Under the Prophet in Utah; the National Menace of a Political Priestcraft - LightNovelsOnl.com
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Of the men who could have written this narrative, some are dead; some are prudent; some are superst.i.tious; and some are personally foresworn.
It appeared to me that the welfare of Utah and the common good of the whole United States required the publication of the facts that I have tried to demonstrate. Since there was apparently no one else who felt the duty and also had the information or the wish to write, it seemed my place to undertake it. And I have done it gladly. For when I was subscribing the word of the Mormon chiefs for the fulfillment of our statehood pledges, I engaged my own honor too, and gave bond myself against the very treacheries that I have here recorded.
We promised that the Church had forever renounced the doctrine of polygamy and the practice of plural marriage living, by a "revelation from G.o.d" promulgated by the supreme Prophet of the Church and accepted by the vote of the whole congregation a.s.sembled in conference. We promised the retirement of the Mormon Prophets from the political direction of their followers--the abrogation of the claim that the Mormon Church was the "Kingdom of G.o.d" re-established upon earth to supersede all civil government--the abandonment by the Church of any authority to exercise a temporal power in compet.i.tion with the civil law. We promised to make the teaching and practice of the Church conform to the inst.i.tutions of a Republic in which all citizens are equal in liberty. We promised that the Church should cease to acc.u.mulate property for the support of illegal practices and un-American government. And we made a record in proof of our promises by the anti-polygamy manifesto of 1890 and its public ratification; by the pet.i.tion for amnesty and the acceptance of amnesty upon conditions; by the provisions of Utah's enabling act and of Utah's state const.i.tution; by the acts of Congress and the judicial decisions restoring escheated Church property; by the proceedings of the Federal courts of Utah in re-opening citizens.h.i.+p to the alien members of the Mormon Church; by the acquiescence of the Gentiles of Utah in the proceedings by which statehood was obtained; and finally, and most indisputably, by the admission of Utah into equal sovereignty in the Union--since that admission would never have been granted, except upon the explicit understanding that the state was to uphold the laws and inst.i.tutions of the American republic in accordance with our covenants.
Of all these promises the Church authorities have kept not one. The doctrine and practice of polygamy have been restored by the Church, and plural marriage living is practiced by the ruler of the kingdom and his favorites with all the show and circ.u.mstance of an oriental court. There are now being born in his domains thousands of unfortunate children outside the pale of law and convention, for whom there can be entertained no hope that any statute will ever give them a place within the recognition of civilized society. The Prophet of the Church rules with an absolute political power in Utah, with almost as much authority in Idaho and Wyoming, and with only a little less autocracy in parts of Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Was.h.i.+ngton, California, Arizona and New Mexico. He names the Representatives and Senators in Congress from his own state, and influences decisively the selection of such "deputies of the people" from many of the surrounding states. Through his amba.s.sadors to the government of the United States, sitting in House and Senate, he chooses the Federal officials for Utah and influences the appointment of those for the neighboring states and territories. He commands the making and unmaking of state law. He holds the courts and the prosecuting officers to a strict accountability. He levies tribute upon the people of Utah and helps to loot the citizens of the whole nation by his alliance with the political and financial Plunderbund at Was.h.i.+ngton. He has enslaved the subjects of his kingdom absolutely, and he looks to it as the destiny of his Church to destroy all the governments of the world and to subst.i.tute for them the theocracy--the "government by G.o.d" and administration by oracle--of his successors.
And yet, even so, I could not have recorded the incidents of this betrayal as mere matters of current history--and I would never have written them in vindication of myself--if I had not been certain that there is a remedy for the evil conditions in Utah, and that such a narrative as this will help to hasten the remedy and right the wrong.
Except for the aggressive aid given by the national administrations to the leaders of the Mormon Church, the people of Utah and the intermountain states would never have permitted the revival of a priestly tyranny in politics. Except for the protection of courts and the enforced silence of politicians and journalists, polygamy could not have been restored in the Mormon Church. Except for the interference of powerful influences at Was.h.i.+ngton to coerce the a.s.sociated Press and affect the newspapers of the country, the Mormon leaders would never have dared to defy the sensibilities of our civilization. Except for the greed of the predatory "Interests" of the nation, the commercial absolutism of the Mormon hierarchy could never have been established.
The present conditions in the Mormon kingdom are due to national influences. The remedy for those conditions is the withdrawal of national sympathy and support.
Break the power at Was.h.i.+ngton of Joseph F. Smith, ruler of the Kingdom of G.o.d, and every seeker after federal patronage in Utah will desert him. Break his power as a political partner of the Republican party now--and of the Democratic party should it succeed to office--and every ambitious politician in the West will rebel against his throne. Break his power to control the channels of public communication through interested politicians and commercial agencies, and the sentiment of the civilized world will join with the revolt of the "American movement" in Utah to overthrow his tyrannies. Break his connection with the illegal trusts and combines of the United States, and his financial power will cease to be a terror and a menace to the industry and commerce of the intermountain country.
The nation owes Utah such a rectification, for the nation has been, in this matter, a chief sinner and a strong encourager of sin. President Theodore Roosevelt, representing the majesty of the Republic, stayed us when we might have won our own liberties in the revolt that was provoked by the election of Senator Apostle Reed Smoot. Misled by political and personal advisers, the President procured delays in the Smoot investigation. He seduced senators from their convictions. He certified the amba.s.sador from the Kingdom of G.o.d as a qualified senator of the United States. He gave the hand of fellows.h.i.+p to Joseph, the tyrant of the Kingdom. He rebuked our friends and his own, in their struggle for our freedom, by warning them that they were raising the flag of a religious warfare. He filled the Mormon priests with the belief that they might proceed unrestrainedly to the sacrifice of women and children upon the polygamous altar, to the absolute rule of politics in the intermountain states, and to the commercial exploitation of their community in partners.h.i.+p with the trusts. The one policy that President Taft seems to have accepted unimpaired from his predecessor is this same respect for the power of the Mormon kingdom. In his placid but wholehearted way he has encouraged his co-ordinate ruler, the Mormon Prophet, and extended the Executive license to the support and inevitable increase of these religious tyrannies of the Mormon hierarchs which now the people of Utah, unaided, are wholly unable to combat.
And the nation owes such a rectification not only to Utah, but also to itself. The commercial and financial Plunderbund that is now preying upon the whole country is sustained at Was.h.i.+ngton by the agents of the Mormon Church. The Prophet not only delivers his own subjects up to pillage; he helps to deliver the people of the entire United States.
His senators are not representatives of a political party; they are the tools of "the Interests" that are his partners. The shameful conditions in Utah are not isolated and peculiar to that state; they are largely the result of national conditions and they have a national effect. The Prophet of Utah is not a local despot only: he is a national enemy; and the nation must deal with him.
I do not ask for a resumption of cruelty, for a return to proscription.
I ask only that the nation shall rouse itself to a sense of its responsibility. The Mormon Church has shown its ability to conform to the demands of the republic--even by "revelation from G.o.d" if necessary.
The leaders of the Church are now defiant in their treasons only because the nation has ceased to reprove and the national administrations have powerfully encouraged. As soon as the Mormon hierarchy discovers that the people of this country, wearied of violated treaties and broken covenants, are about to exclude the political agents of the Prophet from any partic.i.p.ation in national affairs, the advisers of his inspiration will quickly persuade him to make a concession to popular wrath. As soon as the "Interests" realize that the burden of shame in Utah is too large to be comfortable on their backs, they will throw it off. The President of the United States will be unable to gain votes by patronizing the crucifiers of women and children. The national administrations will not dare to stand against the efforts of the Gentiles and independent Mormons of Utah to regain their liberty. And Utah, the Islam of the West, will depose its old Sultan and rise free.
With this hope--in this conviction--I have written, in all candor, what no reasons of personal advantage or self-justification could have induced me to write. I shall be accused of rancor, of religious antagonism, of political ambition, of egotistical pride. But no man who knows the truth will say sincerely that I have lied. Whatever is attributed as my motive, my veracity in this book will not be successfully impeached. In that confidence, I leave all the attacks that guilt and bigotry can make upon me, to the public to whom they will be addressed. The truth, in its own time, will prevail, in spite of cunning. I am willing to await that time--for myself--and for the Mormon people.