The Church Historian's Press

16 November 1878

Public Meeting; Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory

Two-story, granite building with porch columns and scaffolding on both sides of the building

Salt Lake City Theatre, circa 1869. (Courtesy Church History Library.)

Pursuant to a call published in our last issue, a mass meeting of the women of this city convened [. . .] to protest against the interference of the Anti-Polygamy crusade with their rights and privileges as American citizens. [. . .] It was an inspiring spectacle to gaze upon; such an one as is seldom seen. No gentlemen were admitted except reporters. [. . .] Represenative ladies of this city were upon the stand, to take part in the proceedings, and many veteran women, who have been true and faithful from the days of Kirtland, were there to give their support [. . .]

The assembly was called to order by Mrs. Zina D. [H.] Young, and on motion of Mrs. E. [Emmeline] B. Wells, Miss Eliza R. Snow was elected President [. . .]

On being called to the chair, Miss Eliza R. Snow said:

Beloved Sisters and Friends:

It now becomes my duty, as president over this assembly, to state the object of this meeting. As saints of the living God, who have been persecuted and driven from our homes from place to place, and now located in the valleys of these mountains, having been misrepresented from time to time, we claim the privilege, to-day, of representing ourselves. As true and loyal American citizens, we claim the right of protection by that government under which we live, and the free exercise of our religious rights. It is for the sake of our religion that we are located here; and inasmuch as we, the veritable women of Utah, those who came here when this land and soil belonged to Mexico, and who, through our faith, prayers and indefatigable labors, have assisted in reclaiming it—making it habitable and beautiful—we claim that we have, under God and under the glorious constitution of our country, which has been bequeathed to us by our forefathers, and which we believe to have been given by the inspiration of God through our noble progenitors, the sacred right to believe as we please—to listen to the voice of God when he speaks—to obey him by keeping those commandments which he has delivered unto us, knowing that he has spoken in these last days by his own voice, by the voice of his well beloved Son, and by the voice of angels to him whom he raised up prophet and seer, that He has gathered his people together from the four quarters of the earth, that He is establishing a government upon the principles of purity, peace and righteousness. We feel that it is our right to worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences, without fear or molestation, under the protection of that government which guarantees unto us the right of conscience. And inasmuch as one of the most Important principles which God has revealed, and which He requires of his children to practice, has been assailed, we have met to mutually express our views upon this subject.

Before the principle of plurality of wives was known to be practiced by the Latter-day Saints, we were driven, our prophet and patriarch were vilely massacred, and not one of the perpetrators of the atrocious deed has ever been brought to justice. We have submitted to these wrongs, we have suffered oppression, privation, hardships and misrepresentation, and now we feel that it is our right, and duty demands of us, to express our sentiments.

I am proud to state before this large and honorable assembly that I believe in the principle of plural marriage just as sacredly as I believe in any other institution which God has revealed. I believe it to be necessary for the redemption of the human family from the low state of corruption into which it has sunken. And I truly believe that a congress composed of polygamic men, who are true to their wives, would confer a far higher honor upon a nation, and would perform better service to their country than a congress composed of monogamic, unreliable husbands.1

Virtue is the foundation of the prosperity of any nation; and this sacred principle of plural maariage tends to virtue, purity and holiness. Those who represent the women of Utah as ignorant and degraded, are either aiming to bring evil upon us, or they know not what they are doing. Although I deprecate the false and odious representations of our condition, and the vilification of our characters, I view with pity and commiseration those who have banded together in our midst, to work up a crusade that is calculated and designed to subvert and to sever the most sacred ties existing between man and woman—to separate husbands and wives, to put the reproach of bastardy upon their children, and trample upon the holiest affections of the human heart. I say I look upon them with sympathy and commiseration. They are trying to measure arms with the Almighty—they know not what they do. Do I feel a spirit of revenge towards them? No, my sisters, I do not. They are in the hands of God, and to him we submit all these matters. Yet it is our duty, as far as we have the privilege, to plead our own cause, realizing fully that it is better to represent ourselves [p. 97] than to be misrepresented, and leave vengeance unto God, who has said, “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.” For this purpose, my sisters, we have met together to express our feelings and to plead our own cause.

[. . .] [p. 98]

Source Note

Woman’s Mass Meeting,” Woman’s Exponent 7, no. 13 (1 Dec. 1878): 97–98.

See also “Polygamy,” Salt Lake Daily Herald 9, no. 141 (17 Nov. 1878): [3]; “Mormon Ladies on Plural Marriage,” Deseret News 27, no. 42 (20 Nov. 1878): 664; and “Polygamy and Its Advocates,” Salt Lake Daily Tribune 16, no. 37 (27 Nov. 1878): [2].

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16 November 1878, Public Meeting; Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, The Discourses of Eliza R. Snow, accessed July 18, 2024