The Church Historian's Press

May 1899

23–24 May 1899 • Tuesday to Wednesday

Tuesday & Wednesday, May 23rd & 24th, 1899

I found Brother Heber J. Grant and wife here. They arrived yesterday afternoon. When they arrived, Bishop Clawson informed me that Brother Grant was somewhat eager to go to the Treasury Department and make an argument in favor of the Deseret News site; but Brother Clawson suggested that he had better wait until my return before doing so. Brother Clawson introduced him to General Clarkson, and General Clarkson was impressed with the vigorous manner in which Brother Grant presented his argument and he thought it would be a good thing for me to take him to the Assistant Secretary. But after this interview with General Clarkson and Bishop Clawson, Brother Grant saw George A. Snow and Mr. Ricketts, who are here urging the City Hall site as the proper place for the Federal Building. Their presentation of the case and the arguments that were being used against the Deseret News site were of such a character that Brother Clawson said when he met Brother Grant again he found him very much weakened in his advocacy of the Deseret News site and altogether in favor of the City Hall site. It certainly would be to Brother Grant’s pecuniary advantage to have the City Hall corner chosen, because he owns three-fourths of the theatre, which is diagonally across the street from the old City Hall. I found in an interview with Brother Grant this morning that he was quite favorably impressed with the City Hall corner, and that, as Brother Clawson had said, he was ready to drop the News and take it up if I thought it best to do so. I told him that my attitude had been such that I could do nothing but urge the Deseret News corner as the proper place, though my pecuniary personal interest would be promoted by the selection of the City Hall corner, as I am the largest stockholder in the Brigham Young Trust Co., a great deal of whose property would be opposite and contiguous to this site. I had represented to the Secretary of the Treasury and other officials that I had purposely come down to offer them the Deseret News corner site on behalf of the Church as an evidence of our goodwill and patriotism, and that for me to change and advocate some other site would put me in a position which I did not wish to occupy. I had not, in any of my conversations, said a word against other sites or in advocacy of other sites, but had confined myself strictly to the presenting in the best possible light the site that we offered. My remarks to Brother Grant on this subject seemed to satisfy him that the proper thing for him to do was to still advocate the Deseret News corner site. He spoke at one time to me about going to New York without taking any part in this matter; but I felt that, as he was here, he had better see the Treasury officials. I thought if the decision should go against us he might think hereafter that if I had encouraged him to stay the result might have been different. I proposed, therefore, that he should go with me to the Treasury Department and I would introduce him to Mr. Lyman J. Gage, the Secretary of the Treasury, and to Mr. Taylor, the Assistant Secretary, and perhaps to Mr. Dawes, Comptroller of the Currency. We went over to the Treasury Department and I introduced him to the Secretary and said I would like to have him listen to his argument, which he did, and Brother Grant gave his reasons for believing the Deseret News site to be the best that could be selected. We then went to the Assistant Secretary’s room, where we found George A. Snow, Mr. Ricketts and a Mr. Harper. The latter is connected with Senator Hanna and is a friend of Mr. Ricketts. They were making a very strong argument against the Dooly site and in favor of the City Hall corner. After they got through (George A. Snow having introduced Brother Grant to the Secretary) I told the Secretary that I had desired Mr. Grant, who had just come on from Salt Lake City, to present his views upon this question. A lengthy conversation ensued, in which all present except myself took part. I said very little because they were speaking against the Dooly site. Their arguments were of so convincing a character that I could not see, notwithstanding the evident preference which Mr. Taylor had for that site, how it would be possible for him to select it. Eleven out of the thirteen bankers in Salt Lake had telegraphed their protest to George A. Snow and the Assistant Secretary against this site. It became evident to me that the Dooly site was, so to speak, knocked out. While this argument was in progress ex-Attorney General McCammon, Mr. Dooly’s attorney, came in the room, and he was called upon to make remarks, which he did, and some of his statements concerning the City Hall site, though having some truth, were false in fact and were speedily contradicted and disproved by George A. Snow. I had some talk with Mr. McCammon before the Assistant Secretary and told him, in reply to his remark that he did not know there was to be a hearing of the case this morning, that it was quite accidental on my part being here at this discussion, but that he, Mr. McCammon, could not very well suffer from anything that had been said, because the Assistant Secretary had argued his side of the case very well, for he seemed thoroughly saturated with all the reasons and arguments in favor of the Dooly site. I told him I deplored the injection of the religious element into this discussion which I understood had been done by him, and which, I thought, his client, Mr. Dooly, might yet be sorry for. He went on to say in reply that he did not think it proper for a church to enter into an alliance with the government, etc. I saw at once that Mr. Taylor had shown my statement, which was intended for Mr. Taylor’s private information, to Mr. McCammon. At my first interview with Mr. Taylor I set forth certain reasons which I call sentimental why the Administration should accept our site, and these he desired me to put in writing, which I did, and which he evidently had shown with our other papers to Mr. McCammon. I replied to Mr. McCammon with some asperity, for I thought he had put a base construction upon what had been said and taken a mean advantage of it to arouse and appeal to anti-Mormon sentiment. I afterward took Brother Grant in to Mr. Dawes, and introduced him; but the time was so short that we had but little conversation. I related to Mr. Dawes some of the conversation I had had with Mr. McCammon, and said to him that I hoped that if he had the opportunity he would use his influence against dragging anti-Mormon prejudice into the discussion of the question of this site.

The interview to-day between Mr. Thompson, who represented the Walker site, and Assistant Secretary Taylor, I need make no further allusion to, as I have described it in my letter to the committee.

25 May 1899 • Thursday

Thursday, May 25, 1899

I could not find Senator Elkins this morning. I desired to have him go with me to see the Secretary of the Treasury. I therefore went alone to see him.

In reviewing the proceedings connected with the selection of this site for the Federal Building it is very plain to me that the anti-Mormon influence has prevailed. The opposition which has shown itself by the Gentiles against our site has had the effect to make the officials select the Walker site. They have not had the courage to accept this offer of ours in the spirit in which it has been tendered. As usual, they dare not do anything that would give the Gentiles the least ground for saying they had favored the Mormons. I feel we have done our duty, and, while not satisfied in some respects with the result, I know the Lord is satisfied with what we have done and will overrule it all for His own glory. I have had a profound desire to show the Administration that we desired as American citizens to always favor the government in every way in our power. It is our government, and although badly administered by men in office, it is still our government and the best government on the face of the earth for the purposes of the Lord in accomplishing His work in the last days. I have had a great desire to do all in my power to show our government that we are patriotic and to break down all distinctions as far as citizenship is concerned between ourselves and others of different religious faiths. But the effort that we have made in this direction at the present time has been unavailing, but we will still strive to secure this condition of feeling and all our rights for the sake of our country, ourselves, and our posterity.

Brother Clawson and I took the 4 o’clock train for New York this afternoon. We put up at the Hoffman House.

26 May 1899 • Friday

Friday, May 26, 1899

This has been quite a busy day for me. The first thing I did was to go to the Swedish Movement Institute and have mechanical massage with Dr. Zanders’ machines. I next went to Mr. Tenbroeck’s, the Union Pacific Agent, on Broadway, where I had agreed to meet Brother Clawson, and I had conversation about transportation of my children from Boston, also freight which I wish to send home. Next I went to Sullivan & Cromwell’s, Wall Street, to look after Union Light & Power Co. Business. Mr. Curtis, who has the business in charge, was away from the city and will not be in his office until to-morrow morning, so I left an appointment to meet him at that time. I next went to the National Park Bank, afterward to General Clarkson’s office, then went and purchased some brass bedsteads and mattresses at Judd & Co., Chambers Street, and some cutlery at Landers, Frary and Clark. In the evening Brother Clawson got tickets to the Fifth Avenue theatre and we went to the comic opera, The Charlatan. De Wolf Hopper took the principal part. I enjoyed it immensely. He is a very comical fellow.

27 May 1899 • Saturday

Saturday, May 27,1899

Went to the Swedish Movement Institute this morning. Called at Mr. Tenbroeck’s about transportation; then went to the Union Pacific office and had a visit with Mr. Winslow S. Pierce, and afterwards with Judge Cornish, who had secured transportation for my children from Buffalo home. This he had sent to them at Boston. He could not get transportation from Boston to Buffalo. Called at General Clarkson’s. At 5 o’clock took passage on the Priscilla, Fall River steamer, to Boston. I left Brother Clawson in New York.

28 May 1899 • Sunday

Sunday, May 28, 1899

Reached Boston at 8 o’clock and I was met at the station by my sons Sylvester Q. and Willard T., who took me to their quarters. We had a very happy meeting – my wife Caroline and Georgius, and the six children who have been living in Boston, viz., Sylvester Q., Willard T., Emily H., Carol Y., Grace T., and Vera Y. I was greatly pleased with the way in which they were situated. They have a flat of six rooms and bath in a respectable quarter of town, a very nice house, and have all the conveniences for doing their own cooking and housework. They look healthy and well-kept, and have no doubt lived very comfortably. I was greatly pleased to hear their expressions. Emily and Grace told me that their residence here had been the happiest in their lives, and all the others seemed to have the same feeling. They appear very grateful for the opportunities they have had. It has been quite a burden to me to furnish the necessary money, but I feel compensated by the pleasure it has given them. Sylvester and Willard have finished their courses. They are having their examinations now and hope that they will be able to graduate in a few days.

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May 1899, The Journal of George Q. Cannon, accessed June 14, 2024