Tuesday, Feb. 1/87 Bro. H. B. Clawson came up by appointment last night to see President Taylor and myself and talk over the B. B. & C. M. C. affairs; he spent the day with us. We drew out a basis for an agreement with parties in San Francisco, whom we wished to engage with us in defending the property. Following is the basis as I dictated it to Bro. Nuttall, which President Taylor accepted. The basis of the agreement between the B. B. & C. M. Co. and the other parties is, that the B. B & C. M. Co shall give one quarter of the Stock—that is 25,000 shares—to the other party as an inducement for them to take hold of the pending suits, bear all the legal expenses connected therewith, for Attorneys, Experts, Witnesses, Reporters and court expences, and to carry the suits through to a successful issue or otherwise. When the fight is ended the B. B. & C. M. Co. will be the owners of three quarters of the property and the other parties will be the owners of one quarter of the property.
In the event of a compromise or a successful termination of the suits, the other parties have an option for sixty days thereafter to purchase the three fourths owned by the B. B. & C. M. Co for the sum of Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
If a compromise should be proposed it shall not be completed without the sanction of the present B. B. & C. M. Co.
We notice that it is stated that the Trustees whose names are proposed, are expected to receive each a certain amount of stock. If this should be agreed to they will of course receive it out of the twenty five thousand shares which are to be given to them, but prudence would suggest that they receive no more than is absolutely necessary.
In the proposed formation of the new company, and the attaching a higher value to the stock, care will have to be taken that no complication will arise therefrom that will be an injury to the B. B. & C. M. Co.—For instance, we propose to give an option for three hundred and fifty thousand dollars; but for some reason the new company may wish to have it appear that they have paid a higher price for the property. Care will have to be taken to see that this does not put the present owners of the property in a false position, or in one that they cannot explain and defend.
If it should be for any reason deemed better to issue New Stock in forming a New Company, every precaution should be taken to secure to the original company the three fourths of the whole, and to leave in their hands the undisputed possession of the property and its products and the control of its workings, with the power to retain the present management and employees, or change them as the case may be in the best interest of the property. The whole of the stock, excepting that mentioned above, which is to be given to the New Trustees, should be put in Escrow, and upon this point too great care cannot be taken to have the exact conditions of the agreement stated, so that no difficulty or dispute as to the terms can possibly arise hereafter.
In whatever arrangement is made between the B. B & C. M Co. and the other parties something more than a verbal assurance should be given that the pending and other suits will be prosecuted with vigor—and in whatever agreement is drawn up, it should be so stated.
It will be well in making the agreement to have some understanding respecting the ore that has been stolen by the Eureka Company out of the B. B. & C. M. Cos ground, pending the raising the one hundred and fifty thousand dollar bond.
If anything can be done also in getting them to help protect the one hundred and fifty thousand dollar bond, let it be kept in mind.
Get the financial standing of the proposed trustees, and the legal standing of the lawyers.
Geo. Q. Cannon
H. B. Clawson Esqr
Salt Lake City Febr. 1/87.
Attended to correspondence as usual. Bro. Clawson went back to night and expects to go to California on our business as quickly as possible.
Wednesday, Febr. 2/87. We received the accompanying handbill, offering a reward of $800.00/ for President Taylor and myself and a certain amount each for us separately. Listened to the reading of letters and dictated answers to them. <See April 16/87 page 227 for the withdrawal of this reward.>
[Picture of John Taylor] [Picture of George Q. Cannon]
JOHN TAYLOR. GEORGE Q. CANNON.
To be Paid for the Arrest of John Taylor
and George Q. Cannon.
The above Reward will be paid for the delivery to me, or
for information that will lead to the arrest of
President of the Mormon Church, and
George Q. Cannon,
His Counselor; or
$500 will be paid for Cannon alone, and
$300 for Taylor.
All Conferences or Letters kept strictly secret.
S. H. Gilson,
22 and 23 Wasatch Building, Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City, Jan. 31, 1887.1
Thursday, Febr. 3/87 We held our usual fast day meeting and enjoyed it very much. Afterward attended to correspondence. I hear from my brother Angus that he has undergone an operation for piles and is very sick at the present time.
Friday, Febr. 4/87 Attended to correspondence.
Saturday, Febr 5/87 Bro. F. S. Richards, since his return from Washington, has been exceedingly desirous to have an interview with us and has written two or three times <upon the subject.> He said, he had matters to communicate which he could not write. It was decided that he should come to Bro. Woolley’s last night and that I should go there and meet him before daylight this morning. Bro. Wilcken brought word that he was there, and Bro. Bateman and myself drove to Bro. Woolley’s about half past three oClock. Bro. Richards and myself spent the day together, and he described fully the condition of affairs in Washington. One point in particular he was very earnest about, and that was respecting our admission into the Union. He felt that the brethren, at Washington, should have some word sent them upon this question. He thought that we might, without committing ourselves or denying our principles, adopt a constitution, prohibiting polygamy and bigamy. He felt that if something of this kind was not done our position would be exceedingly critical. He gave me a letter from Mr. Geo. Ticknor Curtis, as [a] copy of which is appended:
Washington, D. C.
F. S. Richards Esq:
I cannot allow you to go home without being fully possessed of my views respecting the present and the probable future situation of affairs in regard to your people and their interests. You are at liberty not only to make these views known to your friends, in your discretion, but it is my wish that you should do so. I propose to give my convictions of the condition of public opinion and feeling in reference to the Mormons of Utah, and then to suggest what seems to me to be practicable and advisable under the circumstances.
The representation of the condition of public opinion that I shall make, will be only what I believe to be the truth. But you are not to infer from the picture that I draw, however dark and repulsive it may be, that I feel the smallest disposition to shrink from the defence of your people. You are perfectly well aware that I hold no position and stand in no relations that can render the condition of the public mind on this or any other subject a matter of serious personal consequence to me. But you may not be aware that from a very early age and all through my life, on a great variety of subjects, I have often been engaged in combating public opinion, whether local or general, whenever it was wrong, or I believed it to be wrong. This is one reason why I have never been in public life since I was eight and twenty. Previous to that time, I was in the Legislature of Massachusetts for two or three years; and one of the first and best things I ever wrote was an essay to maintain the duty of the State to indemnify the Roman Catholics for the destruction of a convent by a mob, which might have been prevented but for the negligence and virtual complicity of the local magistrates and police authorities. This act of justice I advocated in the teeth of an overwhelming public prejudice against the Roman Catholic religion. I had no success: but I discharged my conscience and fixed my own character for life as a man of independence. Recently, an old schoolmate, who is a very distinguished person, commenced a note to me in these words:
“Although we have differed in opinion ever since we were “schoolmates, now nearly sixty years ago, nothing has ever occurred “to lessen my respect for the thorough manliness and independence “of your character.”
You must excuse this egotistic reference to my own character: but it is a character so fixed and unchangeable, that to encounter any amount of public excitement or prejudice is to me the most natural thing in the world, and when engaged in it, I feel as if I were in my proper element.
You are not to infer either that I would advise or do anything whatever to promote, any settlement or compromise of the present troubles that would humiliate your leading men, or require them to renounce a iota of their religious convictions; or that I would be a party to any plan which would involve an intervention of the civil power between the Mormon Church and its hierarchy and the individual members and coreligionists of the denomination of Latter-day Saints. I know perfectly well how futile it would be to expect the Presidency of the Church and the Twelve Apostles, for example, to step forward and say to those who have contracted plural marriages, you must renounce the past and make promises for the future. I believe that I understand the theory of your religion: and I shall never make the smallest effort to promote any project or means of solving the difficulty, that would require your Church, in its corporate capacity, or any of its authorities or officers, to renounce one iota of religious belief, or to advise their fellow believers to give up a single article of their religion. But if an issue out of the present deplorable and perilous situation can be found, which you can embrace without humiliation, without any sacrifice of principle, I shall not hesitate to advise its careful consideration, by your people on the one side and the President of the United States on the other. I speak of the President of the United States not as an individual, but as the representative of the American people, for reasons which will be apparent before I close this letter.
I am perfectly convinced that public opinion has become so crystallized on what is called “the Mormon question,” that it is idle to expect to modify or change it. I have never known anything in the course of my life that presented such a phenomenon. In the ante-bellum period, when the whole country was so much excited about slavery, there were great and powerful States interested in defending it, which could combine for that purpose: and throughout the North there were at least large masses of people who, before actual war had begun cordially and heartily stood by the South. But you are a mere handful of people: 150,000 against 50 or 60 millions: and those millions have made up their minds that polygamy shall be exterminated, per fas aut nefas. The people of the United States do not care what civil or religious rights they violate or put in jeopardy, in accomplishing this object. Reasoning, so far as they reason at all, that the Mormons themselves make necessary the severest repressive measures, they are deaf as adders to all efforts to convince them that they are misled by persons who mean to widen the breach between you and the country until it shall be impassable by any bridge that can be devised.
I am convinced that this is the condition of the public mind, not only from a wide observation, but from having tested it for nearly a year. There is no better index of what the public temper is than the press. On almost any subject, the conductors of widely circulated and prosperous newspapers, are willing to open their columns to discussion: and it not infrequently happens that it is for their interest to have all sides of a subject represented in their columns, when the matter offered is not adverse to their party tactics or the interests of particular candidates. But on the so called “Mormon question,” I have made effort after effort, in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and other places to get a hearing in my own person and over my own signature, and it has been utterly in vain. Some of the persons to whom I applied have been personal friends of mine: friends of many years. The answer, without one exception, has been the same: “The public mind on that subject is fixed and fastened, and we must decline to touch it.” When I have urged that all I wanted was to be allowed to explain what the civil power can rightfully do and what it can not, I have been told that it is utterly useless to try to make men comprehend the distinction:– they don’t want to comprehend it.
Again:– The Tucker Bill passed the House of Representatives the other day by an overwhelming vote. In some respects it is a worse Bill for you than the Edmunds Bill. You are quite cognizant of its features, and I need not discuss them. It will pass the Senate, substancially as it comes from the House, unless Mr. Edmunds shall say, as I have no belief that he will say, that if he can’t have his own bill he will not have any. Looking ahead, as I feel compelled to do, I am bound to assume that this bill will be sent to the President. A veto message might be framed that ought to kill it, but I am as sure as I can be of anything that no veto will stop it: but it will again pass both Houses by the votes requisite to make it a law.
All this may seem very strange to your friends in Utah: and so it is, passing strange. But in the first place, they must understand how public men in both Houses act and talk on this subject. Individuals among them say – “true, there are provisions in this of very doubtful constitutionality, but no matter, let them go, and let the Courts pass upon them: the responsibility will be at last on the Supreme Court of the United States.” Now I have as much confidence in that Court as a prudent man ought to have, but I have not enough to enable me to say that I believe it to be morally certain, or even highly probable, that it will stand up against a popular pressure such as I know will be brought to bear upon it in the case of you Mormons. I have seen too many proofs that even those Judges, notwithstanding they hold their offices by the best of all judicial tenures, can [not] be relied on under all circumstances to resist a unanimous and imperious public sentiment. Although it is perfectly true that constitutional law ought to have a steady and strict interpretation, it is also true, unfortunately, that it sometimes becomes exceedingly flexible. I assume that this Bill will be passed into a law: that the suits for despoiling your people of their Church property will be commenced and prosecuted and that you will be involved in harassing litigation: that all your people will be disfranchised: that all men who have heretofore married plural wives and who do not take some steps to terminate that relationship will be prosecuted for polygamy: that you will be overrun with officers in whose appointments you will have no voice and that measures will be in full swing for subjecting the majority of the people to the domination of the minority. In other words, you will be driven to the wall and you will have to consider whether there is any thing that can be done to save yourselves from being crushed, without any sacrifice of your religious convictions.
There is another thing which your friends in Utah ought to consider. They are not in the midst of this great public opinion. They do not see it, realize it, feel its pressure, understand its temper or its swift and unreasoning progress to tyranny and oppression. They are far away from it. They are surrounded at home by enemies who know much more about this temper of the American people than they do, who know how to deepen its prejudices and help it on to extreme measures, and who have the ear of men of influence in Congress. Your friends, must, therefore, and if they are wise men they will, accept the representations of persons, who, like myself, have means of guaging the public’s mind and can have no motive but your good and safety to guide them.
The question then is whether anything can be done. I have laid it down as a fixed postulate, that nothing can be thought of that will admit of any intervention of the civil power between your religious teachers and your leading men and the individual members of your religious body, in the way of requiring the former to say to the latter that religious belief must be modified. I understand that the doctrine of your Church is that plural marriage is a matter between the conscience of the individual believer in the revalation that came through Joseph Smith, and God Almighty. I understand that where the individual believes that his eternal salvation depends on his fidelity to what was taught by that revelation, he will and must suffer any thing that human power can inflict, rather than renounce either his belief that plural marriage was ordained by Divine authority for him, or renounce any duties which flow from that belief. But then I understand also that the individual believer is his own judge of what his conduct shall be, and that his Church does not undertake to control him.
Suppose then that the President of the United States were to send a message to the next Congress, at the opening of the Session, recommending the passage of an enabling act authorizing the people of Utah to choose a convention of Delegates for framing a State Constitution: making the basis of suffrage for the Convention all adult males in the territory able to read and write: on condition that the Constitution forever prohibit polygamy: the Constitution to be submitted for adoption to the same adult male voters: and pledging the public faith of the United States to the admission of the new State, if it should appear that the condition had been complied with.
Two questions arise, on this suggestion:
1st What religious obstacle could there be to this?
2nd. What would it be necessary to give the President of the United States, in advance, by way of assurance that the Constitution would have a free and open chance of being adopted by a majority of the qualified voters of Utah?
1st As to any religious obstacle: Every individual Mormon who was a qualified voter, would have to determine for himself whether he would vote for or against the Constitution. If he voted for it, he would not sacrifice his belief that in marrying more than one wife heretofore he had obeyed a Devine command. If he voted against the Constitution, he would record his vote against the right of society to prohibit what he believes was commanded by <the> Divine law in his case: but as a member of civil society he would have to submit his future social conduct to the rule of the majority of his fellow citizens on this as on all other subjects. In neither case, would he sacrifice that individual belief which lies between his own conscience and his God. In neither case, would he have to change or surrender his belief as to the conditions of his eternal salvation. In regard to his future relations to the women whom he married before the Constitution was adopted, the legitimation of children: all matters of inheritance, the law of marriage, and other matters everything of this kind, might by the Constitution be left to the State legislature, and might be safely left to that body.
2nd As to assurances to be given to the President of the United States, which would render it re[a]sonably safe for him to make the necessary recommendation to Congress:– All that I can conceive of his expecting would be that it should be made reasonably certain to him that every qualified voter would be left free to vote on the Constitution according to his own judgment. Here I do not see how there could be any difficulty: because I do not suppose that President Taylor or any other official of the Church, would take the responsibility of saying to the individual voters that they must not vote for such a Constitution, or that they would imperil their salvation by voting for it. This, as I understand, would be contrary to the theory of the religion, and to the practice under it: because both the theory and practice are – that while the revelation has given the command, under certain circumstances, it has addressed the command to the individual conscience: and that unlike the Romish Church, there is no power of excommunication lodged in your Church, to step in between the individual conscience and its God, in this particular matter of plural marriages. Like most Protestant churches and religious bodies, your Church claims and exercises the power to dicipline its members in cases of immorality, but not in matters of religious belief.
In short I understand, that the individual believer is his own judge of what his conduct shall be in this matter of marriage, and that the Church does not dictate or prescribe to him what he shall do. All that it teaches is, as I understand it, that a certain command was given, under certain circumstances, but that whether the individual shall accept that command and carry it out in his life, is for him to determine.
This being so, the inquiry now is, whether, in the presence of an overwhelming external force, there is anything that can be done, not to affect the individual conscience, but to open the way to escape from the consequences of that external force, without any sacrifice of the principle that every Mormon must adhere to.
I can see that there is such a way; It is by treating this whole matter of polygamy as a subject of political arrangement just as you would have to treat it if you were now a State of this Union, or as if you were an independent nation, with all the untrammelled power of such an independent community.
It seems to me what I have sketched is the true solution of this great difficulty: and that if this is not the solution, there is nothing but extreme suffering and final ruin before your people. I am not, naturally, an alarmist or a pessimist, and Heaven knows that I can have but one desire, which is to see a peaceful and happy end of this matter, to see Utah brought into the Union as a State in harmony with the whole country, and on an equal footing with every other State. If this cannot be brought about, I shudder to think of the atrocities that I am obliged to expect.
I believe I have said nothing that ought to shock any one, in suggesting a political solution of a matter that had its origin in a peculiar religious belief, and that no one can misunderstand me. By a political arrangement I mean to suggest that, and that only, to which all men must submit in civil society, after every man has had and exercised his just right of voting. I have said nothing about including women in the basis of suffrage, because their inclusion is not necessary to the safety of the Mormon population: and because it will probably be inexpedient to complicate the subject with the question of female suffrage. This, however, is a matter of detail, which does not touch the fundamental question of whether there can be any solution to the great problem that will not require of your people any sacrifice of their individual religious beliefs.
I shall await with anxiety to hear how these suggestions strike your friends. In the mean time, they can rest absolutely assured that the fact of my having written this letter will not be allowed to transpire.
Yours very sincerely
Geo. Ticknor Curtis.
As well as I can learn, the Committee of Conference have had no meeting yet on the Bill, but I think it will pass the Senate with some modifications on which the Senate conferees will insist and to which the House conferees will agree. But I remain of opinion that the measure will be a very bad one, and that there is urgent necessity for a full consideration by your friends of the suggestions made in the letter which you took home with you.
I had a pretty full conversation this morning with Senator Hoar. He told me that he voted against the Edmunds Bill, and that he had not been able to see his way clear on the general subject. I then developed to him my plan of a State Constitution, and we discussed it, he raising some of the objections which lie on the surface, but which I told him I was convinced could be obviated. I did not say to him that I had taken steps to ascertain what could be done, if anything, but finding him disposed to learn, I gave him some information that I think was new to him, as to the nature of your religious belief.
Yesterday, I read to Mr. Caine my letter to you, he having called on me in relation to a note he had received from that wise person M. Mowry. I thought it due to Mr. Caine to take him into my confidence so far as to let him know what I had written to you. He concured in it, and said that he hoped it would receive full consideration among your leading men. I feel quite sure that he will not speak of my letter to anyone here.
Yesterday I saw the Attorney General, He said that he did not expect the President would refer the Bill to him, for an opinion, but that if he did so he would inform me. Without waiting for this, I shall try to get an interview with the President if the Bill passes the Senate.
No opinion has yet been given in Mr. Snow’s case, but I think we may expect one next Monday. The Court will continue to sit through next Monday and Tuesday, to finish the telephone cases.
Please let me hear as soon as you can what is thought of my letter, and also whether I can receive the facts in regard to President Taylors personal situation in respect to the members of his family.
F. S. Richards Esqr
Geo. Ticknor Curtis.
Salt Lake City.
Wednesday Feby 9, 1887.
My dear President:
The inclosed letter from Judge Curtis (which please return) will explain itself in connection with his lengthy letter of the 23d ult. which I handed to President Cannon for your perusal. The judge is very deeply impressed with the idea that our only temporal salvation lies in Statehood, and he thinks we could, without any violation of conscience, make such a concession as is contemplated by the Scott amendment. He is sanguine that nothing short of this will put a stop to the outrageous and cruel persecutions which are being inflicted upon us.
Judge Curtis says that never in his life has he seen such a determined, bitter and unrelenting public opinion as that which prevails against us, and from what I have seen at Washington, I am led to believe that he does not overstate the fact. Nobody wants to hear anything in our favor and there was an almost universal feeling of relief among Congressmen when the Bill passed the House and they thought themselves free from further trouble concerning us.
Had it not been for the Scott amendment we could never have arrested the attention of members of Congress long enough to affect any arrangement for the defeat of the bill, and even now, if our friends there could advocate it, the chances of success would be materially increased. Their present effort <is> to defeat the bill entirely and they will not leave any stone unturned to accomplish it, but failing in that the amendment would afford something to fall back upon, if we could accept it.
There are several other points connected with this important matter which I would like to write, but time will not permit now.
Hoping and praying that you may be led by the Spirit of the Lord to decide this and all other matters in accordance with His mind and will, and in the way that would be most beneficial to His people, I remain, as ever,
Yours with affectionate regard,
President John Taylor
F. S. Richards.
Our conversation covered a wide range. In the evening Bro. Lorin Woolley carried me back to our quarters.
Sunday, Febr. 6/87 Held meeting as usual and partook of the Sacrament.
Monday, Febr. 7/87 Attended to correspondence as usual.
Tuesday, Febr. 8/87 Attended to correspondence as usual. The joyful news reached us to day that the U. S. Supreme Court had decided in favor of Bro. Lorenzo Snow being released on habeas corpus and pronouncing the judgment of the Lower Court in regard to the segregation cases illegal. My feelings of pleasure at this news <on Brother Snow’s account> are inexpressible.
Wednesday, Febr 9/87 Attended to correspondence. Being the the anniversary of Bro. Roueche’s birthday, a turkey was killed and lots of good things cooked and we enjoyed ourselves. In the afternoon Bro. Roueche commenced sinking a well, Bros. Wilcken, Bateman and Barrell assisting.
Thursday, Febr 10/87 Attended to correspondence as usual. The annexed letter was received from Bro. F. S. Richards, and President Taylor and myself had some conversation upon the question of seeking admission as a State. He solicited my views, and I said, that if Congress would allow us to put into the Constitution the words “bigamy and polygamy” and permit us to put our own construction upon these phrases, I would have no objections to such a constitution or to it being voted for and adopted. But I thought it useless to discuss the question in this way. We are opposed to bigamy as practiced in the world; also to polygamy, or many marriages, for this covers polyandry as well as polygamy. They would never consent, however, to let us construe these words. They meant them to apply to our system of marriage and would insist upon their own definition of these terms. I thought it would be most dangerous for us to attempt to do anything of this character; for as I had said to Bro. Richards upon the subject, they would either push us too far after we started, or we would have to settle back and refuse to take one step further, and that of course would make our condition worse than ever, as they would see that we were making play on the words “bigamy and polygamy.” Another view to be taken of this question, I said, is this: suppose we were a State with a Constitution prohibiting bigamy and polygamy, and we made laws defining civil marriages and punishing polygamy and bigamy as we understand these offences, but making no law that would reach and punish our plural system of marriages, the treatment which the South received after the war and the manner in which the Southren States were dealt with by Congress, ought not to be forgotten. If malcontents enough arose in our State to arouse Congress against us, Congress would not scruple to treat us as it did the South, and our State organization would be of little benefit to us; for they would seize any pretext for dealing in this manner with us, especially so good a one as our neglect to punish persons guilty of plural marriage. President Taylor’s views were also strongly expressed against our taking any such step as had been proposed in order to get into the Union, and we both decided that we could not favor that plan. I suggested that perhaps the Lord might be permitting us to be put in this position to see whether we would stand up and take all the consequences of obeying His commandments without faltering or whether we would flinch. We both felt that we could trust Him and He would not desert us if we maintained our devotion to the principles of the Gospel. Bro. Roueche and the brethren succeeded in putting down the hydraulic pipe, with which he drilled the hole, to the depth of one hundred and fifty two feet, and the casing of the well, which is one and a quarter inch pipe, to the depth of one hundred and twenty eight feet. A strong stream of water rushed to the surface thick with sand, which gave us all great pleasure to witness. This method of sinking a well is very expeditious. I do not think that the five were engaged more than seven hours in arranging the apparatus, sinking the well and taking down the apparatus, and including the cost of the pipe, thirty dollars would probably cover the entire cost.
Friday, Febr. 11/87 Listened to the reading of letters and dictated answers to them. We heard that Marshal Dyer and deputies and a crowd of low scurvy fellows, numbering altogether probably thirty or forty, surrounded the Gardo House premises, Historian’s Office, President’s Offices and the Tithing Office block, this morning at about three oClock, and made a thorough search of all the premises for the purpose of finding President Taylor and myself. They were very particular in the Gardo House in searching for places of concealment. Besides these buildings they searched the Bee Hive and the Lion Houses, the Deseret News Office, all the Tithing Offices with the barns, Stables and out houses, without finding anyone whom they wanted. Not content with this, they searched the Tabernacle and the Temple Block, including the Endowment House. I was very much incensed when I heard they had been admitted to the Endowment House without any remonstrance. We have not admitted members of the Church to that building, unless they came properly recommended; and it has been required of them who entered it, to take of[f] their shoes; but these wretches were permitted to enter without difficulty. I feel to condemn the party or parties who permitted this. The marshal should have been warned against entering it, and told it was one of our sacred places; and if he should still have persisted in entering, he should have been put to the necessity of breaking in by violence.
Saturday Febr. 12/87 Attended to correspondence as usual. We learned to day that Tucker, of Virginia, had been called away from Washington, by the death of a daughter, and that the Speaker had selected Mr. Hammond, of Georgia, to take his place on the Conference Committee.
Sunday, Febr. 13/87. We held our meeting as usual and partook of the Sacrament. A dispatch from Bro. J. T. Caine to the following effect was received:
“I learn Committee has agreed substantially upon the Edmund Tucker Bill” Afterwards telegraphed that the changes agreed upon had been telegraphed to the News. I clip them from the News[.] They are as follows.
CHANGES MADE BY THE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE.2
Our special from Washington conveys important intelligence in relation to the progress of the pending Congressional legislation against the liberties of the people of Utah. Some of the worst features have been eliminated by the conferees, but no amount of cutting short of obliteration can render it other than a hideous and unjustifiable measure.
That the reader may clearly understand the nature of the work of the committee, so far as it has proceeded, we present the changes indicated by the dispatch in a simplified shape. The portions of the bill stricken out (whether by or without substitution) are printed in small type.
Following is the section of the Senate (Edmunds) bill substituted for Section 9 of the Tucker amendment:
Sec. 19.—That whoever commits adultery shall be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary not exceeding three years; and when the act is committed between a married woman and a man who is unmarried, both parties to such act shall be deemed guilty of adultery; and when such act is committed between a married man and a woman who is unmarried, the man shall be deemed guilty of adultery.
Here is the dead section supplanted by the foregoing:
Sec. 9.—That when sexual intercourse is committed between a married person of one sex and an unmarried person of the other sex, both persons shall be deemed guilty of adultery, and shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by fine not exceeding $100, or by imprisonment not exceeding three months, or both, in the discretion of the court.
The following sections of the House bill are stricken out:
Sec. 11.—That the marriage relation between one person of either sex and more than one person of the other sex shall be deemed polygamy. Polygamy or any polygamous association or cohabitation between the sexes is hereby declared to be a felony, and shall be punished by confinement in the penitentiary for a term of not less than one year nor more than five years; and the continuance of the polygamy or polygamous association or cohabitation between the sexes after any indictment or other legal proceeding is commenced against any person, shall be deemed a new offense, punishable as aforesaid.
Sec. 13.—That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to repeal the act of Congress entitled “An Act to amend section fifty-three hundred and fifty-two of the Revised Statutes of the United States, in reference to bigamy, and for other purposes,” approved March 22d, 1882; but the provisions of said act, except in so far as they are repugnant to this act, shall be applicable to this act as if herein expressly mentioned; and the power given to the President by the sixth section of said act shall be applicable to the offenses created by this act.
The following section of the Senate bill has been adopted as part of the report of the committee in place of the section of the same number of the House bill:
Sec. 16. That it shall be the duty of the Attorney-General of the United States to cause such proceedings to be taken in the Supreme Court of the Territory of Utah as shall be proper to dissolve the said corporation and pay the debts and to dispose of the property and assets thereof according to law. Said property and assets, in excess of the debts and the amount of any lawful claims established by the court against the same, shall escheat to the United States, and shall be taken, invested and disposed of by the Secretary of the Interior, under the direction of the President of the United States, for the benefit of common schools in said Territory.
Here is the section of the House bill discarded by the conferees, the one immediately foregoing being substituted:
Sec. 16.—That it shall be the duty of the Attorney-General of the United States to cause such proceedings to be taken in the Supreme Court of the Territory of Utah as shall be proper to declare void and to dissolve the said corporations mentioned in the preceding section and in the 14th section of this act, and pay the debts and to dispose of the property and assets thereof according to law and equity.
The following section has been stricken out by the conference committee:
Sec. 17.—That the eleventh paragraph of the third section of the act entitled “An act in relation to courts and judicial officers of the Territory of Utah,” approved June 23d, 1874, be, and the same is hereby amended, so as to read as follows: “A writ of error from the Supreme Court of the United States to the Supreme Court of the said territory shall lie in all criminal cases where the accused shall have been sentenced to capital punishment, or convicted of bigamy, polygamy or unlawful cohabitation, or of any offense under the act entitled “An act to amend section fifty-three hundred and fifty-two of the Revised Statutes of the United States in reference to bigamy, and for other purposes,” approved March 22nd, 1882, or under this act, whether the judgment complained of was rendered before or after the approval of this act, and a writ of error from the Supreme Court of the United States to the Supreme Court of the Territory, or an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States from the Supreme Court of the Territory shall likewise lie and be allowed, or to any decree or judgment rendered in any proceeding or suit authorized under the sixteenth section of this act. And the Supreme Court of the United States is authorized to speed all cases arising under this section and dispose of them as promptly as possible without regard to their place upon the docket: Provided, however, that the writ of error or appeal hereby allowed shall be taken and prosecuted within the period limited in like cases from judgments and decrees of the Circuit Courts of the United States, or within one year from the approval of this act.
In the following section unimportant verbal changes are made, and the proviso (in small type) is stricken out:
Sec. 18.—That all religious societies, sects or denominations shall have the right to have and to hold, through trustees appointed by the several county courts of the Territory, so much real property for the erection of houses of worship, and for the residence of minister, priest or other religious teacher, as shall be needed for the convenience and use of the several congregations of such religious society, sect, or denomination;
Provided, however, That such real property shall not exceed in an incorporated town or city, ten acres, or elsewhere fifty acres. Nor shall any such society, sect or denomination have and hold, except in the value of buildings erected on said real property as aforesaid, and in the value of the personal property used in religious worship, or for the comfort of those assembled therefor, a greater amount in money value than fifty thousand dollars.
Section 22 is in relation to dower. The committee has stricken out its last clause, which is as follows:
(i) The term lawful wife, wherever used in this statute, shall be held to mean, in all cases, of Mormon or plural marriages the first wife, and such wife only shall be entitled to dower under this act on the death of her husband.
Section 23 relates to redistricting of the Territory and apportionment of representation in the Legislative Assembly. In the House bill, as it went into the hands of the conferees, the duty in those particulars devolved upon the Governor, Secretary and U. S. Marshal. The Utah Commission are substituted for the Marshal.
The wording of the test oath section has been subjected to some verbal changes, but remains substantially the same. It is here given without the changes, intelligence as to their character in detail not having been yet received:
Sec. 25.—That every male person over 21 years of age resident in the Territory of Utah shall appear before the clerk of the probate court of the county wherein he resides and register himself by his full name, with his age, place of business, his status, whether single or married, and if married, the name of his lawful wife, and shall take and subscribe an oath to be filed in said court stating the facts aforesaid and that he will support the Constitution of the United States, and will faithfully obey the laws thereof and especially will obey the law aforesaid, approved March twenty-second, 1882, and this act in respect of the crimes in said acts defined and forbidden; and that he will not directly or indirectly aid, abet, counsel or advise any other person to commit the same. No person not so registered, or who shall have been convicted of any crime under this Act or under “An Act to amend Section 5352 of the Revised Statutes of the United States in reference to bigamy and for other purposes,” approved March 22d, 1882, or who shall be a polygamist, or shall associate or cohabit polygamously with persons of the other sex, or who shall not take and subscribe the oath aforesaid, shall be entitled to vote in any election in the Territory, or be capable of jury service or to hold any office of trust or emolument in the Territory.
The following sections (26 and 27) have been stricken out, with the exception that the President appoints all probate judges:
Sec. 27.—That the Council of the Territory of Utah shall hereafter consist of thirteen members, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, every two years, the members of which shall be citizens resident in said Territory, one to be selected from each district of the Territory, according to the appointment provided for in the 23d section of this act.
Sec. 24.—That all judges of the county and probate courts and selectmen of each county of said Territory, and all clerks of said courts, justices of the peace, sheriffs, constables and other Territorial, county, district and municipal officers, shall hereafter be appointed as follows, and all laws to the contrary are hereby repealed:
The President shall have power to nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint all judges and selectmen of the county and probate courts for the term of two years. The said courts shall appoint their clerks, recorders and registers of deeds, wills and other papers by law required to be recorded.
The Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Council, shall have power to appoint all justices of the peace, sheriffs, constables and all other county, district and municipal officers of the Territory not herein otherwise provided for.
The Territorial law remains in force in relation to the appointment or election of all other officers, with the exception of the Commissioner of Common Schools (provided for in Section 28 of the bill). That functionary is to be appointed by the Supreme Court of the Territory.3
Bro John W. Young also sent following dispatch:
“In private interview yesterday President [Cleveland] asks, if he interests himself what can he expect from us towards satisfying public clamor before another Congress. Says Enabling Act cannot pass this session, therefore impracticable because of delay. Seems to like Scott amendment. Thinks that cannot pass now, but suggests it could be carried through without. Profoundly I appreciate difference, but believe we can get protection better in a constitution framed by us than is possible under any act intended as coercive measure. Dare not go further for statehood without receiving from you definite instruction.” President Taylor and myself talked the question over fully, and sent Bro. Young the following dispatch:
“Can not change attitude on main question. No surrender of principle. We can not take test oath. Have it removed. Contend for right of appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court. Cannot Zane and Dickson be removed.” Bro Jacob Roueche was sent to town with this dispatch, which was forwarded to Bro. Young in cipher over the signature of Bro. James Jack. After we came to this decision I felt greatly relieved.
Monday, Febr. 14/87 Attended to business as usual. Bro. Wilcken informed us this morning that Sister Sophia Taylor, one of President Taylor’s wives, had had another stroke, and was in a dying condition, being speechless, unable to move her body or to swallow. I felt to symphatise very much with President Taylor. His condition illustrates the malignity of this persecution. Hunted for, with a reward for his apprehension, he finds it out of his power to visit his wife in this great hour of trial. Himself an aged venerable man, whose life has been one of singular purity and goodness, and who, at the passage of the Edmunds law, placed himself in the position not to openly violate it, his wives being all aged women, and yet his liberty is sought for by those wicked wretches as though he was one of the greatest malefactors. Our correspondence was very heavy to day. I had appointed a meeting with my sons Abraham and Frank at Bro. J. W. Woolley’s this evening, and Bro. Bateman took me there. I had a full conversation with the boys on the business for which I went to see them, and returned to our quarters about a quarter to two in the morning.
Tuesday, Febr. 15/87 These days are full of the memories of that which occurred a year ago with me. Twelve months ago on the 12th I was arrested on the C. P. train. Twelve months ago yesterday I was in the custody of the sheriff at Winnemmuca; and twelve months to-day, Marshal Ireland arrived and took me back on the train. I am profoundly thankful to the Lord for the degree of freedom I now enjoy, which is in such striking contrast with the position I then was in. It is a most unpleasant feeling to be in the hands of one’s enemies. Attended to correspondence as usual. The following dispatch was received from Bro. John W. Young:
“Unnecessary to surrender anything. Question requiring answer is, if President (Cleveland) interests himself in our behalf and offers terms embracing Penrose’s definition of Scott amendment, can we give any assurance it will be accepted by us politically, before next Congress. If we arrive at any understanding it is absolutely necessary to give answer clearly and definitely. Doing all possible to remove test oath and preserve appeal. Impolitic to do more than already done for Zane and Dickson’s removal until March fourth.”
I felt desirous that President Taylor should see and hear himself the views of Bros Penrose and F. S. Richards upon this question. They had told them to me very fully and I had reported them to him, besides bringing
bringing letters from them on the subject; but I felt that he should hear them himself, so that it could not be said hereafter that they had been denied the privilege of expressing their views or that they had been imperfectly communicated to him. He consented to meet them, and an arrangement was made for Bro. Jacob Roueche to go in on horseback and bring them out to Bro Barnes’ at Kaysville, where we would meet them and also Bro. Clawson, who had returned from California. President Taylor expressed the wish that they should come out as early as possible; he did not want to be out late at night; and Bro. Jacob Roueche was instructed to leave town not later than four oClock if possible, and he was impressed to use all care to not be observed or followed. Bro. Clawson was also cautioned to the same effect in writing. The same evening President Taylor and myself, accompanied by Bros Nuttall, Wilcken and Bateman arrived at Bro. Barnes’s at half past eight. In a short time Bros Clawson, C. W. Penrose and F. S. Richards arrived from the City. After a short desultory conversation the business of the evening was entered upon. I stated to the brethren my anxiety for them to see President Taylor to lay their views before him, that they might be understood properly by him. Bros Penrose and Richards then at some length and with considerable fullness and plausibility presented their views on the situation, and urged action to be taken by us looking to the framing of a constitution prohibiting bigamy and polygamy so as to obtain a State organization. There was one point which they presented that I thought <entitled> to some consideration, namely, that unless we took this opportunity ourselves, our enemies would take it. I could see that the question presented with this point is, whether we had better consent to a constitution which would punish us, and under which we would have the framing of our own laws and the inflicting of our own punishments, or whether we would let our enemies take possession of the entire machinery of government and enact such laws as they might choose to crush us into the earth and inflict every kind of punishment upon us. Connected with this also is the fact, that people, once deprived of their franchise and emasculated politically, are likely to remain in that condition for a long time. They are no longer a power, but are reduced to complete nonentities in the State and are helpless to defend themselves. President Taylor after hearing all they had to say, requested them to put their views in writing. A number of questions were asked by myself personally, for I was desirous to call out their views so that President Taylor would have a full understanding of them. I requested them to set forth in their letter, what hope there was for believing that if we did this, it would be accepted by the nation or its representatives or chief executive. Also how we could do this consistently, without sacrificing principle or stultifying ourselves. We separated about half past eleven. Bro. Clawson accompanied us to our lodging and the other two brethren returned to the City. The road we traveled to night was as bad a road as I ever traveled, and we went at a snail’s pace both ways.
Wednesday, Febr. 16/87 Bro. Clawson submitted the contract which he had brought from California for our acceptance. The points are that we give certain parties in California one quarter of our stock in the B. B. & C. M. Co. They form a new Company to be called the Bullion, Beck and California Mining Co. and they being directors of the Company. Ex-Governor G. C. Perkins being President and Alexander Badlam, Secretary. They organize the Company and issue 100,000 shares of stock, 75,000 of which we receive and they retain 25,000. We have the management of the entire property and the output of the mine, and out of this we pay the expences of the lawsuits. They do all in their power in making the fight and bear their own personal expences in going to Washington or coming here and agree to secure counsel at a lower figure than we can. Mr. A. Badlam gives his note for $400,00000/, payable in gold coin, for which he is to receive at the end of fifteen months, or within sixty days after the compromise or closing of the suits, our 75,000 shares of stock. If he does not choose to pay the note, we retain the stock; that is, he has, what is called an option in this matter. The case stands thus: we give these people a quarter of the mine for the use of their names and their reputation and their ability to make the fight against our opponents, they making the fight with vigor and paying their own expenses of travel. I have felt that some such plan as this would have to be adopted to save any of the property, as our opponents are determined to steal it and hope to do so under cover of the prejudice which exists against us, because we are Mormons. By this movement we sell the property to these people, we are no longer known in the matter, outwardly at least, and they are the proprietors. President Taylor seems pleased with the proposition, and it was decided to accept it. Bro. Clawson took the contract in with him to submit it to our attorney, and if he should think it a good contract, legally, Bro. Clawson is to take steps to have it closed. He returned to the City this evening. Attended to correspondence as usual.
Thursday, Febr 17/87 Listened to the reading of letters and dictated answers to them. We received yesterday a letter from Bp. Preston in reply to a letter which we wrote to him, asking him, (inasmuch as he and Bishop Burton had probably thought upon the subject,) to furnish a list of persons from whom a counselor to him could be selected, and to put the names down in the order in which they would stand in their minds. The names they gave were, J. C. Cuttler, W. Budge, E. M. Weiler and Elias Morris. We selected Bro. Cuttler. My mind for some days has rested upon him and when President Taylor asked me my views, I told him that if Bro. Cutler did not have too much business as County Clerk and with his own private business affairs, I thought he would be suitable. Bro. Preston was requested to converse with him upon the subject, and if he was willing to take upon him the calling and devote his time and attention to it, for him and Bro. Burton to ordain him to the office. Before doing so, however, he was told to notify the President of the quorum to which he now belongs of the intention to make him his counselor. The other brethren named are exellent men; but Bro. Budge, at present holds a position of great importance as President of Bear Lake Stake, from which he cannot well be spared and when we canvassed names for Presiding Bishop, his name was prominently before us for that office.
Friday, Febr. 18/87 Attended to correspondence. The report of the Conference Committee on the Tucker Bill, we hear, has been adapted by the House of Representatives by a vote of 202 in favor and 40 against.
Saturday, Febr. 19/87 After listening to the correspondence this morning President Taylor and myself took up the subject of the letters we had received of late upon framing a constitution. We received yesterday a report from Bro. John W. Young of the sentiments of the Members of the House upon the Tucker Bill and the Scott amendment. He had taken pains to have every Member interviewed, and with the exception of about half a dozen, all had expressed themselves and each one’s sentiments followed his name. A clearer presentation of the animosity and hostility and blind ignorance which exists in the minds of public men upon our question, could not be given than is presented in his statement of their views in brief. There is scarcely a kindly sentiment to be found in the whole: a few do refrain from expressing open hostility; but the greater bulk exhibit anxiety for the destruction of the “Mormon Church and people”, and with scarcely an exception all say that polygamy must be destroyed. After reading this we then read the revalation on plural marriage in Section 132 of the Doctrines and Covenants. We then read Mr. Curtis’ letters, copies of which I have given in my journal recently, and then read the following letter from Bros. C. W. Penrose and F. S. Richards, which embodied their views that they desired to present to us on last Tuesday evening:
Salt Lake City
February 16th 1887.
President John Taylor,,
In the following it is taken for granted that, as intimated in letters to brethren at Washington, it is desirable that Utah should become a State in the Union at as early a date as possible. This seems to be the only real remedy for the troubles that seriously afflict the Territory and harass and menace the Church. Statehood, under the auspices of the majority of the citizens, means deliverance from political bondage, and influence in the councils of the nation. To day Utah is in the United States and part of the body politic, existing on the public domain and subject to all the authority without exercising or taking part in any of the power belonging to the Government of the United States. She is in the country as a vassal. With Statehood she would be in the Union as a factor of the sum of its powers, and with votes to command influence and respect from the rest of the Nation.
The Church is an independent body, distinct from any political organization, whether of a Territory or of a State. But it is affected materially and necessarily by the political situation, because the members of the Church are also citizens of the Territory and would be of the State. But while the Church must study its own interest as affected by civil government, it must not ignore the fact that in the United States it must be kept separate and apart from the Territorial or State organization, whatever influence it may exercise over its members in their capacity of citizens. The acts of the people, as citizens of the State or of the Territory, must not be confounded with the acts of the Church as an ecclesiastical body.
Any movement towards Statehood, then, must be made by the body politic, and not by the body ecclesiastical. But it is within the province to say how far its influence may be used or withheld in regard to the course of its members politically. If all the members of the Church are deprived of participation in the civil government locally, as they already are nationally, the Church will have nothing to do with the State, either directly or indirectly. It will be utterly powerless to shape any policy or protect itself through the medium of the Territory or the State, and will have no voice in political matters for any purpose. That is the position that now stares it in the face. If the bill now pending becomes a law, every person desiring to vote will have to take an oath declaring his marital status and that he will obey the laws of the United States, and particularly the laws that relate to bigamy, polygamy and unlawful cohabitation, and that he will not teach, or aid, or abet or advice [advise] any one in the infraction of those laws. This, it is expected and not without reason, will prevent all true “Mormons” from voting and thus leave the local government entirely in the hands of the enemies of the majority and of the Church. They can then make local laws to still further enslave the majority and cripple the Church, being on the spot and having all the local political power. The atrocities that could be easily perpetrated under cover of law need not be pictured. There will be nothing, humanly speaking, to prevent their proceeding to the vilest extremities, except such checks as might be interposed by Congress and the Supreme Court of the United States, and it is quite doubtful that anything would be done by those bodies in the way of relief.
But the most serious part of this prospective calamity is the certainty that the anti-“Mormon” population would form the government of the new State seeking a place in the grand federation. Whether as a Republican or a Democratic State it would go in with the strongest kind of a Constitution, not only against bigamy, polygamy and polygamous association, but against plural or celestial marriage and its relations and status, to be afterward backed up with laws enacted by the enemies of the Church against all its institutions and ordinances, as administered by an organization that teaches and advises and countenances marriage relations that are unconstitutional under the State and obnoxious to its laws. The Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary, all the petty local offices in county, district, precinct, city and ward, would be on the side of the State as against the members of the Church, with unlimited taxing powers and no check from Congress or the Supreme Court of the United States. It would be then really and truly, a State antagonistic to the Saints, and a Church without any political influence in the State or the Nation, because its members would be utterly stripped of all voting powers and of any participation whatever in politics. How the political powers so completely lost could ever be recovered, requires the prophetic gift to discern. Naturally, it looks impossible.
Against all this stands the possibility of Statehood under the auspices of the majority. This would give the people who of right should regulate all local concerns, the control of all the powers of State government, legislative, executive and judicial. They would make the laws, define them and execute them. They could do this so as to protect the Church and its institutions and not destroy them. The influence of the Church would prevail in the State, not by dominating it or directly interfering with its operations, but through its members in their civil capacity. It would be “the power behind the throne”; the spirit controlling the body; but not the body itself. Under laws so enacted, plural or celestial marriage need not be disturbed as a religious institution, so long as it did not seek the sanction of the State as a civil institution or infringe upon the civil law. The civil laws then must be framed with a view to this distinction, and this would be constitutionally and morally right, because the State, under its own constitution, must not interfere with an establishment of religion, nor forbid the free exercise thereof. The advantages of such a difference need not here be pointed out. They are as self-evident as they are immense and desirable.
Can this be achieved, and if so, by what means? The prospects we have now are more favorable to this than they are likely to be at any future time in our history. As a Democratic State Utah would be a great temptation to the dominant party. Three electoral votes make the balance of power. Two Senators and a Representative in Congress would be potent for the party and for the new State, in case the anti-“Mormon” outcry was still raised. A people with votes are somebody in politics; without them they are nobody.
It may be set down as a fixture, that without some arrangement on the polygamy question, Statehood for Utah is not to be considered. It is outside of all controversy. It could not be undertaken by any party, because the country would not have it and it is not even debatable. Can the people of Utah settle this matter themselves? In a political capacity, yes; as a Church, perhaps no. But it is not properly a Church question, except incidentally as explained above. It is purely before the country a question of politics. The opportunity now afforded is in the initiative taken by the Government, instead of a voluntary offer on the part of the people. The Scott Amendment is the offer to the people on the part of the Government. This failing to pass or be attached to the bill now pending, if the President of the United States will veto the bill, contingent on the willingness of the people to accept, politically, the proposition, it still comes to them, not from them. Further. The conditions of Montanas going in as a State contain this same proposition. The State constitution must forbid bigamy and polygamy. The probability is that a general constitutional Amendment will be adopted which will prevent any State from recognition unless it provides against these offences.
If the people of Utah accept the condition, they but accept the inevitable. For if they do not take advantage of it for self protection, their local enemies will take it and manipulate it to their political destruction. If the majority do not take it and use it to protect the Church, the minority will take it to enslave and harass and cripple the Church and all its institutions.
But can the conditions be accepted, honorably and religiously? It must be kept in mind that this is a political matter. It is not a proposition to the Church. It is a question to the citizens. The plurally married members of the Church, embracing its leaders and most of its influential men, need not give direct answer to the question. The voting citizens, Mormon, Apostate, Gentile and neutral are interested in this. They will have to vote upon it, if it comes to a vote. It is a secular issue. The Church is not asked to give up celestial marriage, nor to relinquish bigamy or polygamy. The “Mormons” are not asked to concede anything as to their religion or to promise anything for the future. The Territory of Utah, in a civil capacity, is required to accept a plank in its political platform as a condition to its Statehood; a provision prohibiting polygamy and bigamy by law. The Territory is already under this prohibition, actually and legally. And it is being enforced by the enemies of the majority. Will they take it under their own manipulation and use it fairly and with a view to saving their religious rights, or will they allow it to remain and be perpetuated in the hands of their enemies, to still further encroach upon those rights? Here is no compromise. Here is no promise. Here is no dishonorable agreement. The Church does not figure in it as between the Citizens and the Government, it only stays back and refrains from advising that portion of the citizens who are its members against accepting the proposition.
Supposing the assurance is given that the Church will not interfere with its members in voting on this question in their capacity of citizenship, if the bill now pending is defeated, or in the event of its passage and signature, that the way shall be opened for their free, untrammeled vote on the Statehood question, and the removal of the disabilities of older citizens, what will be the consequence? Why that we shall have in our State Constitution a prohibition that already exists in law and in fact, and is severely enforced, and our friends will have the enacting of the laws in pursuance thereof. They can enact laws against bigamy and polygamy so as to ignore celestial marriage without doing so in terms. Marriage under the State (not under the Church, which makes its own marriage regulations) will be a civil contract embracing certain conditions. The avoidance or non-fulfilment of any of these conditions will render the contract void in law. It may be perfectly acceptable to the Lord and His Church. But it will not be a marriage in law. And a second or third union of this kind would not be bigamy or polygamy, because the civil law would not be broken that forbids bigamy and polygamy and defines them as offences against the civil law of marriage. The matter is simple, clearly defined, practicable and in no way dishonorable, unless our plural marriages which are now unrecognizable by the civil law may be termed dishonorable. The status would be the same in both instances, only what we do now is punishable, and what we should do then would be beyond the reach of the civil law, being purely ecclesiastical.
But waiving this, let us look at the matter from the standpoint of the State as against the Church. If we view the terms bigamy and polygamy to mean our celestial marriage relations and forbid them by law, what then ? Why we simply lay ourselves liable to prosecution under laws enacted by our friends, administered by our friends, tried by our friends, adjudicated upon by our friends, instead of having all this done by our enemies. We then say, we consider the law of God superior to the law of the State, and if we have to break the law of the State to keep the law of God, we will stand by the consequences. But we have our friends to adjudge us guilty and mete out the penalties which will have a minimum as well as a maximum in practice. That is all perfectly fair and above board, without mental reservation or quibble, or any fine-drawn distinctions as to the difference between plural marriage and bigamy, or celestial marriage and polygamy, and those who pleased to do so could class them all together.
Under the last considerations, the people in a political capacity could conscientiously, fairly, honorably and prudently accept the situation on the ground that bigamy and polygamy being obnoxious to the nation, the will of the majority is accepted as a matter of civil polity, but not in any way as a concession of principle, or a compromise of religion, or a yielding up of a tenet or practice of faith. The State accepts the inevitable in the Democratic rule of the majority, the Church stands where it always stood, and those of its members who violate the civil law in order to keep the law of God, are ready to meet the consequences under the laws of the State, without flinshing and without equivocation.
So, whether we make our definitions of bigamy and polygamy to exclude plural marriage, or as comprehending that practice, our monogamous friends can conscientiously and consistently adopt the prohibition in their capacity as citizens forming a secular commonwealth. And the Church simply says to its members, “you are free to vote on this question according to your best judgment, the Church will not forbid you nor cast you out for your action on this civil matter.” And with this view of the position, cannot the leading men of the Church say in answer to the question now pressing for a reply: “The people will be left free to vote on that question, with a fair prospect of success; it is a political issue and the Church will not interfere.”
The bill has been so modified that the President will have great difficulty to find grounds for a veto. Nothing occurs in the test oath as to belief. The three years penalty for adultery is to catch polygamists alone, but he could not point out or object to that. The winding up of the Church and P. E. fund affairs looks plausible on principles of law and equity, and the cutting down of the appointing powers to the Probate Judges, robs the bill of the chief features on which he could safely predicate a veto. He will have to be stiffened by some assurance, or will in all probability sign it. The test oath appears to be commingly [commonly] kept within constitutional limits and yet made exclusive of “Mormons” who will not promise to keep all the laws.
If the members of the Church who would vote on the Constitution question were quietly informed as to its effects and given to understand it as a political and not a Church question, and that it would not interfere with their standing as Latter-day Saints, it would soon be comprehended in its true light. So far from being a subterfuge, it would relieve our people from the endless subterfuges and prevarications which our present condition imposes, and which threaten to make our rising generation a race of deceivers.
This is a political issue. It concerns all classes of citizens. Utah will go into the Union with a constitutional provision against polygamy. It will either be enforced by our enemies, or manipulated by our friends. In either case the Church will cut no public figure. The “Mormons” are not asked to compromise, to give up anything, or to promise anything. The question is, Will the majority of the citizens of Utah adopt the prohibitory clause, or let their enemies adopt it and enlarge upon it? The leaders of the Church are simply asked, will you leave your people free in their capacity as citizens to form a State Government in harmony with the rest of the Union on the main question, or will you prevent them? The crisis is at hand. The new State will be non-polygam
ist<ous> by civil law. Shall we shelter our ecclesiastical laws and institutions, or shall we leave them to be preyed upon by our enemies? When the answer is finally given, every true Latter- day Saint will accept the issue.
Your Brethren in the Gospel,
Charles W. Penrose
Franklin S. Richards.
I think it a strong document, and it portrays in vigorous style the condition of affairs which is likely to exist in the territory, should the Tucker bill pass and other plans succeed which our enemies have in contemplation. I cannot but admit the force of their views, but after praying upon the subject with much earnestness, I cannot agree with their conclusions. I have felt very seriously the great responsibility which rests upon the First Presidency of the Church in this crisis, and especially upon President Taylor, and I have prayed earnestly for him and myself. Here is a great people, men, women and children in our charge and looking to us for watchcare and guidance and counsel. Their lives, their liberty, their property and everything they have is, to a certain extent, under our control; they are the flock, we are the shepherds. I most earnestly desire that none of their blood shall be found on our garments, and that no condemnation, not even a shadow, shall rest upon us for any word or act that we may say or do, or for the neglect to say or do that which should be said and done, to save them from impending evil. I never felt the responsibility of my calling more than I do now, for I never stood in quite so responsible a position. When the letter of Bros. Penrose and Richards came, and the other letters that had preceded it, I prayed that I might have the Spirit of that letter and of that policy, if it was right that I should have it; but the more I thought and prayed about it, the less inclined I have been to adopt their views which they present. They are not clear to me as right and to be adopted; on the contrary, my mind is clear in the opposite direction, and not a doubt exists in my mind that this latter feeling is the right one.
The premises which the latter have adopted and from which they reason are not correct. We have no assurance from any reliable source, that either President Cleveland or the Congress of the United States would accept from us a Constitution embodying the prohibi[tion] of bigamy and polygamy. The sentiments of members of Congress, just reported to us, clearly show that they have no confidence in us and if we were to make such a Constitution, they would look upon it as a subterfuge and treat it accordingly. However much confidence Mr. Cleveland might have in such a Constitution, he is but one factor in the consideration of the question; a strong one, it is true, but not sufficiently strong to carry off successfully such a load as this before the Country and the Congress. It is as clear to my mind, as the light of day, that such results as the brethren picture in their letter, would not follow the adoption of policy which they recommend. I think their letter a good presentation of their views; and if we could carry out the plan which they indicate or suggest, it would be a very serious question for us to consider, and perhaps the Lord might induce us to adopt it; but the results they anticipate would not follow its present adoption. Of this, there is not a doubt in my mind. Up to the present time, we have not flinched or wavered in our attitude upon this question. To every solicitation, proposal and plan, our answer has always been the same. The First Presidency of the Church, in the days of President Young, were uniformly consistent upon this point, and the present First Presidency have been the same. If we were to step forward and say that we would consent to frame and vote for a Constitution, forever prohibiting bigamy and polygamy, it would be a fruitless concession. No commensurate results would follow; nothing short of our complete abandonment of that doctrine in the most public and solemn manner and the complete stoppage of all plural marriages here after, would satisfy the present public opinion of the Country. It would demand that inexorably. Our enemies could say: “if you do not mean this as a subterfuge, why do not your people, when they are brought into Court, make the promises demanded of them, that they will obey the law as interpreted by the Courts”. The brethren say in their communication: “The Mormons are not asked to compromise, to give up anything, or to promise anything.” If this were truly the case, this question would appear in a very different light to my mind; but is this true? If we do not compromise, do not give up our doctrine of plural marriage, or do not make promisses concerning it, we cannot satisfy the Country. It is worse than childish to think that we can. I have given my views with some degree of fullness upon this point in my journal, for some day it may be of importance to know where I stood and what my feelings were upon it. President Taylor is an aged man, and though he is a man whose will-power to day is, if anything, stronger than it ever was, there is an impression very generally entertained (and without good foundation too) among the Gentiles and among many of our people, that I have more influence and voice in determining these questions than I really have. This is shown in the eagerness which our enemies have exhibited to get hold of me; in the reward of $50000/ that was offered for me last winter and in the reward which is recently offered of $500.00/ for me and $300.00/ for President Taylor. But upon this question I am happy to say that I could not, if I wished to, influence President Taylor to yield a hair’s breadth beyond that which is right. We feel alike upon this question and are unanimous in our conclusions. I dictated a letter, which Bro. Nuttall wrote, in reply to a letter of Bros. Penrose and Richards. President Taylor approved of it as it was without changing one word. The statement concerning the Tucker Bill and the Test oath, that we had not seen them, which were at the close of the letter, were the only words he added to it. I give a copy of the letter here:
Febr. 19/87 C. W. Penrose and F. S. Richards:
Your letter of the 16th inst, written in response to our request for you to give us in writing the views, which you had orally communicated to us, has been received and been carefully considered.
You have made a very able, clear and comprehensive presentation of the case from your standpoint. If the premises from which you reason were correct, we should almost be inclined to say that your communication was conclusive upon the subject. In most forcible language you describe the evils with which we are menaced and which are likely to come upon us under the operations of the Tucker Bill should it become law, and be almost irrevocably fastened upon us unless we adopt this plan which is now being urged upon us by our friends, namely, that of framing and voting for a Constitution which shall forever prohibit the practice of bigamy and polygamy in the New State.
The evils which you describe as impending are of such a nature as to impel one to seek for any method of deliverance which would not be dishonorable. The arguments you use in favor of the adoption of such a Constitution are very plausible. But we are confronted at the very outset by this inquiry: What good grounds are there for supposing that, if we were to adopt such a Constitution, and present it to Congress, and ask to be admitted under it into the Union as a State, our request would be variably considered? Nothing that we have heard from President Cleveland gives us warrant to believe that he would be satisfied upon this point by such an instrument.
We know that Mr. Curtis has written hopefully in this direction; but his hopes appear to have for their chief basis his desires and anxiety to see us delivered from the dreadful consequences of the Tucker bill.
A letter just received from Bro John W. Young giving a discription of his interview with President Cleveland, does not furnish ground for believing that such a concession as you suggest would be all that he would ask. You must bear constantly in mind the fact that President Cleveland has been anxious to settle this question; but the basis of settlement in his mind, as presented by Dr. Miller when he came here, was, the future discontinuance of plural marriages.
We have just received a report containing brief interviews with nearly every Member of the House of Representatives. They have been seen individually, and their views are written in their own language upon the Tucker Bill and the Scott amendment. The number who have not expressed themselves is less than half a dozen. From these interviews it is plain that 19 out of every 20 have no confidence in the Scott amendment, and would not have voted for it, because they looked upon it as a subterfuge, or as being in the interests of the Mormons and to nullify the Tucker Bill. The majority express themselves as having no confidence in our promising to do what the Scott amendment proposes to do, and they would not consent to the admission of a Territory as a State on any such terms; that nothing short of the complete extirpation of polygamy by harsh measures, such as the Tucker Bill, would satisfy them.
It appears clear, therefore, to our minds, that the adoption of such a policy as you outline in your communication would not satisfy Congress and the Country at large, and its adoption by us would only result in humiliation to us without any corresponding benefit. For years before President Young’s death, the First Presidency of the Church assumed an attitude upon this question which has not been changed by the First Presidency up to the present time. That attitude has been both dignified and consistent with our professions and belief. We have not coquetted with this question, have shown no inclination to compromise with principle, or in any manner wavered in our maintenance of our rights connected with it. Every well informed public man knows this; and they are conscious that this principle is so deeply imbedded in our belief and practice, that nothing but the most cruel and far reaching measures will cause us to abandon it. Their expressions show that they would have no confidence that such language as is used in the Scott amendment would bind us to a renunciation of this practice. If we were to make such a proposal, we should leave the ground upon which we have so long stood and so consistently maintained, and take new ground. In doing so we should have the mortification of proposing a concession that would be spurned and thrown back at us with contempt. We should, thereby, not only loose [lose] our own self respect, but our own people would be weakened and the world would say we had offered to barter away principle for the sake of expediency.
If the plan which you suggest would be accepted by the Nation, and could be successfully carried out in the manner which appears to you feasible, the question would then present itself in a very different light to which it does now to our minds. It is as clear to us as light that this is not practicable, and that it is a plan which under present circumstances we cannot possibly accept. Whatever the evils and terrors of the Tucker Bill may be, personally we prefer to endure them than to take this other course. We have put our trust in God in the past and we must trust Him in this as in all other things in the future. In doing so we are not troubled with even the shadow of a doubt as to what the result will be.
As we have not seen the Bill <we know not> what changes have been made in that and the Test oath.
With kind regards and thanking you for the interest you have taken and the trouble you have been at to get your views clearly before us and properly recognizing the motives which have prompted you in your communications
George Q. Cannon.
I went to my home on the river. Bro. Bateman took me.
Sunday, Febr. 20/87 I found my family all well, with the exception of my wife Martha, who had a bad attack of deafness. Bro. Joshua Stewart came down to hold Sunday School with my children, at which I was also present. In the afternoon we had Sacrament meeting. Lewis opened by prayer. Angus administered the Sacrament; I occupied nearly an hour in talking, and we enjoyed the Spirit very much. I called on Hugh and David and Angus each to speak, which they did, and I enjoyed their remarks. William closed the meeting by prayer. The Union and the Peace and the sweet influence of the Spirit of the Lord, which I feel when I visit my family and get them together, give me a foretaste of Heaven. I felt so to day. We were all together until quite late; in fact, the most of the folks stayed up till after twelve oClock, when Bro. Bateman called for me. I feel much impressed to have my children stop attending the University, as soon as the term expires, June 16th. The influence and associations there do not please me. I think it better for the children to have special studies and devote a portion of their time to work. Mary Alice commenced as bookkeeper in the Juvenile Instructor Office yesterday. Angus and David are already there, the former learning bookbinding, the latter printing. Hugh expects to commence to learn to be a gardener in two or three weeks, and William is learning to be a cabinetmaker, which leaves my twin daughters and Lewis at the University. I have spoken to the twins about going to work at folding and stitching, so as to begin to earn something for themselves and at the same time keep up some of their studies, devoting a portion of the time thereto. Lewis wants to be a carpenter, and I think can be employed at home and have a part of his time to devote to special branches. We stand in great need here of a school of our own, where our religious principles can be taught and in which students can learn the higher branches.
Monday, Febr. 21/87 We reached our quarters about a quarter past four. The ride was quite cold. Word reached us that the conference report on the Tucker Bill had passed the Senate. Listened to correspondence, which was quite voluminous to day. I felt ready for bed to night, the day’s work was a hard one and I have had but little sleep for two nights. The following letter was dictated, which Bro. Nuttall wrote, for Bros. John T. Caine and John W. Young, which President Taylor and myself signed.
Hon’s John T. Caine and John W. Young
Washington D. C.
Brother John W’
s favor of the 12th containing the report of an interview with President Cleveland, has been received and perused with interest.
We also received Bro. John W’s dispatch, dated Febr. 14th.
Brother C. W. Penrose and Brother F S. Richards had each written to us his views upon the question involved in that dispatch. The latter also furnished us a long, elaborately written letter of George Ticknor Curtis, Esqr. upon the same subject. In order that the two brethren named should have the fullest opportunity of setting forth their views orally, we had an interview with them; and at the close of which they were requested to reduce them to writing. This they did in an able and comprehensive letter, to which we have written an answer, a copy of which we enclose herewith.
The difficulty that we perceive is this: What can we say or do to President Cleveland, if he interests himself in our case, towards satisfying public clamor? Can we satisfy public clamor and still maintain the ground upon which we have ever stood in relation to this question? In using the words “satisfying public clamor”, we use those of your dispatch. Public clamor demands, and will not be satisfied with anything less than, the complete cessation of plural marriages and a renunciation of the practice by us. We are told that public opinion is chrystalized in regard to Mormonism. If it is, it is plain to be seen, from every expression made upon this subject, that nothing less than the complete destruction of our system of plural marriages will appease the popular demand. We think in speaking in this strain that we do not overstate this. We think we have reason to believe that President Cleveland would not be satisfied with any thing short of this. Dr. Miller’s visit to Salt Lake, doubtless with a tacit understanding between himself and the Administration as to the end to be accomplished, was for the purpose of convincing us of the extreme necessity and advisability of our making a promise of this kind.
The plan of brothers Penrose and Richards if it could be successfully accomplished might, perhaps, avert the evils which are impending; but it is chimerical. The public men of the nation would not accept it; they would not permit us to carry it into effect, while the present sentiment reigns upon this subject.
These are our reasons for saying to you in our dispatch, “that we cannot change our attitude upon the main question”. We have examined the views and arguments which have been presented to us with the utmost care and deliberation, and we have sought the guidance of our God; and these are the conclusions we have reached. We are conscious of the weighty responsibility that rests upon us as Shepherds of the flock of Christ, and how important the consequences may be that will follow any decision that we make. But with all this in view, we have decided that we cannot do anything more than we have done towards conciliating public opinion upon this question, and whatever may be the results to us and to the people, we must trust to the Lord to sustain and deliver us.
We are greatly pleased with all you have told us concerning the feelings of President Cleveland and the desire which he manifests to serve us. It would gratify us very much to meet him in the same spirit which he exhibits, and to please him, but in this we must please our God and seek to maintain and carry out that which he has commanded.
With love to yourselves and all who are with you and praying the Lord to bless and preserve you
We are your Brethren
George Q. Cannon.
Tuesday, Febr 22/87 This is Washington’s birthday and a general holiday. We were informed early this morning that the deputies had reached this place and surrounded two houses, and had arrested two men, Bros. J. R. Barnes and Wm Blood. This kept us on the alert until they took their departure by train. The day was spent in writing and reading. In the afternoon President Taylor and myself talked on property matters. He expressed a wish that I would go in to the City about this, but it was afterward thought better to remain over till to morrow.
Wednesday, Febr. 23/87 I drafted the following dispatch to be sent to Bro. John W. Young, he having sent two dispatches, which we have just received, urging an answer to his previous dispatch.
“Cannot give any assurance that will satisfy public clamor. Penrose’s defination will not do this. Obtain from President Cleveland what will satisfy him. Have written you fully.
After listening to the correspondence President Taylor and myself had a long conversation respecting the disposition that can be made of the Church property. I afterward dictated answers to letters and my journal to Bro. Wilcken. Went into the City this evening accompanied by Bro. Wilcken.
Thursday, Febr. 24/87 I called together the following brethren. Elders F. D. Richards, Heber J. Grant, John W. Taylor, W. B. Preston, A. M. Cannon, H. B. Clawson, Le Grande Young, F. S. Richards and James Jack. We canvassed thoroughly the situation of the properties, but I found myself hampered in doing anything to make them secure because of President Taylor’s unwillingness to part with them in a bona-fide manner. The attorneys felt that to do anything with the property that was not bona fide would be very unsafe. I brought a summary of our proceedings back in writing for President Taylor’s information. This I obtained by calling in Bros. A. Winter and G. F. Gibbs and dictating, in the presence of all, that which we had done, so that if there were any corrections to be made the brethren that heard my dictation, could make them. One reporter copied his own notes while the other was taking his notes. Bro. Lorenzo Snow had been telegraphed to and he came up on the train in the evening from Nephi in company with Bro. Budge. I explained to them the nature of the business that called me in and what we had done. This has been a very busy day for me. I felt, however, that I must return to our place of refuge and have a full conversation with President Taylor. Bro. Lehi Pratt called at the Office for me and took me down to Bro. A. Solomon’s, where I found Bro. Wilcken. We reached our place of residence at 2.15. in the morning. Before I left the Office I had about a quarter of an hour’s interview with my wife Carlie, who came there at my request. Bro. John W. Young sent us the following telegram yesterday:
“Attorney General returns bill to President to morrow night. If we hold control of territory under Test oath, every Saint must swallow more mental reservations each time he votes than would be required to vote once for Constitution. Must have answer here to question wired Friday.”
Friday, Febr. 25/87 Listened to and dictated answers to correspondence. I read to President Taylor my notes of yesterday’s proceedings in the City and brought finally to his mind the extreme peril in which the Church property stood; that if the bill passed, one of the first acts probably, under it, in regard to our property would be the appointment of a Receiver.
I read to him the sections of the Tucker bill, upon the subject of Church property and the powers which the Courts have under them. If a Receiver was appointed, every dollar of property, belonging to the Church, which he (President Taylor) now held as Trustee in Trust would be taken posession of by the Receiver, and he would not have power to sign a single order on any bishop or any other custodian of tithing funds, no matter how pressing the emergency or necessity might be. He would be stripped of all authority to pay a single hand we employed, out of the tithing funds or to administer to their wants and necessities or expend anything for the building of Temples. He intimated at first that he would let them take everything; but a little further consideration showed him that it was his duty to save the property from going into the hands of our enemies while he had the power to control and dispose of it. There are many institutions they would like to get hold of, the Deseret News, Deseret Telegraph, Theatre, the little Savings Bank, the Gas and Street R. R. Stocks and portions of real estate. We owe it to our brethren and sisters, who have interests in these Stocks, to protect them and not suffer our enemies to get control. The horned Stock and sheep and horses were also spoken of; and it was decided that everything possible should be done to save all these properties for the uses for which they were designed. President Taylor, being thoroughly awakened upon this subject, desired me to return to the City and do everything in my power to get things into good shape. He said to me: “Whatever you and the lawyers decide about the matter, have it done.” He added, “you know my mind upon all these points, as we have conversed fully upon them, and do everything you can to save the property; sell the horned Stock, sheep and horses for money, for we can take care of the money; the other property you can sell with a double guarantee, that is, the parties to restore it to me within a given period if I wish to buy back, for the same price at which I sell it; and I, on my part, to make good to them any loss or expense they may be at while the property is in their possession”. I took all the necessary papers with me and left for the City in Company with Bro. S. Bateman at 6.45. Reached the Office toward eleven oClock and slept there. Bro. Geo. F. Gibbs being with me as a guard. We have a secret hiding place constructed, which no one knows but he and Bro. Rossiter, and in the event of a surprise or descent upon the Office by marshals, I wish one of them to be with me.
It was decided to sell that which could be sold without injury such as Cattle, sheep, and Horses for the best price in Cash. To sell stocks in companies for as [illegible] [good?] a price as possible with a double, verbal guarantee dependent on the honor of the purchaser that he would sell back to the Trustee-in-Trust when called upon, for the same price, the T-in-T guaranteeing also on his part to make good any loss the purchaser might be at.
The Theatre to be sold for $2500000/ with the understanding that it shall be returned to the T-in-T when called for, at the same price
The Stock in the Deseret News to be sold at a low figure to sound Latter-day Saints with the same understanding.
The Deseret Telegraph Stock the same
The Stock in Z. S. B. & T. Co to James Jack who originally held it.
The Gas Stock we think can be sold for $6500/ per Share and the Street Railway Stock for $2000/ or $25.00/ per Share with a Verble guarantee
To make disposition of the grain and other property held in the various Tithing Offices. if no better plan can be devised this property can be restored to the people in their local organizations
“Whatever you and the Lawyers shall decide about these matters have it done.”
Do all you can to save the property, sell all you can for money for the money we can take care of.
Make out deed for piece of Theatre lot
If the Theatre has a Company let it stand if possible. I would not sell it bona fide for less than three times $25000.00/
Sell the Cattle, there cannot be much loss on them.
Sell the Sheep and Horses.
The Street Railroad and Gas Stock can be sold conditionally, if possible to be restored at same prices
Gardo House might be left as it is, unless put in hands of Trustees.
If the Deseret News Company is a bona fide company why not let it stand, or sell the Stock at a very low figure, and have it understood to be returned.
Give up the papers, if necessary, for the P. E. Fund company.
Do every thing in the primes [?] as that will save the property. Sell everything as far as possible with the understanding that it is to be returned excepting the Cattle, Sheep and Horses.
Consult our attorneys in regard to all these Matters5
Saturday, Febr. 26/87 I called the same brethren, including Bros. L Snow and Miner, together at 9 oClock this morning, <who met with me on Thursday,> and we were closely occupied the whole day, discussing how best to secure the property and arranging for its disposal. This labor is very fatigueing as I have to be on the strain all the time, listening to their suggestions and watching every point. The following dispatch was received from Bro. John W. Young:
Washington D. C. Febr 25/87
Bro James Jack
The President said to me this morning (that) he is entirely satisfied with (the) wording Scott amendment and said no man here <can> ask more. (He)
He has left the matter for Scott and I to arrange. The question of cessation of marriages has never been mentioned. We (are) to receive this (as a) private overture. (The) Scott amendment (is) now offered by them the same as if it had passed Congress, and they (are) to back up this programme now and (in) next Congress when Constitution is offered. He is kindly disposed to act as fair and far as possible. In using (the) term polygamy in (the) Scott amendment I remembered father’s definition of years ago and guarded it accordingly. If we use (the) same line of defence now that we use in every trial at the bar, it will make us a State, only the court is a political one. The Church don’t relinquish a single principle. (The) Attorney General not decided yet as to validity of (the) law. President (is) open. Now is our opportunity. Decision must be here (on) Monday morning without fail, your letter will be too late. We cannot look for more extensions. Carefully consider (the] meaning (of) this telegram. The Lord direct you,
[signed] John W. Young.
I took the liberty of reading the dispatch to the brethren, on the condition that they should say nothing about it, and got an expression of their views concerning the question involved in it. Bro. Snow had left to keep an appointment at Bountiful before the dispatch reached. The feeling of the most of the brethren was, that we might accept the Scott amendment under the circumstances without compromising ourselves. I felt it to be necessary to return to night to counsel with President Taylor about this dispatch. Bro. Bateman and myself reached there at 13 minutes past twelve.
Sunday, Febr. 27/87 I was considerably exhausted last night with my labors and journey and I did not arise for breakfast. I gave the dispatch, however, upon my arrival to Bro. Nuttall, that he might submit it to President Taylor, so that he could be pondering upon it. When I arose he had the subject under consideration and seemed inclined, I thought, to favor the idea of acquiescing in the proposition of Bro. John W. Young and proposed that a dispatch be sent to the effect, that the people could have the liberty of acting in this matter. I suggested that it might convey a wrong idea; it might be inferred from such language that we were restraining the people and were exercising control over them to keep them from complying with the wishes of the nation. He then asked me what my views about it were, and I stated to him that, it seemed to me, the question which we had to meet at the threshhold was, what constriction will be put upon our action if we assent to the terms of the Scott amendment. It is evident I said, that much importance is attached to our words upon this point from the repeated dispatches which have come, urging an expression from us. Will our consent to the Scott amendment be taken as a surrender of principle? This is the dangerous point, and ought to be especially guarded against. The next question which arises if we consent to the terms of the Scott amendment, is, can we consent to the framing of a Constitution prohibiting polygamy and then vote for it. The same vote that will elect the delegates to such a convention will also carry the constitution. Personally I would be averse to any trifling with this grave question. I would not be in favor of doing anything in this matter unless we carry out all the terms in perfect good faith. We are dealing as a great people with a great nation through its Chief Executive, and we owed it to him as well as to ourselves that whatever we should do in this matter, should be free from everything that would have the appearance of deception or trickery. Better therefore, I thought, to refuse every overture now, than to consent to a part and not carry out the whole. If I should consent at all to the proposition, and it should become law, I should expect to see the constitution framed and adopted according to its terms. To take any other course would only intensify hatred against us. We could do this as a matter of political necessity, preferring to enact the laws under the constitution ourselves, and to punish ourselves for violating them, than to let our enemies frame laws for us and punish us under them or to continue their barbarities under the present federal laws.
To me this is a most grave question. I feel most solemnly the responsibility resting upon the First Presidency of the Church. I clothed myself in my temple robes this morning and laid the case before the Lord, and asked His guidance.
After the conversation above referred to, we both felt, after due deliberation, to send the following dispatch to Bro. J. W. Young:
“If Scott amendment will satisfy President Cleveland, it will be acceptable to us. If it shall become law, we see no objections to people carrying out its provisions as proposed.”
But that there might be no question as to our position and feelings concerning this matter, we thought it only prudent, in view of our own honor and as a defence hereafter and for historical purposes, to send the following dispatch also to Bro. John W. Young:
“We desire it distinctly understood we accept terms of Scott amendment as a political necessity, and that in doing so we neither yield nor compromise an iota of our religious principles. If by consenting to its terms we should be understood as conceding anything religiously, or giving up any doctrine or principle for which we have been contending, we should recoil from it and emphatically reject it. If a constitution should be adopted according to its provisions, it would, at worst, only be punishing ourselves for what our enemies are now punishing us.”
See remarks on this subject in journal under date of Tuesday, March 8/87.
Bro. John Woolley carried these dispatches to the city. I followed in this evening with Bro. Wilcken and was taken to my home on the river. Before closing to day’s journal I ought to say, that after the business of this dispatch was attended to, the sad news of the death of President Taylor’s wife, Sophia, was communicated to him. She died at six oClock this morning. It was a sad sight to see a venerable man like him, who had led an inoffensive and pure life from his childhood up to his present old age, deprived of the privelege of even seeing his wife in her death sickness or ministering to her in the least degree, and denied the melancholy privilege of seeing her corpse, or taking part in the funeral services. The villains who are responsible for these outrageous acts of tyranny and cruelty are laying up wrath for themselves against the day of wrath. We held a short meeting this afternoon and partook of the Sacrament.
Monday, Febr. 28/87 Arose at four oClock this morning and Bro. Wilcken and I went up to the Office. I spent the day busily engaged with the brethren in arranging for the disposition of the Church property. My wife Carlie came and visited with me until ten oClock in the evening.