regents.
The earliest non-Mormons to experience the effect of that absolute Mormon rule, the consequences of which the Missourians had feared, were the emigrants who passed through Salt Lake Valley on their way to California after the discovery of gold, or on their way to Oregon. The complaints of the Californians were set forth in a little book, written by one of them, Nelson Slater, and printed in Colona, California, in 1851, under the title, "Fruits of Mormonism." The general complaints were set forth briefly in a petition to Congress containing nearly two hundred and fifty signatures, dated Colona, June 1, 1851, which asked that the territorial government be abrogated, and a military government be established in its place. This petition charged that many emigrants had been murdered by the Mormons when there was a suspicion that they had taken part in the earlier persecutions; that when any members of the Mormon community, becoming dissatisfied, tried to leave, they were pursued and killed; that the Mormons levied a tax of two per cent on the property of emigrants who were compelled to pass a winter among them; that it was nearly impossible for emigrants to obtain justice in the Mormon courts; that the Mormons, high and low, openly expressed treasonable sentiments against the United States government; and that letters of emigrants mailed at Salt Lake City were opened, and in many instances destroyed.
Mr. Slater's book furnishes the specifications of these general charges.
Young soon had occasion to make practical use of the dictatorial power that he had assumed. The character which those members of the flock who had migrated from Missouri and Illinois had established among their neighbors in those states was not changed simply by their removal to a wilderness all by themselves. They had no longer the old excuse that their misdeeds were reprisals on persecuting enemies, but this did not save them from the temptation to exercise their natural propensities. Again we shall take only the highest Mormon testimony on this subject.
One of the first sins for which Young openly reproved his congregation was profane swearing. He brought this matter pointedly to their attention in an address to the Conference of October 9, 1852, when he said: "You Elders of Israel will go into the canons, and curse and swear--damn and curse your oxen, and swear by Him who created you. I am telling the truth. Yes, you rip and curse and swear as bad as any pirates ever did."*
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. I, p. 211.
Possibly the church authorities could have overlooked the swearing, but a matter which gave them more distress was the insecurity of property. This became so great an annoyance that Young spoke out plainly on the subject, and he did not attempt to place the responsibility outside of his own people. A few citations will illustrate this.
In an address in the Tabernacle on June 5, 1853, noticing complaints about the stealing and rebranding of cattle, he said: "I will propose a plan to stop the stealing of cattle in coming time, and it is this--let those who have cattle on hand join in a company, and fence in about fifty thousand acres of land, and so keep on fencing until all the vacant land is substantially enclosed. Some persons will perhaps say, I do not know how good or how high a fence it will be necessary to build to keep thieves out.' I do not know either, except you build one that will keep out the devil."* On another occasion, with a personal grievance to air, he said in the Tabernacle: "I have gone to work and made roads to get wood, and have not been able to get it. I have cut it down and piled it up, and still have not got it. I wonder if anybody else can say so. Have any of you piled up your wood, and, when you have gone back, could not find it? Some stories could be told of this kind that would make professional thieves ashamed."**
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. I, p. 252.
** Ibid., Vol. I, p. 213.
Young made no concealment of the fact that men high in the councils of the church were among the peculators. In his discourse of June 15, 1856, he said: "I have proof ready to show that Bishops have taken in thousands of pounds in weight of tithing which they have never reported to the General Tithing Office. We have documents to show that Bishops have taken in hundreds of bushels of wheat, and only a small portion of it has come into the General Tithing Office. They stole it to let their friends speculate upon."*
* Ibid., Vol. III, p. 342.
The new-comers from Europe also received his attention. Referring to unkept promises of speedy repayment by assisted immigrants of advances made to them, Young said, in 1855: "And what will they do when they get here? Steal our wagons, and go off with them to Canada, and try to steal the bake-kettles, fryingpans, tents, and wagon-covers; and will borrow the oxen and run away with them, if you do not watch them closely. Do they all do this? No, but many of them will try to do it."* And again, a month later: "What previous characters some of you had in Wales, in England, in Scotland, and perhaps in Ireland. Do not be scared if it is proven against some one in the Bishop's court that you did steal the poles from your neighbor's garden fence. If it is proven that you have been to some person's wood pile and stolen wood, don't be frightened, for if you will steal it must be made manifest." ** J. M. Grant was quite as plain spoken. In an address in the bowery in Salt Lake City in September, 1856, he declared that "you can scarcely find a place in this city that is not full of filth and abominations."***
* Ibid., Vol. III, p. 3.
** Ibid., Vol. III, p. 49.
*** Ibid., Vol. IV, p. 51.
Young's denunciations were not quietly accepted, but protests and threats were alike wasted upon him. Referring to complaints of some of the flock that his denunciation was more than they could bear, he replied, "But you have got to bear it, and, if you will not, make up your minds to go to hell at once and have done with it." * On another occasion he said, "You need, figuratively, to have it rain pitchforks, tines downward, from this pulpit, Sunday after Sunday." On another occasion, alluding to letters he had received, warning him against attacking men's characters, he said, "When such epistles come to me, I feel like saying, I ask no advice of you nor of all your clan this side of hell."**
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, p. 49.
** Ibid, p. 50.
When mere denunciation did not reform his followers, Young became still plainer in his language, and began to explain to them the latitude which the church proposed to take in applying punishment. In a remarkable sermon on October 6, 1855, on the "stealing, lying, deceiving, wickedness, and covetousness" of the elders in Israel, he spoke as follows:--
"Live on here, then, you poor miserable curses, until the time of retribution, when your heads will have to be severed from your bodies. Just let the Lord Almighty say, Lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet,* and the time of thieves is short in this community. What do you suppose they would say in old Massachusetts should they hear that the Latter-day Saints had received a revelation or commandment to lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet'? What would they say in old Connecticut? They would raise a universal howl of, How wicked the Mormons are. They are killing the evil doers who are among them. Why, I hear that they kill the wicked away up yonder in Utah.' . . . What do I care for the wrath of man? No more than I do for the chickens that run in my door yard. I am here to teach the ways of the Lord, and lead men to life everlasting; but if they have not a mind to go there, I wish them to keep out of my path."**
* These words, from Isaiah xxviii. 17, are constantly used by Young to denote the extreme punishment which the church might inflict on any offender.
** Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, p. 50.
From this time Young and his closest associates seemed to make no concealment of their intention to take the lives of any persons whom they considered offenders. One or two more citations from his discourses may be made to sustain this statement. On February 24, 1856, he declared, "I am not afraid of all hell, nor of all the world, in laying judgment to the line when the Lord says so."* In the following month he told his congregation: "The time is coming when justice will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet; when we shall take the old broadsword and ask, Are you for God? And if you are not heartily on the Lord's side, you will be hewn down."** Heber C. Kimball was equally plain spoken. A year earlier he had said in the Tabernacle: "If a man rebels, I will tell him of it, and if he resents a timely warning, HE IS UNWISE . . . . I have never yet shed man's blood, and I pray to God that I never may, unless it is actually necessary."*** Sultans and doges have freely used assassination as a weapon, but it seems to have remained for the Mormon church under Brigham Young to declare openly its intention to make whatever it might call church apostasy subject to capital punishment.
*Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, p. 241.
** Ibid., p. 266.
*** Ibid., pp, 163-164.
Out of the lawless condition of the Mormon flock, as we have thus seen it pictured, and out of this radical view of the proper punishment of offenders, resulted, in 1856, that remarkable movement still known in Mormondon as "The Reformation "--a movement that has been characterized by one writer as "a reign of lust and fanatical fury unequalled since the Dark Ages," and by another as "a fanaticism at once blind, dangerous, and terrible." During its continuance the religious zealot, the amorous priest, the jealous lover, the man covetous of worldly goods, and the framers of the church policy, from acknowledged Apostle to secret Danite, all had their own way. " Were I counsel for a Mormon on trial for a crime committed at the time under consideration, I should plead wholesale insanity," said J. H. Beadle. It was during this period that that system was perfected under which the life of no man,--or company of men,--against whom the wrath of the church was directed, was of any value; no household was safe from the lust of any aged elder; no person once in the valley could leave it alive against the church's consent.
The active agent in starting "The Reformation" was the inventor of "blood atonement," Jedediah M. Grant.* That his censure of a Bishop and his counsellors at Kayesville was the actual origin of the movement, as has been stated,** cannot be accepted as proven, in view of the preparation made for the era of blood, as indicated in the church discourses. Lieutenant Gunnison, for whom the Mormons in later years always asserted their friendship, writing concerning his observations as early as 1852, said:--
* A correspondent of the. New York Times at this date described Grant as "a tall, thin, repulsive-looking man, of acute, vigorous intellect, a thorough-paced scoundrel, and the most essential blackguard in the pulpit. He was sometimes called Brigham's sledge hammer."
** "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 293.
"Witnesses are seldom put on oath in the lower courts, and there is nothing known of the law's delay,' and the quibbles whereby the ends of truth and justice may be defeated. But they have a criminal code called The Laws of the Lord,' which has been given by revelation and not promulgated, the people not being able quite to bear it, or the organization still too imperfect. It is to be put in force, however, before long, and when in vogue, all grave crimes will be punished and atoned for by cutting off the head of the offender. This regulation arises from the fact that without shedding of blood there is no remission."*
* "History of the Mormons," Book 1, Chapter X.
Gunnison's statement furnishes indisputable proof that this legal system was so generally talked of some four years before it was put in force that it came to the ears of a non-Mormon temporary resident.
After the condemnation of the Kayesville offenders and their rebaptism, the next move was the appointment of missionaries to hold services in every ward, and the sending out of what were really confessors, appointed for every block, to inquire of all--young and old--concerning the most intimate details of their lives. The printed catechism given to these confessors was so indelicate that it was suppressed in later years. These prying inquisitors found opportunity to gain information for their superiors about any persons suspected of disloyalty, and one use they made of their visitations was to urge the younger sisters to be married to the older men, as a readier means of salvation than union with men of their own age. That there was opposition to this espionage is shown by some remarks of H. C. Kimball in the Tabernacle, in March, 1856, when he said: "I have heard some individuals saying that, if the Bishops came into their houses and opened their cupboards, they would split their heads open. THAT WOULD NOT BE A WISE OR SAFE OPERATION." *
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, p. 271.
Some of the information secured by the church confessional was embarrassing to the leaders. At a meeting of male members in Social Hall, Young, Grant, and others denounced the sinners in scathing terms, Young ending his remarks by saying, "All you who have been guilty of committing adultery, stand up." At once more than three-quarters of those present arose.* For such confessors a way of repentance was provided through rebaptism, but the secretly accused had no such avenue opened to them.
* "A leading Bishop in Salt Lake City stated to the author that Brigham was as much appalled at this sight as was Macbeth when he beheld the woods of Birnam marching on to Dunsinane. A Bishop arose and asked if there were not some misunderstanding among the brethren concerning the question. He thought that perhaps the elders understood Brigham's inquiry to apply to their conduct before they had thrown off the works of the devil and embraced Mormonism; but upon Brigham reiterating that it was the adultery committed since they had entered the church, the brethren to a man still stood up:"--"Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 296.
One of the first victims of the reformers was H. J. Jarvis, a reputable merchant of Salt Lake City. He was dragged over his counter one evening and thrown into the street by men who then robbed his store and defiled his household goods, giving him as the cause of the visitation the explanation that he had spoken evil of the authorities, and had invited Gentiles to supper. His two wives could not secure even a hearing from Young in his behalf.* This, however, was a minor incident.
* "Rocky Mountain Saints;" p. 297.
That Young's rule should be objected to by some members of the church was inevitable. There were men in the valley at that early day who would rebel against such a dictatorship under any name; others--men of means--who were alarmed by the declarations about property rights, and others to whom the announcement concerning polygamy was repugnant. When such persons gave expression to their discontent, they angered the church officers; when they indicated their purpose to leave the valley, they alarmed them. Anything like an exodus of the flock would have broken up all of Young's plans, and have undone the scheme of immigration that had cost so much time and money. Accordingly, when this movement for "reform" began, the church let it be known that any desertion of the flock would be considered the worst form of apostasy, and that the deserter must take the consequences. To quote Brigham Young's own words: "The moment a person decides to leave this people, he is cut off from every object that is desirable for time and eternity. Every possession and object of affection will be taken from those who forsake the truth, and their identity and existence will eventually cease."*
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. IV, p. 31.
The almost unbreakable hedge that surrounded the inhabitants of the valley at this time, under the system of church espionage, has formed a subject for the novelist, and has seemed to many persons, as described, a probable exaggeration. But, while Young did not narrate in his pulpit the tales of blood which his instructions gave rise to, there is testimony concerning them which leaves no reasonable doubt of their truthfulness.
The murders committed during the "Reformation" which attracted most attention, both because of the parties concerned, the effort made by a United States judge to convict the guilty, and the confessions of the latter subsequently obtained, have been known as the Parrish, or Springville, murders. The facts concerning them may be stated fairly as follows:--
William R. Parrish was one of the most outspoken champions of the Twelve when the controversy with Rigdon occurred at Nauvoo after Smith's death, and he accompanied the fugitives to Salt Lake Valley. One evening, early in March, 1857, a Bishop named Johnson (husband of ten wives), with two companions, called at Parrish's house in Springville, and put to him some of the questions which the inquisitors of the day were wont to ask--if he prayed, something about his future plans, etc. It had been rumored that Parrish's devotion to the church had cooled, and that he was planning to move with his family--a wife and six children--to California; and at a meeting in Bishop Johnson's council house a letter had been read from Brigham Young directing them to ascertain the intention of certain "suspicious characters in the neighborhood,"* and if they should make a break and, being pursued, which he required, he would be sorry to hear a favorable report; but the better way is to lock the stable door before the horse is stolen.' This letter was over Brigham's signature."** This letter was the real cause of the Bishop's visit to Parrish. At a meeting about a week later, A. Durfee and G. Potter were deputed to find out when the Parrishes proposed to leave the territory. Accordingly, Durfee got employment with Parrish, and both of them gave him the idea that they sympathized with his desire to depart. One morning, about a week later, Parrish discovered that his horses had been stolen, and efforts to recover them were fruitless.
* "There had been public preaching in Springville to the effect that no Apostles would be allowed to leave; if they did, hog- holes in the fences would be stopped up with them. I heard these sermons."--Affidavit of Mrs. Parrish; appendix to "Speech of Hon. John Cradlebaugh".
** Confession of J. M. Stewart, one of the Bishop's counsellors and precinct magistrate.
Meanwhile, Parrish, unsuspicious of Potter and Durfee,* was telling them of his continued plans to escape, how constantly his house was watched, and how difficult it was for him to get out the few articles required for the trip. Finally, at Parrish's suggestion, it was arranged that he and Durfee should walk out of the village in the daytime, as the method best calculated to allay suspicion.
* Durfee's confession, appendix to Cradlebaugh's speech.
They carried out this plan, and when they got to a stream called Dry Creek, Parrish asked Durfee to go back to the house and bring his two sons, Beason and Orrin, to join him. When Durfee returned to the house, at about sunset, he found Potter there, and Potter set off at once for the meeting-place, ostensibly to carry some of the articles needed for the journey.
Potter met Parrish where he was waiting for Durfee's return, and they walked down a lane to a fence corner, where a Mormon named William Bird was lying, armed with a gun. Here occurred what might be called an illustration of "poetic justice." In the twilight, Bird mistook his victim, and fired, killing Potter. As Bird rose and stepped forward, Parrish asked if it was he who had fired the unexpected shot. For a reply Bird drew a knife, clenched with Parrish, and, as he afterward expressed it, "worked the best he could in stabbing him." He "worked" so well that, as afterward described by one of the men concerned in the plot,* the old man was cut all over, fifteen times in the back, as well as in the left side, the arms, and the hands. But Bird knew that his task was not completed, and, as soon as the murder of the elder Parrish was accomplished, taking his own and Potter's gun, he again concealed himself in the fence corner, awaiting the appearance of the Parrish boys. They soon came up in company with Durfee, and Bird fired at Beason with so good aim that he dropped dead at once. Turning the weapon on Orrin, the first cap snapped, but he tried again and put a ball through Orrin's cartridge box. The lad then ran and found refuge in the house of an uncle.
* Affidavit of J. Bartholemew before Judge Cradlebaugh.
The outcome of this crime? The arrest of ORRIN and Durfee as the murderers by a Mormon officer; a farcical hearing by a coroner's jury, with a verdict of assassins unknown; distrusted participants in the crime themselves the object of the Mormon spies and would-be assassins; the robbery of a neighbor who dared to condemn the crime; a vain appeal by Mrs. Parrish to Brigham Young, who told her he "would have stopped it had he known anything about it," and who, when she persisted in seeking another interview, had her advised to "drop it," and a failure by the widow to secure even the stolen horses. "The wife of Mr. Parrish told me," said Judge Cradlebaugh, when he charged the jury concerning this case, "that since then at times she had lived on bread and water, and still there are persons in this community riding about on those horses."
The effort to have the men concerned in this and similar crimes convicted, forms a part of the history of Judge Cradlebaugh's judicial career after the "Mormon War," but it failed. When the grand jury would not bring in indictments, he issued bench warrants for the arrest of the accused, and sent the United States marshal, sustained by a military posse, to serve the papers. It was thus that the affidavits and confessions cited were obtained. Then followed a stampede among the residents of the Springville neighborhood, as the judge explained in his subsequent speech, in Congress, the church officials and civil officers being prominent in the flight, and, when their houses were reached, they were occupied only by many wives and many children. "I am justified," he told the House of Representatives, "in charging that the Mormons are guilty, and that the Mormon church is guilty, of the crimes, of murder and robbery, as taught in their books of faith."*
* "I say as a fact that there was no escape for any one that the leaders of the church in southern Utah selected as a victim.... It was a rare thing for a man to escape from the territory with all his property until after the Pacific Railroad was built through Utah."--LEE, "Mormonism Unveiled," pp. 275, 287.
Charles Nordhoff, in a Utah letter to the New York Evening Post in May, 1871, said: "A friend said to me this afternoon, I saw a great change in Salt Lake since I was there three years ago. The place is free; the people no longer speak in whispers. Three years ago it was unsafe to speak aloud in Salt Lake City about Mormonism, and you were warned to be cautious.'"
Another of the murders under this dispensation, which Judge Cradlebaugh mentioned as "peculiarly and shockingly prominent," was that of the Aikin party, in the spring of 1857. This party, consisting of six men, started east from San Francisco in May, 1857, and, falling in with a Mormon train, joined them for protection against the Indians. "When they got to a safer neighborhood, the Californians pushed on ahead. Arriving in Kayesville, twenty-five miles north of Salt Lake City, they were at once arrested as federal spies, and their animals (they had an outfit worth in all, about $25,000) were put into the public corral. When their Mormon fellow-travellers arrived, they scouted the idea that the men even knew of an impending "war," and the party were told that they would be sent out of the territory. But before they started, a council, held at the call of a Bishop in Salt Lake City, decided on their death.
Four of the party were attacked in camp by their escort while asleep; two were killed at once, and two who escaped temporarily were shot while, as they supposed, being escorted back to Salt Lake City. The two others were attacked by O. P. Rockwell and some associates near the city; one was killed outright, and the other escaped, wounded, and was shot the next day while under the escort of "Bill" Hickman, and, according to the latter, by Young's order. *
* Brigham's "Destroying Angel," p. 128.
A story of the escape of one man from the valley, notwithstanding elaborate plans to prevent his doing so, has been preserved, not in the testimony of repentant participants in his persecution, but in his own words.*
* Leavenworth, Kansas, letter to New York Times, published May 1, 1858.
Frederick Loba was a prosperous resident of Lausanne, Switzerland, where for some years he had been introducing a new principle in gas manufacture, when, in 1853, some friends called his attention to the Mormons' professions and promises. Loba was induced to believe that all mankind who did not gather in Great Salt Lake Valley would be given over to destruction, and that, not only would his soul be saved by moving there, but that his business opportunities would be greatly advanced. Accordingly he gave up the direction of the gas works at Lausanne, and reached St. Louis in December, 1853, with about $8000 worth of property. There he was made temporary president of a Mormon church, and there he got his first bad impression of the Mormon brotherhood. On the way to Utah his wife died of cholera, leaving six children, from six to twelve years old. Welcomed as all men with property were, he was made Professor of Chemistry in the University, and soon learned many of the church secrets. "These," to quote his own words, "opened my eyes at once, and I saw at a glance the terrible position in which I was placed. I now found myself in the midst of a wicked and degraded people, shut up in the midst of the mountains, with a large family, and deprived of all resources with which to extricate myself. The conviction had been forced upon my mind that Brigham himself was at the bottom of all the clandestine assassinations, plundering of trains, and robbing of mails." The manner, too, in which polygamy was practised aroused his intense disgust.
He married as his second wife an English woman, and his family relations were pleasant; but the church officers were distrustful of him. He was again and again urged to marry more wives, being assured that with less than three he could not rise to a high place in the church. "This neglect on my part," he explained, "and certain remarks that I made with respect to Brigham's friends, determined the prophet to order my private execution, as I am able to prove by honest and competent witnesses." Loba adopted every precaution for his own safety, night and day. Then came the news of the Parrish murders, and there was so much alarm among the people that there was talk of the departure of a great many of the dissatisfied. To check this, when the plain threats made in the Tabernacle did not avail, Young had a band of four hundred organized under the name of "Wolf Hunters" (borrowed from their old Hancock County neighbors), whose duty it was to see that "the wolves" did not stray abroad.
Loba now communicated his fears to his wife, and found that she also realized the danger of their position, and was ready to advise the risk of flight. The plan, as finally decided on, was that they two should start alone on April l, leaving the children in care of the wife's mother and brother, the latter a recent comer not yet initiated in the church mysteries.
At ten o'clock on the appointed night Loba and his wife--the latter dressed in men's clothes--stole out of their house. Their outfit consisted of one blanket, twelve pounds of crackers, a little tea and sugar, a double-barrelled gun, a sword, and a compass. They were without horses, and their route compelled them to travel the main road for twenty-five miles before they reached the mountains, amid which they hoped to baffle pursuit. They were fortunate enough to gain the mountains without detention. There they laid their course, not with a view to taking the easiest or most direct route, but one so far up the mountain sides that pursuit by horsemen would be impossible. This entailed great suffering. The nights were so cold that sometimes they feared to sleep. Add to this the necessity of wading through creeks in ice- cold water, and it is easy to understand that Loba had difficulty to prevent his companion from yielding to despair.
Their objective point was Greene River (170 miles from Salt Lake City by road, but probably almost 300 by the route taken), where they expected to find Indians on whose mercy they would throw themselves. Two days before that river was reached they ate the last of their food, and they kept from freezing at night by getting some sage wood from underneath the snow, and using Loba's pocket journal for kindling. Mrs. Loba had to be carried the whole of the last six miles, but this effort brought them to a camp of Snake Indians, among whom were some Canadian traders, and there they received a kindly welcome. News of their escape reached Salt Lake City, and Surveyor General Burr sent them the necessary supplies and a guide to conduct them to Fort Laramie, where, a month later, all the rest of the family joined them, in good health, but entirely destitute.
They then learned that, as soon as their flight was discovered, the church authorities sent out horsemen in every direction to intercept them, but their route over the mountains proved their preservation*
* Referring to the frequent Mormon declarations that there were fewer deeds of violence in Utah than in other pioneer settlements of equal population, the Salt Lake Tribune of January 25, 1876, said: "It is estimated that no less than 600 murders have been committed by the Mormons, in nearly every case at the instigation of their priestly leaders, during the occupation of the territory. Giving a mean average of 50,000 persons professing that faith in Utah, we have a murder committed every year to every 2500 of population. The same ratio of crime extended to the population of the United States would give 16,000 murders every year."
The Messenger, the organ of the Reorganized Church in Salt Lake City, said in November, 1875: "While laying the waste pipes in front of the residence of Brigham Young recently the skeleton of a man--a white man--was dug up. A similar discovery was made last winter in digging a cellar in this city. What can have been the necessity of these secret burials, without coffins, in such places?"
As early as 1853 intimations of the doctrine that an offending member might be put out of the way were given from the Tabernacle pulpit. Orson Hyde, on April 9 of that year, spoke, in the form of a parable, of the fate of a wolf that a shepherd discovered in his flock of sheep, saying that, if let alone, he would go off and tell the other wolves, and they would come in; "whereas, if the first should meet with his just deserts, he could not go back and tell the rest of his hungry tribe to come and feast themselves on the flock. If you say the priesthood, or authorities of the church here, are the shepherd, and the church is the flock, you can make your own application of this figure."
In September, 1856, there was a notable service in the bowery in Salt Lake City at which several addresses were made. Heber C. Kimball urged repentance, and told the people that Brigham Young's word was "the word of God to this people." Then Jedediah M. Grant first gave open utterance to a doctrine that has given the Saints, in late years, much trouble to explain, and the carrying out of which in Brigham Young's days has required many a Mormon denial. This is, what has been called in Utah the doctrine of "blood atonement," and what in reality was the doctrine of human sacrifice.
Grant declared that some persons who had received the priesthood committed adultery and other abominations, "get drunk, and wallow in the mire and filth." "I say," he continued, "there are men and women that I would advise to go to the President immediately, and ask him to appoint a committee to attend to their case; and then let a place be selected, and let that committee shed their blood. We have those amongst us that are full of all manner of abominations; those who need to have their blood shed, for water will not do; their sins are too deep for that."* He explained that he was only preaching the doctrine of St. Paul, and continued: "I would ask how many covenant breakers there are in this city and in this kingdom. I believe that there are a great many; and if they are covenant breakers, we need a place designated where we can shed their blood.... If any of you ask, Do I mean you, I answer yes. If any woman asks, Do I mean her, I answer yes.... We have been trying long enough with these people, and I go in for letting the sword of the Almighty be unsheathed, not only in word, but in deed."**
* Elder C. W. Penrose made an explanation of the view taken by the church at that time, in an address in Salt Lake City on October 12, 1884, that was published in a pamphlet entitled "Blood Atonement as taught by Leading Elders." This was deemed necessary to meet the criticisms of this doctrine. He pleaded misrepresentation of the Saints' position, and defined it as resting on Christ's atonement, and on the belief that that atonement would suffice only for those who have fellowship with Him. He quoted St. Paul as authority for the necessity of blood shedding (Hebrews ix. 22), and Matthew xii. 31, 32, and Hebrews x. 26, to show that there are sins, like blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which will not be forgiven through the shedding of Christ's blood. He also quoted 1 John v. 16 as showing that the apostle and Brigham Young were in agreement concerning "sins unto death," just as Young and the apostle agreed about delivering men unto Satan that their spirits might be saved through the destruction of their flesh (1 Corinthians v. 5). Having justified the teaching to his satisfaction, he proceeded to challenge proof that any one had ever paid the penalty, coupling with this a denial of the existence of Danites.
Elder Hyde, in his "Mormonism," says (p. 179): "There are several men now living in Utah whose lives are forfeited by Mormon law, but spared for a little time by Mormon policy. They are certain to be killed, and they know it. They are only allowed to live while they add weight and influence to Mormonism, and, although abundant opportunities are given them for escape, they prefer to remain. So strongly are they infatuated with their religion that they think their salvation depends on their continued obedience, and their blood being shed by the servants of God.' Adultery is punished by death, and it is taught, unless the adulterer's blood be shed, he can have no remission for this sin. Believing this firmly, there are men who have confessed this crime to Brigham, and asked him to have them killed. Their superstitious fears make life a burden to them, and they would commit suicide were not that also a crime."
** Journal of Discourses, Vol. IV, pp. 49, 50.
Brigham Young, who followed Grant, said that he would explain how judgment would be "laid to the line." "There are sins," he explained, "that men commit, for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world nor in that which is to come; and, if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven for their sins...I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it a strong doctrine; but it is to save them, not to destroy them."
That these were not the mere expressions of a sudden impulse is shown by the fact that Young expounded this doctrine at even greater length a year later. Explaining what Christ meant by loving our neighbors as ourselves, he said: "Will you love your brothers and sisters likewise when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood? That is what Jesus Christ meant.... I have seen scores and hundreds of people for whom there would have been a chance (in the last resurrection there will be) if their lives had been taken, and their blood spilled on the ground as a smoking incense to the Almighty, but who are now angels to the devil."*
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. IV, pp. 219, 220.
Stenhouse relates, as one of the "few notable cases that have properly illustrated the blood atonement doctrine," that one of the wives of an elder who was sent on a mission broke her marriage vows during his absence. On his return, during the height of the "Reformation," she was told that "she could not reach the circle of the gods and goddesses unless her blood was shed," and she consented to accept the punishment. Seating herself, therefore, on her husband's knee, she gave him a last kiss, and he then drew a knife across her throat. "That kind and loving husband still lives near Salt Lake City (1874), and preaches occasionally with great zeal."*
* "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 470.
John D. Lee, who says that this doctrine was "justified by all the people," gives full particulars of another instance. Among the Danish converts in Utah was Rosmos Anderson, whose wife had been a widow with a grown daughter. Anderson desired to marry his step-daughter also, and she was quite willing; but a member of the Bishop's council wanted the girl for his wife, and he was influential enough to prevent Anderson from getting the necessary consent from the head of the church. Knowing the professed horror of the church toward the crime of adultery, Anderson and the young woman, at one of the meetings during the "Reformation," confessed their guilt of that crime, thinking that in this way they would secure permission to marry. But, while they were admitted to rebaptism on their confession, the coveted permit was not issued and they were notified that to offend would be to incur death. Such a charge was very soon laid against Anderson (not against the girl), and the same council, without hearing him, decided that he must die. Anderson was so firm in the Mormon faith that he made no remonstrance, simply asking half a day for preparation. His wife provided clean clothes for the sacrifice, and his executioners dug his grave. At midnight they called for him, and, taking him to the place, allowed him to kneel by the grave and pray. Then they cut his throat, "and held him so that his blood ran into the grave." His wife, obeying instructions, announced that he had gone to California.*
* "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 282.
As an illustration of the opportunity which these times gave a polygamous priesthood to indulge their tastes, may be told the story of "the affair at San Pete." Bishop Warren Snow of Manti, San Pete County, although the husband of several wives, desired to add to his list a good-looking young woman in that town When he proposed to her, she declined the honor, informing him that she was engaged to a younger man. The Bishop argued with her on the ground of her duty, offering to have her lover sent on a mission, but in vain. When even the girl's parents failed to gain her consent, Snow directed the local church authorities to command the young man to give her up. Finding him equally obstinate, he was one evening summoned to attend a meeting where only trusted members were present. Suddenly the lights were put out, he was beaten and tied to a bench, and Bishop Snow himself castrated him with a bowie knife. In this condition he was left to crawl to some haystacks, where he lay until discovered "The young man regained his health," says Lee, "but has been an idiot or quiet lunatic ever since, and is well known by hundreds of Mormons or Gentiles in Utah."* And the Bishop married the girl. Lee gives Young credit for being very "mad" when he learned of this incident, but the Bishop was not even deposed.**
* Ibid., p. 285.
** Stenhouse quotes the following as showing that the San Pete outrage was scarcely concealed by the Mormon authorities: "I was at a Sunday meeting, in the spring of 1857, in Provo, when the news of the San Pete incident was referred to by the presiding Bishop, Blackburn. Some men in Provo had rebelled against authority in some trivial matter, and Blackburn shouted in his Sunday meeting--a mixed congregation of all ages and both sexes: I want the people of Provo to understand that the boys in Provo can use the knife as well as the boys in San Pete. Boys, get your knives ready.'" "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 302.
In March, 1851, the two houses of the legislature of Deseret, sitting together, adopted resolutions "cheerfully and cordially" accepting the law providing a territorial government for Utah, and tendering Union Square in Salt Lake City as a site for the government buildings. The first territorial election was held on August 4, and the legislative assembly then elected held its first meeting on September 22. An act was at once passed continuing in force the laws passed by the legislature of Deseret (an unauthorized body) not in conflict with the territorial law, and locating the capital in the Pauvan Valley, where the town was afterward named Fillmore* and the county Millard, in honor of the President.
* Only one session of the legislature was held at Fillmore (December, 1855). The lawmakers afterward met there, but only to adjourn to Salt Lake City.
The federal law, establishing the territory, provided that the governor, secretary, chief justice and two associate justices of the Supreme Court, the attorney general, or state's attorney, and marshal should be appointed by the President of the United States. President Fillmore on September 22, 1850, filled these places as follows: governor, Brigham Young; secretary, B. D. Harris of Vermont; chief justice, Joseph Buffington of Pennsylvania; associate justices, Perry E. Brocchus and Zerubbabel Snow; attorney general, Seth M. Blair of Utah; marshal, J. L. Heywood of Utah, Young, Snow, Blair, and Heywood being Mormons. L. G. Brandebury was later appointed chief justice, Mr. Buffington declining that office.
The selection of Brigham Young as governor made him, in addition to his church offices, ex-officio commander-in-chief of the militia and superintendent of Indian affairs, the latter giving him a salary of $1000 a year in addition to his salary of $1500 as governor. Had the character of the Mormon church government been understood by President Fillmore, it does not seem possible that he would, by Young's appointment, have so completely united the civil and religious authority of the territory in one man; or, if he had had any comprehension of Young's personal characteristics, it is fair to conclude that the appointment would not have been made.
The voice which the President listened to in the matter was that of that adroit Mormon agent, Colonel Thomas L. Kane. Kane's part in the business came out after these appointments were announced, and after the Buffalo (New York) Courier had printed a communication attacking Young's character on the ground of his record both in Illinois and Utah. President Fillmore sent these charges to Kane (on July 4, 1851) with a letter in which he said, "You will recollect that I relied much upon you for the moral character of Mr. Young," and asking him to "truly state whether these charges against the moral character of Governor Young are true." Kane sent two letters in reply, dated July 11. In a short open one he said: "I reiterate without reserve the statement of his excellent capacity, energy, and integrity, which I made you prior to the appointment. I am willing to say that I VOLUNTEERED to communicate to you the facts by which I was convinced of his patriotism and devotion to the Union. I made no qualification when I assured you of his irreproachable moral character, because I was able to speak of this from my own intimate personal knowledge."
The second letter, marked "personal," went into these matters much more in detail. It declared that the tax levied by Young on non-Mormons who sold goods in Salt Lake City was a liquor tax, creditable to Mormon temperance principles. Had the President consulted the report of the debate on Babbitt's admission as a Delegate, he would have discovered that this was falsehood number one. The charges against Young while in Illinois, including counterfeiting, Kane swept aside as "a mere rehash of old libels," and he cited the Battalion as an illustration of Mormon patriotism. The extent to which he could go in falsifying in Young's behalf is illustrated, however, most pointedly in what he had to say regarding the charge of polygamy: "The remaining charge connects itself with that unmixed outrage, the spiritual wife story; which was fastened on the Mormons by a poor ribald scamp whom, though the sole surviving brother and representative of their Jo. Smith, they were literally forced to excommunicate for licentiousness, and who therefore revenged himself by editing confessions and disclosures of savor to please the public that peruses novels in yellow paper covers."* In regard to William Smith, the fact was that he opposed polygamy both before and after his expulsion from the church. Kane's stay among the Mormons on the Missouri must have acquainted him with the practically open practice of polygamy at that time. His entire correspondence with Fillmore stamps him as a man whose word could be accepted on no subject. It would have been well if President Buchanan had availed himself of the existence of these letters. Fillmore stated in later years that at that time neither he nor the Senate knew that polygamy was an accepted Mormon doctrine.
* For correspondence in full, see Millennial Star, Vol. XIII, pp. 341-344.
Young took the oath of office as governor in February, 1851. The non-Mormon federal officers arrived in June and July following, and with them came Babbitt, bringing $20,000 which had been appropriated by Congress for a state-house, and J. M. Bernhisel, the first territorial Delegate to Congress, with a library purchased by him in the East for which Congress had provided. The arrival of the Gentile officers gave a speedy opportunity to test the temper of the church in regard to any interference with, or even discussion of, their "peculiar" institutions or Young's authority.
Their first welcome was cordial, with balls and dinners at the Bath House at the Hot Springs at which, for their special benefit, says a local historian, was served "champagne wine from the grocery," with home-brewed porter and ale for the rest. When Judge Brocchus reached Salt Lake City, his two non-Mormon associates had been there long enough to form an opinion of the Mormon population and of the aims of the leading church officers. They soon concluded that "no man else could govern them against Brigham Young's influence, without a military force,"* and they heard many expressions, public and private, indicating the contempt in which the federal government was held. The anniversary of the arrival of the pioneers, July 24, was always celebrated with much ceremony, and that year the principal addresses were made by "General" D. H. Wells and Brigham Young. Some of the new officers occupied seats on the platform. Wells attacked the government for "requiring" the Battalion to enlist. Young paid especial attention to President Taylor, who had recently died, and whose course toward the Mormons did not please them, closing this part of his remarks with the declaration, "but Zachary Taylor is dead and in hell, and I am glad of it," adding, "and I prophesy in the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the priesthood that's upon me, that any President of the United States who lifts his finger against this people, shall die an untimely death, and go to hell."
* Report of the three officers to President Fillmore, Ex. Doc. No. 25, 1st Session, 32d Congress.
Judge Brocchus had been commissioned by the Washington Monument Association to ask the people of the territory for a block of stone for that structure, and, on signifying a desire to make known his commission, he was invited to do so at the General Conference to be held on September 7 and 8. The judge thought that, with the life of Washington as a text, he could read these people a lesson on their duty toward the government, and could correct some of the impressions under which they rested. The idea itself only showed how little he understood anything pertaining to Mormonism.
There was no newspaper in Salt Lake City in that time, and for a report of the judge's address and of Brigham Young's reply, we must rely on the report of the three federal officers to President Fillmore, on a letter from Judge Brocchus printed in the East, and on three letters on the subject addressed to the New York Herald (one of which that journal printed, and all of which the author published in a pamphlet entitled "The Truth for the Mormons",) by J. M. Grant, first mayor of Salt Lake City, major general of the Legion, and Speaker of the house in the Deseret legislature.
Judge Brocchus spoke for two hours. He began with expressions of sympathy for the sufferings of the Mormons in Missouri and Illinois, and then referred to the unfriendliness of the people toward the federal government, pointing out what he considered its injustice, and alluding pointedly to Brigham Young's remarks about President Taylor. He defended the President's memory, and told his audience that, "if they could not offer a block of marble for the Washington Monument in a feeling of full fellowship with the people of the United States, as brethren and fellow citizens, they had better not offer it at all, but leave it unquarried in the bosom of its native mountain." The officers' report to President Fillmore says that the address "was entirely free from any allusions, even the most remote, to the peculiar religion of the community, or to any of their domestic or social customs." Even if the Mormons had so construed it, the rebuke of their lack of patriotism would have aroused their resentment, and Bernhisel, in a letter to President Fillmore, characterized it as "a wanton insult."
But the judge did make, according to other reports, what was construed as an uncomplimentary reference to polygamy, and this stirred the church into a tumult of anger and indignation. According to Mormon accounts,* the judge, addressing the ladies, said: "I have a commission from the Washington Monument Association, to ask of you a block of marble, as a test of your citizenship and loyalty to the government of the United States. But in order to do it acceptably you must become virtuous, and teach your daughters to become virtuous, or your offering had better remain in the bosom of your native mountains."
* The report of what follows, including Young's address, is taken from Grant's pamphlet...
Mild as this language may seem, no Mormon audience, since the marrying of more wives than one had been sanctioned by the church, had ever listened to anything like it. To permit even this interference with their "religious belief" was entirely foreign to Young's purpose, and he took the floor in a towering rage to reply. "Are you a judge," he asked, "and can't even talk like a lawyer or a politician?" George Washington was first in war, but he was first in peace, too, and Young could handle a sword as well as Washington. "But you [addressing the judge] standing there, white and shaking now at the howls which you have stirred up yourself--you are a coward.... Old General Taylor, what was he?* A mere soldier with regular army buttons on; no better to go at the head of brave troops than a dozen I could pick out between here and Laramie." He concluded thus:--
* In a discourse on June 19, 1853, Young said that he never heard of his alleged expression about General Taylor until Judge Brocchus made use of it, but he added: "When he made the statement there, I surely bore testimony to the truth of it. But until then I do not know that it ever came into my mind whether Taylor was in hell or not, any more than it did that any other wicked man was there," etc.--Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 185.
"What you have been afraid to intimate about our morals I will not stoop to notice, except to make my particular personal request to every brother and husband present not to give you back what such impudence deserves. You talk of things you have on hearsay since your coming among us. I'll talk of hearsay then-- the hearsay that you are discontented, and will go home, because we cannot make it worth your while to stay. What it would satisfy you to get out of us I think it would be hard to tell; but I am sure that it is more than you'll get. If you or any one else is such a baby-calf, we must sugar your soap to coax you to wash yourself of Saturday nights. Go home to your mammy straight away, and the sooner the better."
This was the language addressed by the governor of the territory and the head of the church, to one of the Supreme Court judges appointed by the President of the United States!
Young alluded to his reference to the judge's personal safety in a discourse on June 19, 1853, in which, speaking of the judge's remarks, he said: "They [the Mormons] bore the insult like saints of God. It is true, as it was said in the report of these affairs, if I had crooked my little finger, he would have been used up, but I did not bend it. If I had, the sisters alone felt indignant enough to have chopped him in pieces." A little later, in the same discourse, he added: "Every man that comes to impose on this people, no matter by whom they are sent, or who they are that are sent, lay the axe at the root of the tree to kill themselves. I will do as I said I would last conference. Apostates, or men who never made any profession of religion, had better be careful how they come here, lest I should bend my little finger."*
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. I, p. 187.
If the records of the Mormon church had included acts as well as words, how many times would we find that Young's little finger was bent to a purpose?
Bold as he was, Young seems to have felt that he had gone too far in his abuse of Judge Brocchus, and on September 19 he addressed a note to him, inviting him to attend a public meeting in the bowery the next Sunday morning, "to explain, satisfy, or apologize to the satisfaction of the ladies who heard your address on the 8th," a postscript assuring the judge that "no gentleman will be permitted to make any reply." The judge in polite terms declined this offer, saying that he had been, at the proper time, denied a chance to explain, "at the peril of having my hair pulled or my throat cut." He added that his speech was deliberately prepared, that his sole design was "to vindicate the government of the United States from those feelings of prejudice and that spirit of defection which seemed to pervade the public sentiment," and that he had had no intention to offer insult or disrespect to his audience. This called out, the next day, a very long reply from Young, of which the following is a paragraph: "With a war of words on party politics, factions, religious schisms, current controversy of creeds, policy of clans or state clipper cliques, I have nothing to do; but when the eternal principles of truth are falsified, and light is turned into darkness by mystification of language or a false delineation of facts, so that the just indignation of the true, virtuous, upright citizens of the commonwealth is aroused into vigilance for the dear-bought liberties of themselves and fathers, and that spirit of intolerance and persecution which has driven this people time and time again from their peaceful homes, manifests itself in the flippancy of rhetoric for female insult and desecration, it is time that I forbear to hold my peace, lest the thundering anathemas of nations, born and unborn, should rest upon my head, when the marrow of my bones shall be ill prepared to sustain the threatened blow."*
* For correspondence in full, see Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City," pp. 86--91.
Judge Brocchus wrote to a friend in the East, on September 20: "How it will end, I do not know. I have just learned that I have been denounced, together with the government and officers, in the bowery again to-day by Governor Young. I hope I shall get off safely. God only knows. I am in the power of a desperate and murderous sect."
The non-Mormon federal officers now announced their determination to abandon their places and return to the East. Young foresaw that so radical a course would give his conduct a wide advertisement, and attract to him an unpleasant notoriety. He, therefore, called on the offended judges personally, and urged them to remain.* Being assured that they would not reconsider their determination, and that Secretary Harris would take with him the $24,000 appropriated for the pay and mileage of the territorial legislature, Young, on September 18, issued a proclamation declaring the result of the election of August 4, which he had neglected to do, and convening the legislature in session on September 22. "So solicitous was the governor that the secretary and other non-Mormon officers should be kept in ignorance of this step," says the report of the latter to President Fillmore, "that on the 19th, two days after the date of a personal notice sent to members, he most positively and emphatically denied, as communicated to the secretary, that any such notice had been issued."
* Young to the President, House Doc. No. 25, 1st Session, 32d Congress.
As soon as the legislature met, it passed resolutions directing the United States marshal to take possession of all papers and property (including money) in the hands of Secretary Harris, and to arrest him and lock him up if he offered any resistance. On receipt of a copy of this resolution, Secretary Harris sent a reply, giving several reasons for refusing to hand over the money appropriated for the legislature, among them the failure of the governor to have a census taken before the election, as provided by the territorial act, the defective character of the governor's proclamation ordering the election, allowing aliens to vote, and the governor's failure to declare the result of the election, his delayed proclamation being pronounced "worthless for all legal purposes."
On September 28 the three non-Mormon officers took their departure, carrying with them to Washington the disputed money, which was turned over to the proper officer.*
* Tullidge, in his "History of Salt Lake City," says: "Under the censure of the great statesman, Daniel Webster, and with ex- Vice President Dallas and Colonel Kane using their potent influence against them, and also Stephen A. Douglas, Brandebury, Brocchus, and Harris were forced to retire." As these officers left the territory of their own accord, and contrary to Brigham Young's urgent protest, this statement only furnishes another instance of the Mormon plan to attack the reputation of any one whom they could not control. The three officers were criticized by some Eastern newspapers for leaving their post through fear of bodily injury, but Congress voted to pay their salaries.
All the correspondence concerning the failure of this first attempt to establish non-Mormon federal officers in Utah was given to Congress in a message from President Fillmore, dated January 9, 1852. The returned officers made a report which set forth the autocratic attitude of the Mormon church, the open practice of polygamy,* and the non-enforcement of the laws, not even murderers being punished. Of one of the allegations of murder set forth,--that a man from Ithaca, New York, named James Munroe, was murdered on his way to Salt Lake City by a member of the church, his body brought to the city and buried without an inquest, the murderer walking the streets undisturbed, H. H. Bancroft says, "There is no proof of this statement."** On the contrary, Mayor Grant in his "Truth for the Mormons" acknowledges it, and gives the details of the murder, justifying it on the ground of provocation, alleging that while Egan, the murderer, was absent in California, Munroe, "from his youth up a member of the church, Egan's friend too, therefore a traitor," seduced Egan's wife.
* J. D. Grant, following the example of Colonel Kane, had the affrontery to say of the charge of polygamy, in one of his letters to the New York Herald: "I pronounce it false.... Suppose I should admit it at once? Whose business is it? Does the constitution forbid it?"
** "History of Utah," p. 460, note.
Young, in a statement to the President, defended his acts and the acts of the territorial legislature, and attacked the character and motives of the federal officers. The legislature soon after petitioned President Fillmore to fill the vacancies by appointing men "who are, indeed, residents amongst us."
The next federal officers for Utah appointed by the President (in August, 1852) were Lazarus H. Reid of New York to be chief justice, Leonidas Shaver, associate justice, and B. G. Ferris, secretary. Neither of these officers incurred the Mormon wrath. Both of the judges died while in office, and the next chief justice was John F. Kinney, who had occupied a seat on the Iowa Supreme Bench, with W. W. Drummond of Illinois, and George P. Stiles, one of Joseph Smith's counsel at the time of the prophet's death, as associates. A. W. Babbitt received the appointment of secretary of the territory.*
* Some years later Babbitt was killed. Mrs. Waite, in "The Mormon Prophet" (p. 34) says: "In the summer of 1862 Brigham was referring to this affair in a tea-table conversation at which judge Waite and the writer of this were present. After making some remarks to impress upon the minds of those present the necessity of maintaining friendly relations between the federal officers and the authorities of the church, he used language substantially as follows: There is no need of any difficulty, and there need be none if the officers do their duty and mind their affairs. If they do not, if they undertake to interfere with affairs that do not concern them, I will not be far off. There was Almon W. Babbitt. He undertook to quarrel with me, but soon afterward was killed by Indians."
The territorial legislature had continued to meet from time to time, Young having a seat of honor in front of the Speaker at each opening joint session, and presenting his message. The most important measure passed was an election law which practically gave the church authorities control of the ballot. It provided that each voter must hand his ballot, folded, to the judge of election, who must deposit it after numbering it, and after the clerk had recorded the name and number. This, of course, gave the church officers knowledge concerning the candidate for whom each man voted. Its purpose needs no explanation.
In August, 1854, a force of some three hundred soldiers, under command of Lieutenant Colonel E. J. Steptoe of the United States army, on their way to the Pacific coast, arrived in Salt Lake City and passed the succeeding winter there. Young's term as governor was about to expire, and the appointment of his successor rested with President Pierce. Public opinion in the East had become more outspoken against the Mormons since the resignation of the first federal officers sent to the territory, the "revelation" concerning polygamy having been publicly avowed meanwhile, and there was an expressed feeling that a non- Mormon should be governor. Accordingly, President Pierce, in December, 1854, offered the governorship to Lieutenant Colonel Steptoe.
Brigham Young, just before and after this period, openly declared that he would not surrender the actual government of the territory to any man. In a discourse in the Tabernacle, on June 19, 1853, in which he reviewed the events of 1851, he said, "We have got a territorial government, and I am and will be governor, and no power can hinder it, until the Lord Almighty says, Brigham, you need not be governor any longer.'"* In a defiant discourse in the Tabernacle, on February 18, 1855, Young again stated his position on this subject: "For a man to come here [as governor] and infringe upon my individual rights and privileges, and upon those of my brethren, will never meet my sanction, and I will scourge such a one until he leaves. I am after him." Defining his position further, and the independence of his people, he said: "Come on with your knives, your swords, and your faggots of fire, and destroy the whole of us rather than we will forsake our religion. Whether the doctrine of plurality of wives is true or false is none of your business. We have as good a right to adopt tenets in our religion as the Church of England, or the Methodists, or the Baptists, or any other denomination have to theirs."**
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 187.
** Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 187-188.
Having thus defied the federal appointing power, the nomination of Colonel Steptoe as Young's successor might have been expected to cause an outbreak; but the Mormon leaders were always diplomatic--at least, when Young did not lose his temper. The outcome of this appointment was its declination by Steptoe, a petition to President Pierce for Young's reappointment signed by Steptoe himself and all the federal officers in the territory, and the granting of the request of these petitioners.
Mrs. C. B. Waite, wife of Associate Justice C. B. Waite, one of Lincoln's appointees, gives a circumstantial account of the manner in which Colonel Steptoe was influenced to decline the nomination and sign the petition in favor of Young.* Two women, whose beauty then attracted the attention of Salt Lake City society, were a relative by marriage of Brigham Young and an actress in the church theatre. The federal army officers were favored with a good deal of their society. When Steptoe's appointment as governor was announced, Young called these women to his assistance. In conformity with the plan then suggested, Young one evening suddenly demanded admission to Colonel Steptoe's office, which was granted after considerable delay. Passing into the back room, he found the two women there, dressed in men's clothes and with their faces concealed by their hats. He sent the women home with a rebuke, and then described to Steptoe the danger he was in if the women's friends learned of the incident, and the disgrace which would follow its exposure. Steptoe's declination of the nomination and his recommendation of Young soon followed.
President Pierce's selection of judicial officers for Utah was not made with proper care, nor with due regard to the dignity of the places to be filled. Chief Justice Kinney took with him to Utah a large stock of goods which he sold at retail after his arrival there, and he also kept a boarding-house in Salt Lake City. With his "trade" dependent on Mormon customers, he had every object in cultivating their popularity. Known as a "Jack- Mormon" in Iowa, Mrs. Waite declared that his uniform course, to the time about which she wrote, had been "to aid and abet Brigham Young in his ambitious schemes," and that he was then "an open apologist and advocate of polygamy." Judge Drummond's course in Utah was in many respects scandalous. A former member of the bench in Illinois writes to me: "I remember that when Drummond's appointment was announced there was considerable comment as to his lack of fitness for the place, and, after the troubles between him and the Mormon leaders got aired through the press, members of the bar from his part of the state said they did not blame the Mormons--that it was an imposition upon them to have sent him out there as a judge. I never heard his moral character discussed." If the Mormon leaders had shown any respect for the government at Washington, or for the reputable men appointed to territorial offices, more attention might be paid to their hostility manifested to certain individuals.
* "The Mormon Prophet," p. 36, confirmed by Beadle's "Life in Utah," p. 171.
A few of the leading questions at issue under the new territorial officers will illustrate the nature of the government with which they had to deal. The territorial legislature had passed acts defining the powers and duties of the territorial courts. These acts provided that the district courts should have original jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, wherever not otherwise provided by law. Chapter 64 (approved January 14, 1864) provided as follows: "All questions of law, the meaning of writings other than law, and the admissibility of testimony shall be decided by the court; and no laws or parts of laws shall be read, argued, cited, or adopted in any courts, during any trial, except those enacted by the governor and legislative assembly of this territory, and those passed by the Congress of the United States, WHEN APPLICABLE; and no report, decision, or doings of any court shall be read, argued, cited, or adopted as precedent in any other trial." This obliterated at a stroke the whole body of the English common law. Another act provided that, by consent of the court and the parties, any person could be selected to act as judge in a particular case. As the district court judges were federal appointees, a judge of probate was provided for each county, to be elected by joint ballot of the legislature. These probate courts, besides the authority legitimately belonging to such tribunals, were given "power to exercise original jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, as well in chancery as at common law." Thus there were in the territory two kinds of courts, to one of which alone a non-Mormon could look for justice, and to the other of which every Mormon would appeal when he was not prevented.
The act of Congress organizing the territory provided for the appointment of a marshal, approved by the President; the territorial legislature on March 3, 1852, provided for another marshal to be elected by joint ballot, and for an attorney general. A nonMormon had succeeded the original Mormon who was appointed as federal marshal, and he took the ground that he should have charge of all business pertaining to the marshal's office in the United States courts. Judge Stiles having issued writs to the federal marshal, the latter was not able to serve them, and the demand was openly made that only territorial law should be enforced in Utah. When the question of jurisdiction came before the judge, three Mormon lawyers appeared in behalf of the Mormon claim, and one of them, James Ferguson, openly told the judge that, if he decided against him, they "would take him from the bench d--d quick." Judge Stiles adjourned his court, and applied to Governor Young for assistance; but got only the reply that "the boys had got their spunk up, and he would not interfere," and that, if Judge Stiles could not enforce the United States laws, the sooner he adjourned court the better.* All the records and papers of the United States court were kept in Judge Stiles's office. In his absence, Ferguson led a crowd to the office, seized and deposited in a safe belonging to Young the court papers, and, piling up the personal books and papers of the judge in an outhouse, set fire to them. The judge, supposing that the court papers were included in the bonfire, innocently made that statement in an affidavit submitted on his return to Washington in 1857.
* This account is given in Mrs. Waite's "The Mormon Prophet." Tullidge omits the incident in his "History of Salt Lake City."
Judge Drummond, reversing the policy of Chief Justice Kinney and Judge Shaver, announced, before the opening of the first session of his court, that he should ignore all proceedings of the territorial probate courts except such as pertained to legitimate probate business. This position was at once recognized as a challenge of the entire Mormon judicial system,* and steps were promptly taken to overthrow it. There are somewhat conflicting accounts of the method adopted. Mrs. Waite, in her "Mormon Prophet," Hickman, in his confessions, and Remy, in his "Journey," have all described it with variations. All agree that a quarrel was brought about between the judge and a Jew, which led to the arrest of both of them. "During the prosecution of the case," says Mrs. Waite, "the judge gave some sort of a stipulation that he would not interfere any further with the probate courts."
* A member of the legislature wrote to his brother in England, of Drummond: He has brass to declare in open court that the Utah laws are founded in ignorance, and has attempted to set some of the most important ones aside,... and he will be able to appreciate the merits of a returned compliment some day."
* Tullidge, "History of Salt Lake City," p. 412.
Judge Stiles left the territory in the spring of 1857, and gave the government an account of his treatment in the form of an affidavit when he reached Washington. Judge Drummond held court a short time for Judge Stiles in Carson County (now Nevada)* in the spring of 1857, and then returned to the East by way of California, not concealing his opinion of Mormon rule on the way, and giving the government a statement of the case in a letter resigning his judgeship.
* The settlement of what is now Nevada was begun by both Mormons and non-Mormons in 1854, and, the latter being in the majority, the Utah legislature organized the entire western part of the territory as one county, called Carson, and Governor Young appointed Orson Hyde its probate judge. Many persons coming in after the settlement of California, as miners, farmers, or stock-raisers, the Mormons saw their majority in danger, and ordered the non-Mormons to leave. Both sides took up arms, and they camped in sight of each other for two weeks. The Mormons, learning that their opponents were to receive reenforcements from California, agreed on equal rights for all in that part of the territory; but when the legislature learned of this, it repealed the county act, recalled the judge, and left the district without any legal protection whatever. Thus matters remained until late in 1858, when a probate judge was quietly appointed for Carson Valley. After this an election was held, but although the non-Mormons won at the polls, the officers elected refused to qualify and enforce Mormon statutes.--Letter of Delegate-elect J. M. Crane of Nevada, "The Mormon Prophet," pp. 4l-45.
After the departure of the non-Mormon federal judges from Utah, the only non-Mormon officers left there were those belonging to the office of the surveyor general, and two Indian agents. Toward these officers the Mormons were as hostile as they had been toward the judges, and the latest information that the government received about the disposition and intentions of the Mormons came from them.
The Mormon view of their title to the land in Salt Lake Valley appeared in Young's declaration on his first Sunday there, that it was theirs and would be divided by the officers of the church.* Tullidge, explaining this view in his history published in 1886, says that this was simply following out the social plan of a Zion which Smith attempted in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, under "revelation." He explains: "According to the primal law of colonization, recognized in all ages, it was THEIR LAND if they could hold and possess it. They could have done this so far as the Mexican government was concerned, which government probably never would even have made the first step to overthrow the superstructure of these Mormon society builders. At that date, before this territory was ceded to the United States, Brigham Young, as the master builder of the colonies which were soon to spread throughout these valleys, could with absolute propriety give the above utterances on the land question."**
* "They will not, however, without protest, buy the land, and hope that grants will be made to actual settlers or the state, sufficient to cover their improvements. If not, the state will be obliged to buy, and then confirm the titles already given."-- Gunnison. "The Mormons," 1852, p. 414.
** Captain Gunnison, who as lieutenant accompanied Stansbury's surveying party and printed a book giving his personal observations, was murdered in 1853 while surveying a railroad route at a camp on Sevier River. His party were surprised by a band of Pah Utes while at breakfast, and nine of them were killed. The charge was often made that this massacre was inspired by Mormons, but it has not been supported by direct evidence.
When the act organizing the territory was passed, very little of the Indian title to the land had been extinguished, and the Indians made bitter complaints of the seizure of their homes and hunting-grounds, and the establishment of private rights to canons and ferries, by the people who professed so great a regard for the "Lamanites." Congress, in February, 1855, created the office of surveyor general of Utah and defined his duties. The presence of this officer was resented at once, and as soon as Surveyor General David H. Burr arrived in Salt Lake City the church directed all its members to convey their lands to Young as trustee in trust for the church, "in consideration of the good will which---- have to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Explaining this order in a discourse in the Tabernacle on March 1, 1857, H. C. Kimball said: "I do not compel you to do it; the trustee in trust does not; God does not. But He says that if you will do this and the other things which He has counselled for our good, do so and prove Him.... If you trifle with me when I tell you the truth, you will trifle with Brother Brigham, and if you trifle with him you will also trifle with angels and with God, and thus you will trifle yourselves down to hell."*
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. IV, pp. 249, 252.
The Mormon policy toward the surveyors soon took practical shape. On August 30, 1856, Burr reported a nearly fatal assault on one of his deputies by three Danites. Deputy Surveyor Craig reported efforts of the Mormons to stir up the Indians against the surveyors, and quoted a suggestion of the Deseret News that the surveyors be prosecuted in the territorial court for trespass. In February, 1857, Burr reported a visit he had had from the clerk of the Supreme Court, the acting district attorney, and the territorial marshal, who told him plainly that the country was theirs.
They showed him a copy of a report that he had made to Washington, charging Young with extensive depredations, warned him that he could not write to Washington without their knowledge, and ordered that such letter writing should stop. "The fact is," Burr added, "these people repudiate the authority of the United States in this country, and are in open rebellion against the general government.... So strong have been my apprehensions of danger to the surveyors that I scarcely deemed it prudent to send any out.... We are by no means sure that we will be permitted to leave, for it is boldly asserted we would not get away alive."* He did escape early in the spring.
* For text of reports, see House Ex. Doc. No. 71, 1st Session, 35th Congress.
The reports of the Indian agents to the commissioner at Washington at this time were of the same character. Mormon trespasses on Indian land had caused more than one conflict with the savages, but, when there was a prospect of hostilities with the government, the Mormons took steps to secure Indian aid. In May, 1855, Indian Agent Hurt called the attention of the commissioner at Washington to the fact that the Mormons at their recent Conference had appointed a large number of missionaries to preach among the "Lamanites"; that these missionaries were "a class of lawless young men," and, as their influence was likely to be in favor of hostilities with the whites, he suggested that all Indian officers receive warning on the subject. Hurt was added to the list of fugitive federal officers from Utah, deeming it necessary to flee when news came of the approach of the troops in the fall of 1857. His escape was quite dramatic, some of his Indian friends assisting him. They reached General Johnston's camp about the middle of October, after suffering greatly from hunger and cold.
The Mormon leaders could scarcely fail to realize that a point must be reached when the federal government would assert its authority in Utah territory, but they deemed a conflict with the government of less serious moment than a surrender which would curtail their own civil and criminal jurisdiction, and bring their doctrine of polygamy within reach of the law. A specimen of the unbridled utterances of these leaders in those days will be found in a discourse by Mayor Grant in the Tabernacle, on March 2, 1856:--
"Who is afraid to die? None but the wicked. If they want to send troops here, let them come to those who have imported filth and whores, though we can attend to that class without so much expense to the Government. They will threaten us with United States troops! Why, your impudence and ignorance would bring a blush to the cheek of the veriest camp-follower among them. We ask no odds of you, you rotten carcasses, and I am not going to bow one hair's breadth to your influence. I would rather be cut into inch pieces than succumb one particle to such filthiness .... If we were to establish a whorehouse on every corner of our streets, as in nearly all other cities outside of Utah, either by law or otherwise, we should doubtless then be considered good fellows."*
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, pp. 234-235
Two weeks later Brigham Young, in a sermon in the same place, said, "I said then, and I shall always say, that I shall be governor as long as the Lord Almighty wishes me to govern this people.*
* Ibid., p. 258.
In January, 1853, Orson Pratt, as Mormon representative, began the publication in Washington, D.C., of a monthly periodical called The Seer, in which he defended polygamy, explained the Mormon creed, and set forth the attitude of the Mormons toward the United States government. The latter subject occupied a large part of the issue of January, 1854, in the shape of questions and answers. The following will give an illustration of their tone:--
"Q.--In what manner have the people of the United States treated the divine message contained in the Book of Mormon?
"A.--They have closed their eyes, their ears, their hearts and their doors against it. They have scorned, rejected and hated the servants of God who were sent to bear testimony of it.
"Q.--In what manner has the United States treated the Saints who have believed in this divine message?
"A.--They have proceeded to the most savage and outrageous persecutions;... dragged little children from their hiding-places, and, placing the muzzles of their guns to their heads, have blown out their brains, with the most horrid oaths and imprecations. They have taken the fair daughters of American citizens, bound them on benches used for public worship, and there, in great numbers, ravished them until death came to their relief."
Further answers were in the shape of an argument that the federal government was responsible for the losses of the Saints in Missouri and Illinois.
The government at Washington and the people of the Eastern states knew a good deal more about Mormonism in 1856 than they did when Fillmore gave the appointment of governor to Young in 1850. The return of one federal officer after another from Utah with a report that his office was untenable, even if his life was not in danger, the practical nullification of federal law, and the light that was beginning to be shed on Mormon social life by correspondents of Eastern newspapers had aroused enough public interest in the matter to lead the politicians to deem it worthy of their attention. Accordingly, the Republican National Convention, in June, 1856, inserted in its platform a plank declaring that the constitution gave Congress sovereign power over the territories, and that "it is both the right and the duty of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism--polygamy and slavery."
A still more striking proof of the growing political importance of the Mormon question was afforded by the attention paid to it by Stephen A. Douglas in a speech in Springfield, Illinois, on June 12, 1856, when he was hoping to secure the Democratic nomination for President. This former friend of the Mormons, their spokesman in the Senate, now declared that reports from the territory seemed to justify the belief that nine-tenths of its inhabitants were aliens; that all were bound by horrid oaths and penalties to recognize and maintain the authority of Brigham Young; and that the Mormon government was forming alliances with the Indians, and organizing Danite bands to rob and murder American citizens. "Under this view of the subject," said he, "I think it is the duty of the President, as I have no doubt it is his fixed purpose, to remove Brigham Young and all his followers from office, and to fill their places with bold, able, and true men; and to cause a thorough and searching investigation into all the crimes and enormities which are alleged to be perpetrated daily in that territory under the direction of Brigham Young and his confederates; and to use all the military force necessary to protect the officers in discharge of their duties and to enforce the laws of the land. When the authentic evidence shall arrive, if it shall establish the facts which are believed to exist, it will become the duty of Congress to apply the knife, and cut out this loathsome, disgusting ulcer."*
* Text of the speech in New York Times of June 23, 1856.
This, of course, caused the Mormons to pour out on Judge Douglas the vials of their wrath, and, when he failed to secure the presidential nomination, they found in his defeat the verification of one of Smith's prophecies.
The Mormons, on their part, had never ceased their demands for statehood, and another of their efforts had been made in the preceding spring, when a new constitution of the State of Deseret was adopted by a convention over which the notorious Jedediah M. Grant presided, and sent to Washington with a memorial pleading for admission to the Union, "that another star, shedding mild radiance from the tops of the mountains, midway between the borders of the Eastern and Western civilization, may add its effulgence to that bright light now so broadly illumining the governmental pathway of nations"; and declaring that "the loyalty of Utah has been variously and most thoroughly tested." Congress treated this application with practical contempt, the Senate laying the memorial on the table, and the chairman of the House Committee on Territories, Galusha A. Grow, refusing to present the constitution to the House.
Alarmed at the manifestations of public feeling in the East, and the demand that President Buchanan should do something to vindicate at least the dignity of the government, the Mormon leaders and press renewed their attacks on the character of all the federal officers who had criticized them, and the Deseret News urged the President to send to Utah "one or more civilians on a short visit to look about them and see what they can see, and return and report." The value of observations by such "short visitors" on such occasions need not be discussed.
President Buchanan, instead of following any Mormon advice, soon after his inauguration directed the organization of a body of troops to march to Utah to uphold the federal authorities, and in July, after several persons had declined the office, appointed as governor of Utah Alfred Cumming of Georgia. The appointee was a brother of Colonel William Cumming, who won renown as a soldier in the War of 1812, who was a Union party leader in the nullification contest in Jackson's time, and who was a participant in a duel with G. McDuffie that occupied a good deal of attention. Alfred Cumming had filled no more important positions than those of mayor of Augusta, Georgia, sutler in the Mexican War, and superintendent of Indian affairs on the upper Missouri. A much more commendable appointment made at the same time was that of D. R. Eckles, a Kentuckian by birth, but then a resident of Indiana, to be chief justice of the territory. John Cradlebaugh and C. E. Sinclair were appointed associate justices, with John Hartnett as secretary, and Peter K. Dotson as marshal. The new governor gave the first illustration of his conception of his duties by remaining in the East, while the troops were moving, asking for an increase of his salary, a secret service fund, and for transportation to Utah. Only the last of these requests was complied with.
President Buchanan's position as regards Utah at this time was thus stated in his first annual message to Congress (December 8, 1857):--
"The people of Utah almost exclusively belong to this [Mormon] church, and, believing with a fanatical spirit that he [Young] is Governor of the Territory by divine appointment, they obey his commands as if these were direct revelations from heaven. If, therefore, he chooses that his government shall come into collision with the government of the United States, the members of the Mormon church will yield implicit obedience to his will. Unfortunately, existing facts leave but little doubt that such is his determination. Without entering upon a minute history of occurrences, it is sufficient to say that all the officers of the United States, judicial and executive, with the single exception of two Indian agents, have found it necessary for their own safety to withdraw from the Territory, and there no longer remained any government in Utah but the despotism of Brigham Young. This being the condition of affairs in the Territory, I could not mistake the path of duty. As chief executive magistrate, I was bound to restore the supremacy of the constitution and laws within its limits. In order to effect this purpose, I appointed a new governor and other federal officers for Utah, and sent with them a military force for their protection, and to aid as a posse comitatus in case of need in the execution of the laws.
"With the religious opinions of the Mormons, as long as they remained mere opinions, however deplorable in themselves and revolting to the moral and religious sentiments of all Christendom, I have no right to interfere. Actions alone, when in violation of the constitution and laws of the United States, become the legitimate subjects for the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate. My instructions to Governor Cumming have, therefore, been framed in strict accordance with these principles."
This statement of the situation of affairs in Utah, and of the duty of the President in the circumstances, did not admit of criticism. But the country at that time was in a state of intense excitement over the slavery question, with the situation in Kansas the centre of attention; and it was charged that Buchanan put forward the Mormon issue as a part of his scheme to "gag the North" and force some question besides slavery to the front; and that Secretary of War Floyd eagerly seized the opportunity to remove "the flower of the American army" and a vast amount of munition and supplies to a distant place, remote from Eastern connections. The principal newspapers in this country were intensely partisan in those days, and party organs like the New York Tribune could be counted on to criticise any important step taken by the Democratic President. Such Mormon agents as Colonel Kane and Dr. Bernhisel, the Utah Delegate to Congress, were doing active work in New York and Washington, and some of it with effect. Horace Greeley, in his "Overland journey," describing his call on Brigham Young a few years later, says that he was introduced by "my friend Dr. Bernhisel." The "Tribune Almanac" for 1859, in an article on the Utah troubles, quoted as "too true" Young's declaration that "for the last twenty-five years we have trusted officials of the government, from constables and justices to judges, governors, and presidents, only to be scorned, held in derision, insulted and betrayed."* Ulterior motives aside, no President ever had a clearer duty than had Buchanan to maintain the federal authority in Utah, and to secure to all residents in and travellers through that territory the rights of life and property. The just ground for criticising him is, not that he attempted to do this, but that he faltered by the way.**
* Greeley's leaning to the Mormon side was quite persistent, leading him to support Governor Cumming a little later against the federal judges. The Mormons never forgot this. A Washington letter of April 24, 1874, to the New York Times said: "When Mr. Greeley was nominated for President the Mormons heartily hoped for his election. The church organs and the papers taken in the territory were all hostile to the administration, and their clamor deceived for a time people far more enlightened than the followers of the modern Mohammed. It is said that, while the canvass was pending, certain representatives of the Liberal-Democratic alliance bargained with Brigham Young, and that he contributed a very large sum of money to the treasury of the Greeley fund, and that, in consideration of this contribution, he received assurances that, if he should send a polygamist to Congress, no opposition would be made by the supporters of the administration that was to be, to his admission to the House. Brigham therefore sent Cannon instead of returning Hooper."
** It is curious to notice that the Utah troubles are entirely ignored in the "Life of James Buchanan " (1883) by George Ticknor Curtis, who was the counsel for the Mormons in the argument concerning polygamy before the United States Supreme Court in 1886.
Early in 1856 arrangements were entered into with H. C. Kimball for a contract to carry the mail between Independence, Missouri, and Salt Lake City. Young saw in this the nucleus of a big company that would maintain a daily express and mail service to and from the Mormon centre, and he at once organized the Brigham Young Express Carrying Company, and had it commended to the people from the pulpit. But recent disclosures of Mormon methods and purposes had naturally caused the government to question the propriety of confiding the Utah and transcontinental mails to Mormon hands, and on June 10, 1857, Kimball was notified that the government would not execute the contract with him, "the unsettled state of things at Salt Lake City rendering the mails unsafe under present circumstances." Mormon writers make much of the failure to execute this mail contract as an exciting cause of the "war." Tullidge attributes the action of the administration to three documents--a letter from Mail Contractor W. M. F. Magraw to the President, describing the situation in Utah, Judge Drummond's letter of resignation, and a letter from Indian Agent T. S. Twiss, dated July 13, 1856, informing the government that a large Mormon colony had taken possession of Deer Creek Valley, only one hundred miles west of Fort Laramie, driving out a settlement of Sioux whom the agent had induced to plant corn there, and charging that the Mormon occupation was made with a view to the occupancy of the country, and "under cover of a contract of the Mormon church to carry the mails."* Tullidge's statement could be made with hope of its acceptance only to persons who either lacked the opportunity or inclination to ascertain the actual situation in Utah and the President's sources of information.
* All these may be found in House Ex. Doc. No. 71, 1st Session, 35th Congress.
As to the mails, no autocratic government like that of Brigham Young would neglect to make what use it pleased of them in its struggle with the authorities at Washington. As early as November, 1851, Indian Agent Holman wrote to the Indian commissioner at Washington from Salt Lake City: "The Gentiles, as we are called who do not belong to the Mormon church, have no confidence in the management of the post-office here. It is believed by many that there is an examination of all letters coming and going, in order that they may ascertain what is said of them and by whom it is said. This opinion is so strong that all communications touching their character or conduct are either sent to Bridger or Laramie, there to be mailed. I send this communication through a friend to Laramie, to be there mailed for the States."
Testimony on this point four years later, from an independent source, is found in a Salt Lake City letter, of November 3, 1855, to the New York Herald. The writer said: "From September 5, to the 27th instant the people of this territory had not received any news from the States except such as was contained in a few broken files of California papers.... Letters and papers come up missing, and in the same mail come papers of very ancient dates; but letters once missing may be considered as irrevocably lost. Of all the numerous numbers of Harper's, Gleason's, and other illustrated periodicals subscribed for by the inhabitants of this territory, not one, I have been informed, has ever reached here." The forces selected for the expedition to Utah consisted of the Second Dragoons, then stationed at Fort Leavenworth in view of possible trouble in Kansas; the Fifth Infantry, stationed at that time in Florida; the Tenth Infantry, then in the forts in Minnesota; and Phelps's Battery of the Fourth Artillery, that had distinguished itself at Buena Vista--a total of about fifteen hundred men. Reno's Battery was added later.
General Scott's order provided for two thousand head of cattle to be driven with the troops, six months' supply of bacon, desiccated vegetables, 250 Sibley tents, and stoves enough to supply at least the sick. General Scott himself had advised a postponement of the expedition until the next year, on account of the late date at which it would start, but he was overruled. The commander originally selected for this force was General W. S. Harney; but the continued troubles in Kansas caused his retention there (as well as that of the Second Dragoons), and, when the government found that the Mormons proposed serious resistance, the chief command was given to Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, a West Point graduate, who had made a record in the Black Hawk War; in the service of the state of Texas, first in 1836 under General Rusk, and eventually as commander-in-chief in the field, and later as Secretary of War; and in the Mexican War as colonel of the First Texas Rifles. He was killed at the battle of Shiloh during the War of the Rebellion.
General Harney's letter of instruction, dated June 29, giving the views of General Scott and the War Department, stated that the civil government in Utah was in a state of rebellion; he was to attack no body of citizens, however, except at the call of the governor, the judges, or the marshals, the troops to be considered as a posse comitatus; he was made responsible for "a jealous, harmonious, and thorough cooperation" with the governor, accepting his views when not in conflict with military judgment and prudence. While the general impression, both at Washington and among the troops, was that no actual resistance to this force would be made by Young's followers, the general was told that "prudence requires that you should anticipate resistance, general, organized, and formidable, at the threshold."
Great activity was shown in forwarding the necessary supplies to Fort Leavenworth, and in the last two weeks of July most of the assigned troops were under way. Colonel Johnston arrived at Fort Leavenworth on September 11, assigned six companies of the Second Dragoons, under Lieutenant Colonel P. St. George Cooke, as an escort to Governor Cumming, and followed immediately after them. Major (afterward General) Fitz John Porter, who accompanied Colonel Johnston as assistant adjutant general, describing the situation in later years, said:--
"So late in the season had the troops started on this march that fears were entertained that, if they succeeded in reaching their destination, it would be only by abandoning the greater part of their supplies, and endangering the lives of many men amid the snows of the Rocky Mountains. So much was a terrible disaster feared by those acquainted with the rigors of a winter life in the Rocky Mountains, that General Harney was said to have predicted it, and to have induced Walker [of Kansas] to ask his retention."
Meanwhile, the Mormons had received word of what was coming. When A. O. Smoot reached a point one hundred miles west of Independence, with the mail for Salt Lake City, he met heavy freight teams which excited his suspicion, and at Kansas City obtained sufficient particulars of the federal expedition. Returning to Fort Laramie, he and O. P. Rockwell started on July 18, in a light wagon drawn by two fast horses, to carry the news to Brigham Young. They made the 513 miles in five days and three hours, arriving on the evening of July 23. Undoubtedly they gave Young this important information immediately. But Young kept it to himself that night. On the following day occurred the annual celebration of the arrival of the pioneers in the valley. To the big gathering of Saints at Big Cottonwood Lake, twenty- four miles from the city, Young dramatically announced the news of the coming "invasion." His position was characteristically defiant. He declared that "he would ask no odds of Uncle Sam or the devil," and predicted that he would be President of the United States in twelve years, or would dictate the successful candidate. Recalling his declaration ten years earlier that, after ten years of peace, they would ask no odds of the United States, he declared that that time had passed, and that thenceforth they would be a free and independent state--the State of Deseret.
The followers of Young eagerly joined in his defiance of the government, and in the succeeding weeks the discourses and the editorials of the Deseret News breathed forth dire threats against the advancing foe. Thus, the News of August 12 told the Washington authorities, "If you intend to continue the appointment of certain officers,"--that is, if you do not intend to surrender to the church federal jurisdiction in Utah--"we respectfully suggest that you appoint actually intelligent and honorable men, who will wisely attend to their own duties, and send them unaccompanied by troops"--that is, judges who would acknowledge the supremacy of the Mormon courts, or who, if not, would have no force to sustain them. This was followed by a threat that if any other kind of men were sent "they will really need a far larger bodyguard than twenty-five hundred soldiers."* The government was, in another editorial, called on to "entirely clear the track, and accord us the privilege of carrying our own mails at our own expense," and was accused of "high handedly taking away our rights and privileges, one by one, under pretext that the most devilish should blush at."
* An Englishman, in a letter to the New York Observer, dated London, May 26, 1857, said, "The English Mormons make no secret of their expectation that a collision will take place with the American authorities," and he quoted from a Mormon preacher's words as follows: "As to a collision with the American Government, there cannot be two opinions on the matter. We shall have judges, governors, senators and dragoons invading us, imprisoning and murdering us; but we are prepared, and are preparing judges, governors, senators and dragoons who will know how to dispose of their friends. The little stone will come into collision with the iron and clay and grind them to powder. It will be in Utah as it was in Nauvoo, with this difference, we are prepared now for offensive or defensive war; we were not then." Young in the pulpit was in his element. One example of his declarations must suffice:--
"I am not going to permit troops here for the protection of the priests and the rabble in their efforts to drive us from the land we possess.... You might as well tell me that you can make hell into a powder house as to tell me that they intend to keep an army here and have peace.... I have told you that if there is any man or woman who is not willing to destroy everything of their property that would be of use to an enemy if left, I would advise them to leave the territory, and I again say so to-day; for when the time comes to burn and lay waste our improvements, if any man undertakes to shield his, he will be treated as a traitor; for judgment will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet."*
* Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City," p. 160.
The official papers of Governor Young are perhaps the best illustrations of the spirit with which the federal authorities had to deal.
Words, however, were not the only weapons which the Mormons employed against the government at the start. Daniel H. Wells, "Lieutenant General" and commander of the Nauvoo Legion, which organization had been kept up in Utah, issued, on August 1, a despatch to each of twelve commanding officers of the Legion in the different settlements in the territory, declaring that "when anarchy takes the place of orderly government, and mobocratic tyranny usurps the powers of the rulers, they [the people of the territory] have left the inalienable right to defend themselves against all aggression upon their constitutional privileges"; and directing them to hold their commands ready to march to any part of the territory, with ammunition, wagons, and clothing for a winter campaign. In the Legion were enrolled all the able-bodied males between eighteen and forty-five years, under command of a lieutenant general, four generals, eleven colonels, and six majors.
The first mobilization of this force took place on August 15, when a company was sent eastward over the usual route to aid incoming immigrants and learn the strength of the federal force. By the employment of similar scouts the Mormons were thus kept informed of every step of the army's advance. A scouting party camped within half a mile of the foremost company near Devil's Gate on September 22, and did not lose sight of it again until it went into camp at Harris's Fort, where supplies had been forwarded in advance.
Captain Stewart Van Vliet, of General Harney's staff, was sent ahead of the troops, leaving Fort Leavenworth on July 28, to visit Salt Lake City, ascertain the disposition of the church authorities and the people toward the government, and obtain any other information that would be of use. Arriving in Salt Lake City in thirty three and a half days, he was received with affability by Young, and there was a frank interchange of views between them. Young recited the past trials of the Mormons farther east, and said that "therefore he and the people of Utah had determined to resist all persecution at the commencement, and that the TROOPS NOW ON THE MARCH FOR UTAH SHOULD NOT ENTER THE GREAT SALT LAKE VALLEY. As he uttered these words, all those present concurred most heartily."* Young said they had an abundance of everything required by the federal troops, but that nothing would be sold to the government. When told that, even if they did succeed in preventing the present military force from entering the valley the coming winter, they would have to yield to a larger force the following year, the reply was that that larger force would find Utah a desert; they would burn every house, cut down every tree, lay waste every field. "We have three years' provisions on hand," Young added, "which we will cache, and then take to the mountains and bid defiance to all the powers of the government."
* The quotations are from Captain Van Vliet's official report in House Ex. Doc. No. 71, previously referred to. Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City" (p. 16l) gives extracts from Apostle Woodruff's private journal of notes on the interview between Young and Captain Van Vliet, on September 12 and 13, in which Young is reported as saying: "We do not want to fight the United States, but if they drive us to it we shall do the best we can. God will overthrow them. We are the supporters of the constitution of the United States. If they dare to force the issue, I shall not hold the Indians by the wrist any longer for white men to shoot at them; they shall go ahead and do as they please."
When Young called for a vote on that proposition by an audience of four thousand persons in the Tabernacle, every hand was raised to vote yes. Captain Van Vliet summed up his view of the situation thus: that it would not be difficult for the Mormons to prevent the entrance of the approaching force that season; that they would not resort to actual hostilities until the last moment, but would burn the grass, stampede the animals, and cause delay in every manner.
The day after Captain Van Vliet left Salt Lake City, Governor Young gave official expression to his defiance of the federal government by issuing the following proclamation:--
"Citizens of Utah: We are invaded by a hostile force, who are evidently assailing us to accomplish our overthrow and destruction.
"For the last twenty-five years we have trusted officials of the government, from constables and justices to judges, governors, and Presidents, only to be scorned, held in derision, insulted, and betrayed. Our houses have been plundered and then burned, our fields laid waste, our principal men butchered, while under the pledged faith of the government for their safety, and our families driven from their homes to find that shelter in the barren wilderness and that protection among hostile savages, which were denied them in the boasted abodes of Christianity and civilization.
"The constitution of our common country guarantees unto us all that we do now or have ever claimed. If the constitutional rights which pertain unto us as American citizens were extended to Utah, according to the spirit and meaning thereof, and fairly and impartially administered, it is all that we can ask, all that we have ever asked.
"Our opponents have availed themselves of prejudice existing against us, because of our religious faith, to send out a formidable host to accomplish our destruction. We have had no privilege or opportunity of defending ourselves from the false, foul, and unjust aspersions against us before the nation. The government has not condescended to cause an investigating committee, or other persons, to be sent to inquire into and ascertain the truth, as is customary in such cases. We know those aspersions to be false; but that avails us nothing. We are condemned unheard, and forced to an issue with an armed mercenary mob, which has been sent against us at the instigation of anonymous letter writers, ashamed to father the base, slanderous falsehoods which they have given to the public; of corrupt officials, who have brought false accusations against us to screen themselves in their own infamy; and of hireling priests and howling editors, who prostitute the truth for filthy lucre's sake.
"The issue which has thus been forced upon us compels us to resort to the great first law of self-preservation, and stand in our own defence, a right guaranteed to us by the genius of the institutions of our country, and upon which the government is based. Our duty to ourselves, to our families, requires us not to tamely submit to be driven and slain, without an attempt to preserve ourselves; our duty to our country, our holy religion, our God, to freedom and liberty, requires that we should not quietly stand still and see those fetters forging around us which were calculated to enslave and bring us in subjection to an unlawful, military despotism, such as can only emanate, in a country of constitutional law, from usurpation, tyranny, and oppression.
"Therefore, I, Brigham Young, Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of Utah, in the name of the people of the United States in the Territory of Utah, forbid:
"First. All armed forces of every description from coming into this Territory, under any pretence whatever.
"Second. That all forces in said Territory hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice to repel any and all such invasion.
"Third. Martial law is hereby declared to exist in this Territory from and after the publication of this proclamation, and no person shall be allowed to pass or repass into or through or from this Territory without a permit from the proper officer.
"Given under my hand and seal, at Great Salt Lake City, Territory of Utah, this 15th day of September, A.D. 1857, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-second.
The advancing troops received from Captain Van Vliet as he passed eastward their first information concerning the attitude of the Mormons toward them, and Colonel Alexander, in command of the foremost companies, accepted his opinion that the Mormons would not attack them if the army did not advance beyond Fort Bridger or Fort Supply, this idea being strengthened by the fact that one hundred wagon loads of stores, undefended, had remained unmolested on Ham's Fork for three weeks. The first division of the federal troops marched across Greene River on September 27, and hurried on thirty five miles to what was named Camp Winfield, on Ham's Fork, a confluent of Black Fork, which emptied into Greene River. Phelps's and Reno's batteries and the Fifth Infantry reached there about the same time, but there was no cavalry, the kind of force most needed, because of the detention of the Dragoons in Kansas.
On September 30 General Wells forwarded to Colonel Alexander, from Fort Bridger, Brigham Young's proclamation of September 15, a copy of the laws of Utah, and the following letter addressed to "the officer commanding the forces now invading Utah Territory":
"GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, UTAH TERRITORY,
GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, September 29, 1857.
"Sir: By reference to the act of Congress passed September 9, 1850, organizing the Territory of Utah, published in a copy of the laws of Utah, herewith forwarded, pp. 146-147, you will find the following:--
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, that the executive power and authority in and over said Territory of Utah shall be vested in a Governor, who shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the President of the United States. The Governor shall reside within said Territory, shall be Commander-in-chief of the militia thereof', etc., etc.
"I am still the Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for this Territory, no successor having been appointed and qualified, as provided by law; nor have I been removed by the President of the United States.
"By virtue of the authority thus vested in me, I have issued, and forwarded you a copy of, my proclamation forbidding the entrance of armed forces into this Territory. This you have disregarded. I now further direct that you retire forthwith from the Territory, by the same route you entered. Should you deem this impracticable, and prefer to remain until spring in the vicinity of your present encampment, Black's Fork or Greene River, you can do so in peace and unmolested, on condition that you deposit your arms and ammunition with Lewis Robinson, Quartermaster General of the Territory, and leave in the spring, as soon as the condition of the roads will permit you to march; and, should you fall short of provisions, they can be furnished you, upon making the proper applications therefor. General D. H. Wells will forward this, and receive any communications you may have to make.
"Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Utah Territory."
General Wells's communication added to this impudent announcement the declaration, "It may be proper to add that I am here to aid in carrying out the instructions of Governor Young."
On October 2 Colonel Alexander, in a note to Governor Young, acknowledged the receipt of his enclosures, said that he would submit Young's letter to the general commanding as soon as he arrived, and added, "In the meantime I have only to say that these troops are here by the orders of the President of the United States, and their future movements and operations will depend entirely upon orders issued by competent military authority."
Two Mormon officers, General Robinson and Major Lot Smith, had been sent to deliver Young's letter and proclamation to the federal officer in command, but they did not deem it prudent to perform this office in person, sending a Mexican with them into Colonel Alexander's camp.* In the same way they received Colonel Alexander's reply.
* Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City," p. 171.
The Mormon plan of campaign was already mapped out, and it was thus stated in an order of their commanding general, D. H. Wells, a copy of which was found on a Mormon major, Joseph Taylor, to whom it was addressed:--
"You will proceed, with all possible despatch, without injuring your animals, to the Oregon road, near the bend of Bear River, north by east of this place. Take close and correct observations of the country on your route. When you approach the road, send scouts ahead to ascertain if the invading troops have passed that way. Should they have passed, take a concealed route and get ahead of them, express to Colonel Benton, who is now on that road and in the vicinity of the troops, and effect a junction with him, so as to operate in concert. On ascertaining the locality or route of the troops, proceed at once to annoy them in every possible way. Use every exertion to stampede their animals and set fire to their trains. Burn the whole country before them and on their flanks. Keep them from sleeping by night surprises; blockade the road by felling trees or destroying river fords, where you can. Watch for opportunities to set fire to the grass on their windward, so as if possible to envelop their trains. Leave no grass before them that can be burned. Keep your men concealed as much as possible, and guard against surprise. Keep scouts out at all times, and communications open with Colonel Benton, Major McAllster and O. P. Rockwell, who are operating in the same way. Keep me advised daily of your movements, and every step the troops take, and in which direction.
"God bless you and give you success. Your brother in Christ."
The first man selected to carry out this order was Major Lot Smith. Setting out at 4 P.M., on October 3, with forty-four men, after an all night's ride, he came up with a federal supply train drawn by oxen. The captain of this train was ordered to "go the other way till he reached the States." As he persistently retraced his steps as often as the Mormons moved away, the latter relieved his wagons of their load and left him. Sending one of his captains with twenty men to capture or stampede the mules of the Tenth Regiment, Smith, with the remainder of his force, started for Sandy Fork to intercept army trains.
Scouts sent ahead to investigate a distant cloud of dust reported that it was made by a freight train of twenty-six wagons. Smith allowed this train to proceed until dark, and then approached it undiscovered. Finding the drivers drunk, as he afterward explained, and fearing that they would be belligerent and thus compel him to disobey his instruction "not to hurt any one except in self-defence," he lay concealed until after midnight. His scouts meanwhile had reported to him that the train was drawn up for the night in two lines.
Allowing the usual number of men to each wagon, Smith decided that his force of twenty-four was sufficient to capture the outfit, and, mounting his command, he ordered an advance on the camp. But a surprise was in store for him. His scouts had failed to discover that a second train had joined the first, and that twice the force anticipated confronted them. When this discovery was made, the Mormons were too close to escape observation. Members of Smith's party expected that their leader would now make some casual inquiry and then ride on, as if his destination were elsewhere. Smith, however, decided differently. As his force approached the camp-fire that was burning close to the wagons, he noticed that the rear of his column was not distinguishable in the darkness, and that thus the smallness of their number could not be immediately discovered. He, therefore, asked at once for the captain of the train, and one Dawson stepped forward. Smith directed him to have his men collect their private property at once, as he intended to "put a little fire" into the wagons. "For God's sake, don't burn the trains," was the reply. Dawson was curtly told where his men were to stack their arms, and where they were themselves to stand under guard. Then, making a torch, Smith ordered one of the government drivers to apply it, in order that "the Gentiles might spoil the Gentiles," as he afterward expressed it. The destruction of the supplies was complete. Smith allowed an Indian to take two wagon covers for a lodge, and some flour and soap, and compelled Dawson to get out some provisions for his own men. Nothing else was spared.
The official list of rations thus destroyed included 2720 pounds of ham, 92,700 of bacon, 167,900 of flour, 8910 of coffee, 1400 of sugar, 1333 of soap, 800 of sperm candles, 765 of tea, 7781 of hard bread, and 68,832 rations of desiccated vegetables. Another train was destroyed by the same party the next day on the Big Sandy, besides a few sutlers' wagons that were straggling behind.
On October 5 Colonel Alexander assumed command of all the troops in the camp. He found his position a trying one. In a report dated October 8, he said that his forage would last only fourteen days, that no information of the position or intentions of the commanding officer had reached him, and that, strange as it may appear, he was "in utter ignorance of the objects of the government in sending troops here, or the instructions given for their conduct after reaching here." In these circumstances, he called a council of his officers and decided to advance without waiting for Colonel Johnston and the other companies, as he believed that delay would endanger the entire force. He selected as his route to a wintering place, not the most direct one to Salt Lake City, inasmuch as the canons could be easily defended, but one twice as long (three hundred miles), by way of Soda Springs, and thence either down Bear River Valley or northeast toward the Wind River Mountains, according to the resistance he might encounter.
The march, in accordance with this decision, began on October 11, and a weary and profitless one it proved to be. Snow was falling as the column moved, and the ground was covered with it during their advance. There was no trail, and a road had to be cut through the greasewood and sage brush. The progress was so slow-- often only three miles a day--and the supply train so long, that camp would sometimes be pitched for the night before the rear wagons would be under way. Wells's men continued to carry out his orders, and, in the absence of federal cavalry, with little opposition. One day eight hundred oxen were "cut out" and driven toward Salt Lake City.
Conditions like these destroyed the morale of both officers and men, and there were divided counsels among the former, and complaints among the latter. Finally, after having made only thirty-five miles in nine days, Colonel Alexander himself became discouraged, called another council, and, in obedience to its decision, on October 19 directed his force to retrace their steps. They moved back in three columns, and on November 2 all of them had reached a camp on Black's Fork, two miles above Fort Bridger.
Colonel Johnston had arrived at Fort Laramie on October 5, and, after a talk with Captain Van Vliet, had retained two additional companies of infantry that were on the way to Fort Leavenworth. As he proceeded, rumors of the burning of trains, exaggerated as is usual in such times, reached him. Having only about three hundred men to guard a wagon train six miles in length, some of the drivers showed signs of panic, and the colonel deemed the situation so serious that he accepted an offer of fifty or sixty volunteers from the force of the superintendent of the South Pass wagon road. He was fortunate in having as his guide the well known James Bridger, to whose knowledge of Rocky Mountain weather signs they owed escapes from much discomfort, by making camps in time to avoid coming storms.
But even in camp a winter snowstorm is serious to a moving column, especially when it deprives the animals of their forage, as it did now. The forage supply was almost exhausted when South Pass was reached, and the draught and beef cattle were in a sad plight. Then came another big snowstorm and a temperature of l6 , during which eleven mules and a number of oxen were frozen to death. In this condition of affairs, Colonel Johnston decided that a winter advance into Salt Lake Valley was impracticable. Learning of Colonel Alexander's move, which he did not approve, he sent word for him to join forces with his own command on Black's Fork, and there the commanding officer arrived on November 3.
Lieutenant Colonel Cooke, of the Second Dragoons, with whom Governor Cumming was making the trip, had a harrowing experience. There was much confusion in organizing his regiment of six companies at Fort Leavenworth, and he did not begin his march until September 17, with a miserable lot of mules and insufficient supplies. He found little grass for the animals, and after crossing the South Platte on October 15, they began to die or to drop out. From that point snow and sleet storms were encountered, and, when Fort Laramie was reached, so many of the animals had been left behind or were unable to travel, that some of his men were dismounted, the baggage supply was reduced, and even the ambulances were used to carry grain. After passing Devil's Gate, they encountered a snowstorm on November 5. The best shelter their guide could find was a lofty natural wall at a point known as Three Crossings. Describing their night there he says: "Only a part of the regiment could huddle behind the rock in the deep snow; whilst, the long night through, the storm continued, and in fearful eddies from above, before, behind, drove the falling and drifting snow. Thus exposed, for the hope of grass the poor animals were driven, with great devotion, by the men once more across the stream and three-quarters of a mile beyond, to the base of a granite ridge, which almost faced the storm. There the famished mules, crying piteously, did not seek to eat, but desperately gathered in a mass, and some horses, escaping guard, went back to the ford, where the lofty precipice first gave us so pleasant relief and shelter."
The march westward was continued through deep snow and against a cold wind. On November 8 twenty-three mules had given out, and five wagons had to be abandoned. On the night of the 9th, when the mules were tied to the wagons, "they gnawed and destroyed four wagon tongues, a number of wagon covers, ate their ropes, and getting loose, ate the sage fuel collected at the tents." On November 10 nine horses were left dying on the road, and the thermometer was estimated to have marked twenty-five degrees below zero. Their thermometers were all broken, but the freezing of a bottle of sherry in a trunk gave them a basis of calculation.
The command reached a camp three miles below Fort Bridger on November 19. Of one hundred and forty-four horses with which they started, only ten reached that camp.
When Colonel Johnston arrived at the Black's Fork camp the information he received from Colonel Alexander, and certain correspondence with the Mormon authorities, gave him a comprehensive view of the situation; and on November 5 he forwarded a report to army headquarters in the East, declaring that it was the matured design of the Mormons "to hold and occupy this territory independent of and irrespective of the authority of the United States," entertaining "the insane design of establishing a form of government thoroughly despotic, and utterly repugnant to our institutions."
The correspondence referred to began with a letter from Brigham Young to Colonel Alexander, dated October 14. Opening with a declaration of Young's patriotism, and the brazen assertion that the people of Utah "had never resisted even the wish of the President of the United States, nor treated with indignity a single individual coming to the territory under his authority," he went on to say:--
"But when the President of the United States so far degrades his high position, and prostitutes the highest gift of the people, as to make use of the military power (only intended for the protection of the people's rights) to crush the people's liberties, and compel them to receive officials so lost to self-respect as to accept appointments against the known and expressed wish of the people, and so craven and degraded as to need an army to protect them in their position, we feel that we should be recreant to every principle of self-respect, honor, integrity, and patriotism to bow tamely to such high-handed tyranny, a parallel for which is only found in the attempts of the British government, in its most corrupt stages, against the rights, liberties, and lives of our forefathers."
He then appealed to Colonel Alexander, as probably "the unwilling agent" of the administration, to return East with his force, saying, "I have yet to learn that United States officers are implicitly bound to obey the dictum of a despotic President, in violating the most sacred constitutional rights of American citizens."
On October 18 Colonel Alexander, acknowledging the receipt of Young's letter, said in his reply that no one connected with his force had any wish to interfere in any way with the religion of the people of Utah, adding: "I repeat my earnest desire to avoid violence and bloodshed, and it will require positive resistance to force me to it. But my troops have the same right of self- defence that you claim, and it rests entirely with you whether they are driven to the exercise of it."
Finding that he could not cajole the federal officer, Young threw off all disguise, and in reply to an earlier letter of Colonel Alexander, he gave free play to his vituperative powers. After going over the old Mormon complaints, and declaring that "both we and the Kingdom of God will be free from all hellish oppressors, the Lord being our helper," he wrote at great length in the following tone:--
"If you persist in your attempt to permanently locate an army in this Territory, contrary to the wishes and constitutional rights of the people therein, and with a view to aid the administration in their unhallowed efforts to palm their corrupt officials upon us, and to protect them and blacklegs, black-hearted scoundrels, whoremasters, and murderers, as was the sole intention in sending you and your troops here, you will have to meet a mode of warfare against which your tactics furnish you no information....
"If George Washington was now living, and at the helm of our government, he would hang the administration as high as he did Andre, and that, too, with a far better grace and to a much greater subserving the best interests of our country....
"By virtue of my office as Governor of the Territory of Utah, I command you to marshal your troops and leave this territory, for it can be of no possible benefit to you to wickedly waste treasures and blood in prosecuting your course upon the side of a rebellion against the general government by its administrators.... Were you and your fellow officers as well acquainted with your soldiers as I am with mine, and did they understand the work they were now engaged in as well as you may understand it, you must know that many of them would immediately revolt from all connection with so ungodly, illegal, unconstitutional and hellish a crusade against an innocent people, and if their blood is shed it shall rest upon the heads of their commanders. With us it is the Kingdom of God or nothing."
To this Colonel Alexander replied, on the 19th, that no citizen of Utah would be harmed through the instrumentality of the army in the performance of its duties without molestation, and that, as Young's order to leave the territory was illegal and beyond his authority, it would not be obeyed.
John Taylor, on October 21, added to this correspondence a letter to Captain Marcy, in which he ascribed to party necessity the necessity of something with which to meet the declaration of the Republicans against polygamy--the order of the President that troops should accompany the new governor to Utah; declared that the religion of the Mormons was "a right guaranteed to us by the constitution"; and reiterated their purpose, if driven to it, "to burn every house, tree, shrub, rail, every patch of grass and stack of straw and hay, and flee to the mountains." "How a large army would fare without resources," he added, "you can picture to yourself."*
* Text of this letter in House Ex. Doc. No. 71, 1st Session, 35th Congress, and Tullidge's "History of Salt Lake City."
The Mormon authorities meant just what they said from the start. Young was as determined to be the head of the civil government of the territory as he was to be the head of the church. He had founded a practical dictatorship, with power over life and property, and had discovered that such a dictatorship was necessary to the regulation of the flock that he had gathered around him and to the schemes that he had in mind. To permit a federal governor to take charge of the territory, backed up by troops who would sustain him in his authority, meant an end to Young's absolute rule. Rather than submit to this, he stood ready to make the experiment of fighting the government force, separated as that force was from its Eastern base of supplies; to lay waste the Mormon settlements, if it became necessary to use this method of causing a federal retreat by starvation; and, if this failed, to withdraw his flock to some new Zion farther south.
In accordance with this view, as soon as news of the approach of the troops reached Salt Lake Valley, all the church industries stopped; war supplies weapons and clothing were manufactured and accumulated; all the elders in Europe were ordered home, and the outlying colonies in Carson Valley and in southern California were directed to hasten to Salt Lake City. A correspondent of the San Francisco Bulletin at San Bernardino, California, reported that in the last six months the Mormons there had sent four or five tons of gunpowder and many weapons to Utah, and that, when the order to "gather" at the Mormon metropolis came, they sacrificed everything to obey it, selling real estate at a reduction of from 20 to 50 per cent, and furniture for any price that it would bring. The same sacrifices were made in Carson Valley, where 150 wagons were required to accommodate the movers. In Salt Lake City the people were kept wrought up to the highest pitch by the teachings of their leaders. Thus, Amasa W. Lyman told them, on October 8, that they would not be driven away, because "the time has come when the Kingdom of God should be built up."* Young told them the same day, "If we will stand up as men and women of God, the yoke shall never be placed upon our necks again, and all hell cannot overthrow us, even with the United States troops to help them."** Kimball told the people in the Tabernacle, on October 18: "They [the United States] will have to make peace with us, and we never again shall make peace with them. If they come here, they have got to give up their arms." Describing his plan of campaign, at the same service, after the reading of the correspondence between Young and Colonel Alexander, Young said: "Do you want to know what is going to be done with the enemies now on our border? As soon as they start to come into our settlements, let sleep depart from their eyes and slumber from their eyelids until they sleep in death. Men shall be secreted here and there, and shall waste away our enemies in the name of Israel's God."***
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. V, p. 319.
** Ibid., Vol. V, p. 332
*** Ibid., Vol. V, p. 338.
Young was equally explicit in telling members of his own flock what they might expect if they tried to depart at that time. In a discourse in the Tabernacle, on October 25, he said:--
"If any man or woman in Utah wants to leave this community, come to me and I will treat you kindly, as I always have, and will assist you to leave; but after you have left our settlements you must not then depend upon me any longer, nor upon the God I serve. You must meet the doom you have labored for.... After this season, when this ignorant army has passed off, I shall never again say to a man, Stay your rifle ball,' when our enemies assail us, but shall say, Slay them where you find them."'*
* Ibid, Vol. V, p. 352.
Kimball, on November 8, spoke with equal plainness on this subject:--
"When it is necessary that blood should be shed, we should be as ready to do that as to eat an apple. That is my religion, and I feel that our platter is pretty near clean of some things, and we calculate to keep it clean from this time henceforth and forever .... And if men and women will not live their religion, but take a course to pervert the hearts of the righteous, we will lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet,' and we will let you know that the earth can swallow you up as did Koran with his hosts; and, as Brother Taylor says, you may dig your graves, and we will slay you and you may crawl into them."*
* Journal of Discourses, Vol. VI, p. 34.
The Mormon songs of the day breathed the same spirit of defiance to the United States authorities. A popular one at the Tabernacle services began:--
"Old Uncle Sam has sent, I understand, Du dah, A Missouri ass to rule our land, Du dah! Du dah day. But if he comes we'll have some fun, Du dah, To see him and his juries run, Du dah! Du dah day.
Chorus: Then let us be on hand, By Brigham Young to stand, And if our enemies do appear, We'll sweep them from the land."
Another still more popular song, called "Zion," contained these words:--
"Here our voices we'll raise, and will sing to thy praise, Sacred home of the Prophets of God; Thy deliverance is nigh, thy oppressors shall die, And the Gentiles shall bow neath thy rod."
When the Mormons found that the federal forces had gone into winter quarters, the Nauvoo Legion was massed in a camp called Camp Weber, at the mouth of Echo Canon. This canon they fortified with ditches and breastworks, and some dams intended to flood the roadway; but they succeeded in erecting no defences which could not have been easily overcome by a disciplined force. A watch was set day and night, so that no movement of "the invaders" could escape them, and the officer in charge was particularly forbidden to allow any civil officer appointed by the President to pass.
This careful arrangement was kept up all winter, but Tullidge says that no spies were necessary, as deserting soldiers and teamsters from the federal camp kept coming into the valley with information.
The territorial legislature met in December, and approved Governor Young's course, every member signing a pledge to maintain "the rights and liberties" of the territory. The legislators sent a memorial to Congress, dated January 6, 1858, demanding to be informed why "a hostile course is pursued toward an unoffending people," calling the officers who had fled from the territory liars, declaring that "we shall not again hold still while fetters are being forged to bind us," etc. This offensive document reached Washington in March, and was referred in each House to the Committee on Territories, where it remained. When the federal forces reached Fort Bridger, they found that the Mormons had burned the buildings, and it was decided to locate the winter camp--named Camp Scott--on Black's Fork, two miles above the fort. The governor and other civil officers spent the winter in another camp near by, named "Ecklesville," occupying dugouts, which they covered with an upper story of plastered logs. There was a careful apportionment of rations, but no suffering for lack of food.
An incident of the winter was the expedition of Captain Randolph B. Marcy across the Uinta Mountains to New Mexico, with two guides and thirty-five volunteer companions, to secure needed animals. The story of his march is one of the most remarkable on record, the company pressing on, even after Indian guides refused to accompany them to what they said was certain death, living for days only on the meat supplied by half-starved mules, and beating a path through deep snow. This march continued from November 27 to January 10, when, with the loss of only one man, they reached the valley of the Rio del Norte, where supplies were obtained from Fort Massachusetts. Captain Marcy started back on March 17, selecting a course which took him past Long's and Pike's Peaks. He reached Camp Scott on June 8, with about fifteen hundred horses and mules, escorted by five companies of infantry and mounted riflemen.
During the winter Governor Cumming sent to Brigham Young a proclamation notifying him of the arrival of the new territorial officers, and assuring the people that he would resort to the military posse only in case of necessity. Judge Eckles held a session of the United States District Court at Camp Scott on December 30, and the grand jury of that court found indictments for treason, resting on Young's proclamation and Wells's instructions, against Young, Kimball, Wells, Taylor, Grant, Locksmith, Rockwell, Hickman, and many others, but of course no arrests were made.
Meanwhile, at Washington, preparations were making to sustain the federal authority in Utah as soon as spring opened.* Congress made an appropriation, and authorized the enlistment of two regiments of volunteers; three thousand regular troops and two batteries were ordered to the territory, and General Scott was directed to sail for the Pacific coast with large powers. But General Scott did not sail, the army contracts created a scandal,** and out of all this preparation for active hostilities came peace without the firing of a shot; out of all this open defiance and vilification of the federal administration by the Mormon church came abject surrender by the administration itself.
* For the correspondence concerning the camp during the winter of 1858, see Sen. Doc., 2d Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II.
** Colonel Albert G. Brown, Jr., in his account of the Utah Expedition in the Atlantic Monthly for April, 1859, said: "To the shame of the administration these gigantic contracts, involving an amount of more than $6,000,000, were distributed with a view to influence votes in the House of Representatives upon the Lecompton Bill. Some of the lesser ones, such as those for furnishing mules, dragoon horses, and forage, were granted arbitrarily to relatives or friends of members who were wavering upon that question.
The principal contract, that for the transportation of all the supplies, involving for the year 1858 the amount of $4,500,000, was granted, without advertisement or subdivision, to a firm in Western Missouri, whose members had distinguished themselves in the effort to make Kansas a slave state, and now contributed liberally to defray the election expenses of the Democratic party."
Etusivu > Kirjallisuus > Story of the Mormons | Sivun alkuun