MORMONISM, PRESENT AND FUTURE.
The destiny of this Republic has given cause to many a Jeremiad, abroad and at home. The lunatic who said—they think I am crazy, while I know they are crazy, typifies the wisdom of the great mass of Euro-pean publicists as regards this country, and may be applied with less force to some of our own writers and speakers. The leading literature of Great Britain, for example, the Edinburgh and London Quarterlies, Blackwood, The London Times newspaper, and a general chorus of less distinguished periodicals, up to this moment, have croaked about the nature and promise of our institutions. Our republicanism is called an experiment, which answered very well for a diffusely-peopled country, with new institutions, but in time it must prove unsuited to a thickly populated one, with a long train of antecedents and a varied store of annals. Unfortunately for the argument, it so happens that in those American States, where pop-ulation is thickest and the date of settlement extends farthest back, there exists the purest democracy and the best government. Witness Massachusetts. The name of that State alone is sufficient. It carries its reputation in full with it without a discourse.
Up to this time, in fact, no European has written understandingly of American institutions, and at home, even, Mr. Webster's speech on the Constitution, leaves a gulph yet to be filled up with new truths, when the full force of private effort, in contradistinction to Gov-ernment agency, and the Constitution itself shall be really understood. Indeed when we consider what indi-viduals have achieved of what was considered radi-cal and unalterable Government functions at the time that speech was delivered, we feel that a new era has dawned, and a new political philosophy is needed, not found in any written authority. Judge Story, too, was positively sorrow-ridden on the future of our institu-tions and did not penetrate their solution, or find that nine-tenths of the powers of the general Government will before a long time be cut down, and whatever valuable work they include be better executed by private individuals—and hence the corruptions at Washington with their ramifications throughout the States, cease to exist.
The solution of religious differences, the arrangement of hostile churches, the mode of preventing one persua-sion from getting the upper hand, absorbing the land and making the road to heaven clean and straight by statute, have given rise to many a foreign and domestic pang. Fear lest the Pope should get the better of Protestant-ism, and control our elections and finally destroy our liberties, has been the cause of tearful regret and lu-gubrious elegy enough to stock Greenwood Cemetery. Such mourners have not discovered that the fierceness of bigotry and the intolerance of a priesthood must, in this country, rankle just in proportion to hates and op-positions. Persecution is but the hoops of the barrel of any sectarian strength. The bitter partisanship of the Roman Catholics in Spain, (which according to Lamar-tine, himself a Catholic, was fast reducing her to the level of barbarous nations) was due chiefly to a reaction against the Moors. The cruelty of the Church of En-gland against the Irish Catholics, was a protest against the Spanish Armada and the Inquisition. In this coun-try we have nothing to fear. No merely sectarian newspaper can be supported if issued daily, and the real Government of the country lies in the daily press as the exponent of Public Will and Public Liberty. What have we to fear when it takes hundreds of church buildings with congregations of some one thousand each, (a huge average) preaching the most outrageous doctrines, or even Mormonism once a week, to coun-terbalance the liberalism and moral and religious influ-ence of one single widely-diffused American daily paper with our half a million readers!
We are led to these remarks by seeing in some Eng-lish journals a degree of editorial unhappiness on the solution of the Mormon problem. The rapid develop-ment of the Mormon community in all that constitutes material, power and prosperity, is admitted to be wor-thy a place in the annals of heroic pioneership and in-dustry. Beneath their stalwart hands the desert is made to blossom like the rose, and their skillful enter-prize is gradually making them independent of foreign manufacturers. All the external characteristics of a thriving, social State are found among them; but yet their existence contains elements that are held to be dangerous to the welfare of the country, and whose re-moval forms a very knotty and puzzling question. The standard ignorance of American principles, the usual failure to apprehend their practical working, and be-neficent, corrective influence, are strikingly manifested in regard to this subject.
The difficulties between the Mormons and the peo-ple of the other States are not difficult of reconcilia-tion, except in the matter of polygamy. On account of this peculiarity, it is suggested in some quarters that war must ultimately be made upon them, and their sect be put down by main force. And those who can-not quite approve so extreme a remedy, still regard the phenomena offered by the increase of the Mormon church with great anxiety. Both these classes of people overlook the fact that the evil in question needs only to be let alone in order in time to work its own cure. Wherever industry, newspapers, and the Eng-lish language exist, polygamy, no matter on what su-perstition and perverted appetites it is based, cannot stand against the progressive enlightenment of the people. It is a false institution, and carries within itself the certainty of its extinction. We must apply to it the democratic rule of liberty and reliance upon free discussion. Like the other ramifications and absurd features of the Mormon theocracy, it must be suffered to wear itself out from its own hostility to the culture and wants of a civilized people, and from the pressure of the superior manners and intelligence of society round it. If there be State interference, legal coercion, to oblige the Mormons to surrender their oriental interpretation of feminine character, it will create a book of martyrs for them, and prove a seed for their church, which will take centuries per-haps, to uproot. The way is to show to their women the folly of their degraded position in allowing them-selves to be considered unfit for heaven except as wives of he-saints. This can be done by gentle exam-ple and mild teaching—or at the worst by strong re-monstrance, but not by force. Christendom has been spitting on the Jews for eighteen hundred years; it has deprived them of all the ordinary avenues to honor and success; and yet the Jews flourish as a sect. So will it be with Mormonism, if persecution seek to eradicate polygamy and kindred errors.
And after all, the polygamy of Salt Lake Valley is not simply an outgrowth of Mormonism, but its exist-ence is due to the imperfect recognition of woman's rights in Christendom. Except in this country women cannot be said to have any rights, and even here they are scantily and grudgingly acknowledged, save in a few particulars. In Europe, women are normally bru-talized and degraded. Their natural protectors, or allies, men, are seized by conscript laws, severed from home during peace, and murdered or mutilated in war, and the women are reduced to the level of brute beasts.
If there be one occupation more foul and filthy than another, the chivalry of Europe assigns it to women. If Pandemonium in full council had been consulted to devise a condition of habitual dishonor and unde-viating degradation, it could not have conjured up a worse state for woman than that which elects her to fill offices of shame, dirt, hardship and bra-zen publicity. In this country, however, women are better off. True, they are taxed without represen-tation; they have no votes to contest with rum-hole par-tisanship or tobacco-squirting patriotism; but still the native instincts of democracy place woman above the fell shames and sorrows to which the system of Eu-rope consigns her. The exception to this, of course, is slavery, by which fifteen hundred thousand crea-tures of the sex and sympathies of our mothers, wives and daughters, are bought and sold like swine or oxen; and to question the godlike purity and political excel-lence of such treatment of that sex which has fired po-etry and prophecy with all that it can claim of the good and gentle, is to endanger the existence of the Union.
Out upon the execrable hypocrisy which cants with villainous whine over the polygamy of the Mormons, and justifies evils even more outrageous! Let us wipe off the stains and vices of slavery, and then our morality will be less pharisaic. Let us above all revere the tenderness and devotion of women. Let their innocence and simplicity be their sword and shield against all dishonor and outrage. Let their voice be heard as potent as that of conscience, though as still. Give them in Christendom—in republican Christendom—their due, irrespective of education, wealth, fashion, blood, or color, and the polygamy of the Mormons will melt into the yeasty waves of the sea of opinion which will everywhere roll around it.
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