April 1874

1 April 1874 • Wednesday

Notified to-day that the Com. on Judiciary would give me a hearing on Friday morning at 1/2 past 10. Busy at House all day. Had interviews with Col. Corkhill of the Washington Chronicle.

2 April 1874 • Thursday

Hawley occupied half an hour before the Com on Elections this morning. He talked bitterly and abusively of me, said I was one of the founders of a system of murder and an inaugurator of bloodshed. I should have denounced him on the spot; but Gen. Paine urged me not to do so. Gen. Paine followed. His argument was written and it was clear, forcible and incisive; he read it very well. The Com. listened to him very attentively and they appeared to pay a respect to what he said that they did not to Hawley.

3 April 1874 • Friday

Gen. Paine finished his argument before the Com. on Elections this morning. I thought it a very conclusive one. He denied <repelled> in the most emphatic language the charge of Hawley respecting murder.

4 April 1874 • Saturday

I wrote a synopsis of the argument of Gen. Paine for the Evening Star. Mr. Kaufman <one of the proprietors> invited me to eat dinner with him to-morrow, Easter Sunday.

5 April 1874 • Sunday

I dined with Mr. Kauffman and family and had a very pleasant time.

6 April 1874 • Monday

A. G. Riddle, an ex-member of Congress, who formerly lived near Kirtland, made the closing argument for Maxwell to-day. He is a better talker and more able lawyer than Hawley, and he was very bitter in his attacks upon and denunciation of me. Till I listened to these I had no idea I was such a man. I never suspected I was the monster they wished to make me out to be. Gen. Paine told the Committee he would not reply then and take up their time, but would print his remarks and add them to his previous argument. I sat up till four o’clock Tuesday morning preparing my argument for Com. on Judiciary. I have been impressed to do so.

7 April 1874 • Tuesday

It was fortunate I wrote my remarks. I was limited to 20 minutes; then Merritt, Carey & Gilchrist who were present, were to have half an hour, and I was to have ten minutes to reply. I was stopped at the end of the 20 minutes, but by a vote allowed to proceed and occupied the <whole> time of the meeting, which had my argument not been written I would not have been allowed to do. Dropping my reading near the close, I asked who were the parties urging legislation against Utah? Were they the capitalists, the tax-payers, the property owners? No; they were not here. But who were here? The U.S. Attorney, the U.S. Marshal, who if this bill should become law would give them fees and make their positions more valuable than that of the President of the U.S. I said it was infamous that these men, (and I pointed to Carey) should be here lobbying such a bill through congress. One would think that any person having any sense of shame would hide his head, and not go about the floor and the Com. rooms of Congress logrolling for such legislation. This is an epitome of what I said. But the Spirit was on me and I spoke with power, and the Com. felt it, and Carey cringed, turned purple with shame and appeared to shrink into his seat.

8 April 1874 • Wednesday

Busy at the House. Wrote a number of letters in the evening.

9 April 1874 • Thursday

To-day has been a somewhat important day in the House. The question of the currency has been up. This appears to be a war of sections. The East protests against the increase of currency. The South and West are for it. The feeling on the subject is as earnest and bitter as in the early days of the slavery agitation. These sectional differences are ominous of future evil. It would not surprise me if I saw dreadful results follow this action upon the currency.

10 April 1874 • Friday

Met with the Com. on Judiciary this morning. The time was assigned to Carey and Merritt; Maxwell was also there. Merritt occupied the most of the time. He reviewed the decisions of McKean, quoted Orchard vs. Hughes to show that he had decided correctly, and, by inference, that in the case of Clinton vs. Englebrecht the U.S. Supreme Court had decided improperly; dwelt upon Mountain Meadows and other murders; upon the meagreness of the laws of Utah; the “Mormon game” of incorporating cities and covering the country with them; the influence of Brigham Young; the power of the Mormon hierarchy; the summoning of the juries by Mormon bishops and many other slanders. Carey followed in the same strain, quoted Buchanan’s message, McGrorty’s evidence in contest case with Hooper and was generally bitter as usual. I could perceive the spirit of prejudice in some of the Com. Merritt in his argument said that the Assembly of Utah had passed another law on juries which the Gov. had vetoed; addressing me, he said “perhaps, you have not seen it.” I replied that I had the original. To this he sneeringly replied that he was not so favored, he had only a copy. Ward of Chicago, Ill., at this point to Merritt. “You were not near enough to the head of the Church to get the original.” The remark aroused me. I immediately arose and addressed the Chairman and the Com. and remarked that I had the original Bill sent to me because I was the Delegate in Congress from the Ter., and not because I was near the head of the Church. Ward muttered something in an undertone in reply. In the House afterwards when I spoke to him about this, he said he was irritated when he spoke as he did. It is a painful thing to <have to> sit and listen to our enemies’ lies, and feel the spirit of which they are possessed. Yet the Lord has blessed me in bearing this better than I could expect. I feel that we shall conquer them, and that their wicked schemes will be defeated. What a fate would be ours if these wretches were to get power over us! Maxwell a drunkard and a low, vile creature that would hesitate at nothing. Carey a smirking, smooth-talking (when it suits him) hypocrite, who if I am told the truth is a whoremaster; and Merritt, a rollicking, dressy, profane man whose chief boasts are to tell about his money and whose aim the number of women whom he knows, but not as a husband.

11 April 1874 • Saturday

House was in Session to-day (Saturday)

12 April 1874 • Sunday

Busy writing my reply to Merritt and Carey which I am to make before the Com. at the next meeting.

13 April 1874 • Monday

At the House

14 April 1874 • Tuesday

Was to have met with the Com. on Judiciary this morning but got word that they could not listen to arguments on our case till Friday.

15 April 1874 • Wednesday

At the House and busy

16 April 1874 • Thursday

At the House

17 April 1874 • Friday

Met with the House Com. on Judiciary to-day. Present: Gen. Butler of Mass., Poland of Vermont, Frye of Maine, Cessna of Penn., Tremain of New York, Eldredge of Wis., and at the close Potter of New York and White of Ala. I was granted 25 minutes to make an argument and Merritt and Carey the same time to reply. Upon some of the Com. my argument seemed to have an effect, others appeared to be made more determined to do something. Poland said but little, yet I could feel that he was determined on having legislation; Cessna was outspoken in favor of action against the people and Ward could not conceal his dislike of the Mormons. After the arguments were finished several asked me questions; I told them I would with pleasure answer everything I could. Ward was very anxious to draw me out on the doctrine of blood atonement. He asked me to explain it. I told him if the Com. could spare the time I would do so. They had not the time some said. Then I told him that I had just received a communication on that subject published by Elder John Taylor, a prominent man in the Church, which I would let him have to read. This satisfied him for awhile; but he <was not easy, he> again asked me to give a little explanation of our doctrine of “blood atonement.” I said we believed that a man who committed murder, adultery or seduction ought to be killed, had forfeited his life and that he ought to make it would be better for that man in eternity if he atoned for his crime with his blood in this life. “And,” said Ward, the Church out of mercy to the man takes his life?” Not at all, I replied. Such things I know are charged; but I defy any person to show a case where life has been taken by the Church. “But then,” said he, “how do you carry out the doctrine?” Probably, I answered, you believe that a murderers should be hung for their crimes; but because you believe this, does it follow that you consider it your duty to execute murderers? This quieted him. Others questioned me about juries finding against polygamy. I said I believed if the question were tried fairly, with a view to carrying the question up to the U. S. Supreme court, a Mormon jury would bring in a verdict. But it was asked, suppose it was not to carry the case up; suppose Brigham Young were to be tried for polygamy, what then? If they went into the jury box and did not excuse themselves, they would, I believed, render a verdict in accordance with law and fact, whatever they might be.

Carey and Merritt were annoyed at the result of this meeting. They plainly showed that they thought I had got the best of them. M. said to me that I was very specious and though I did not exactly suppress the truth still he conveyed the idea that I gave it a different coloring. I told him that I was a truthful man and told matters frankly as I understood them. I felt that the Lord had been with me at the meeting. I, however, did not think I had convinced an enemy of ours that we ought to be let alone. Strong arguments and reason only make such men more angry and determined to fight the work.

18 April 1874 • Saturday

At the Departments and at the House (Saturday)

20 April 1874 • Monday

Spent the day <yesterday> reading the Book of Mormon. Poland of Vermont introduced a resolution to-day with a preamble setting forth that there was a conflict between the Courts (Ter. & U.S.) in Utah and that the Judiciary Com. have be instructed to bring in a Bill and to report at any time. I spent the evening in visiting Eldredge <of Wis.> and White of Ala. on the Com. on Judiciary, giving them a recital of the condition of affairs in the Ter.

21 April 1874 • Tuesday

Our enemies were very busy and lively to-day. I always take that to be a sign of mischief. Carey was particularly busy talking with members. Poland brought in his amended Bill on Utah and asked that it be printed and re-committed. I keep busy talking to one and another. Had Judge Crounse of Nebraska, a warm friend of ours, talk, and with good effect too to Tremain of N.Y. In the evening I called upon Jewett of Ohio, a member of Com. on Judiciary and had a long and satisfactory talk with him.

22 April 1874 • Wednesday

Busy at the House

23 April 1874 • Thursday

White of Ala. told me he wanted to get a copy of jury law passed by Utah Assembly which Governor did not sign. Sent and had 50 copies printed for distribution. Poland took me into one of cloak rooms and read me <a new> section which he had prepared on subject of juries. It proposed to give Gov. authority to select two men <in each county> who with the sheriff should act as board of Commissioners to select <make list of> all names of citizens of U. S. who had resided 6 mo’s in co. and could read and write. From this list the co. clerk would write names on slips and after they were put in covered box and mixed U. S. Marshal should draw fairly the jurors. I told him it suited me better than his previous plan; but I was opposed to the whole bill. Merritt came and urged me to not to fight it. Judge Field of U. S. Supreme Court met me this morning and almost entreated me as the friend of Utah and my personal friend to let legislation go through validating past action of our Probate Courts. The U. S. Supreme Court was with holding decision for this to be done. I told him I could not do otherwise than oppose proposed legislation for they wanted to destroy us, &c. For farther particulars see letter to Pres. Young.

24 April 1874 • Friday

The House Judiciary Com. met and adopted Poland Bill as amended and instructed him to report it.

Bro. Dwyer arrived from Philadelphia to-day.

Wrote to President Young.

25 April 1874 • Saturday

Very busy all day at house. Poland gave notice that he should report his bill on Utah after morning hour on Tuesday.

26 April 1874 • Sunday

Bro. Dwyer left this morning for home. Reading most of day.

27 April 1874 • Monday

After the morning hour resolutions were brought into the House from the Senate on the death of Senator Charles Sumner, and the rest of the day was occupied in delivery of eulogies upon him. E. Rockwood Hoar, <of Mass.,> Lucius Q. C. Lamar of Miss., Godlove Orth of Ind., Dawes of Mass., Rainey of S. C. (colored); G. F. Hoar of Mass., Potter of N. Y., Nesmith of Oregon, Conger of Mich., and Phillips of Kansas delivered the eulogies. The most remarkable and effective was Lamar’s.

28 April 1874 • Tuesday

Busy doing all I could among members in preparation for the Bill to be reported by Poland today. Merritt spoke to me a number of times not to oppose it but let it pass. “It was a good bill, much better than we would get if I fought it,” &c. He got Kendall of Nevada to come and talk to me also. He said it was a fair bill &c. I told him if he thought so and was a Democrat then I had to unlearn my principles of democracy. It aimed at the destruction of all local government. <We had considerable talk;> He made me angry so I walked away. He expects to try cases at Salt Lake and wants to carry favor with the “ring.” Such men would, if they could, trample us under their feet to make money and to accomplish their ends, and yet all the time talking about how fair they want to be; they only want to do right, &c. Poland asked me if I wanted to speak on the Bill when it came up. I told him I certainly did. I understand Ward of Ill., and Burrows of Mich. are going to speak in favor of the Bill. Garfield occupied the entire day with his appropriation bill and Poland’s did not come up.

29 April 1874 • Wednesday

Snowing this morning and quite cold.

Went to the House trusting in the Lord to help us and to deliver us from our foes. Felt very weak and called upon the Lord to comfort and help me. Carey had a copy of the petition from the Anti-Mormon bar of Salt Lake distributed <laid> upon the desk of every member in expectation of the Bill coming up. After the morning hour Poland tried to get the floor, but on motion of Loughridge of Iowa the House went into Com. of the Whole on the Indian Appropriation Bill and the Speaker called Poland to the Chair. Our enemies again disappointed and I relieved. I saw the Speaker (Mr. Blaine) before the Session and he assured me if <when> the Bill should come up I should have the floor to speak upon it. In evening at the request of Mr. Gobright, agent of the Associated Press in this city, went to hear his lecture in rhyme on Progress with his edition of Nursery Rhymes, which were decidedly amusing. He got me to promise to go on this wise: He said he had been waited upon by some persons (Maxwell among them I inferred) to publish <ask him to send> extracts from Ann Eliza Webb’s lecture over the wires to the press throughout the country; The particular extracts were in reference to me and my family. He declined to do so. He was again requested to send a dispatch to the press of the country to the affect that Pres. Grant had expressed the opinion that the House of Rep’s owed it to itself to expel me, that it was a disgrace for me to be allowed to sit as member. This also he refused to send, assigning as a reason that he never heard Grant say so, and had only his informant’s word that he had said so. One of them, and from his imitation of his voice &c I took it to be Maxwell, said “I suppose if Cannon were to come to you and ask you to send something, you would do so.” He replied that Mr. Cannon had never asked him to send anything that he ought not to send. When he related this to me, which he did, as he said, confidentially, I thanked him. He said I must now be sure and attend his lecture, which I promised I would.

30 April 1874 • Thursday

Thursday Received letters from Bro. Joseph F. Smith in England, Bro. Staines, N. Y. and Gen. Kane. They were very cheering. The latter is indisposed, but promises to come to Washington as soon as he can. Just before adjournment this afternoon Hazleton of Wis. made the report of the Com. on Elections in my case. See printed report in Congressional Record. Mr. Pike and Mr. Harrison and Mr. Speer were indignant at Hazleton for the course he had taken. The former explained the matter to me for fear I should have feelings against him (in fact, they all told me how it had been arranged); he said Hazleton had been “snaky” and guilty of a breach of faith. Hazleton evidently intended to defame me and is in league I suspect with our enemies.

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April 1874, The Journal of George Q. Cannon, accessed May 18, 2024 https://www.churchhistorianspress.org/george-q-cannon/1870s/1874/04-1874