THE STATE OF THINGS IN UTAH.
Correspondence of The N. Y. Tribune.
GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, NOV. 3, 1856.
After reading the discourses of Brigham Young respecting the discontent among the women, which you probably received in last month's mail, it may not be uninteresting to know the more immediate cause of these passionate declarations and threats of the Mormon Prophet, although you will find that no allusion has since been made to the promised manumission of Utah's white slaves.
Brigham resides in a large two-story house some fifty feet square, built in a neat style, and furnished as sumptuously as the country can afford. In this house lives with him his wife (for although he has more than sixty concubines, she alone is recognized as a wife, the others are called "spirituals") and her four children, two girls and two boys. She is not, however, his first wife, for when she married Brigham he was a widower with three children—two girls and a boy—who are now all married. His "spirituals," or, as they are sometimes called, "fixins," occupied small houses in the neighbor-hood of the gubernatorial mansion, living generally two or three in a house; but Brigham found that as the population of the city increased this plan did not suit—his fixins had too much liberty; in fact, they would, as he expressed it, allow brethren to "get between their sheets." He therefore had a large establishment built adjoining his residence, containing sixty small rooms, then surrounded the whole premises with a stone wall twenty feet in hight. Into this harem he proposed to put the ma-jority of his spirituals, make them take turns in cooking, washing, &c., and thus have them under his own immediate supervision. The females, how-ever, with unpardonable obstinacy, refused to enter into this arrangement; and, although finally com-pelled to, did so not without much grumbling and "whining." This circumstance called forth the sympathy of their sisters in misery, and the Prophet found it necessary to thunder his anathemas upon their unprotected heads. They say no more; the fire is smothered, not quenched.
I am told by an eye-witness of the scene that Brigham, walking down the street a few days since, met a little boy returning from the mountain side with a few cows which he had been herding. Struck with something in his appearance, the prophet stopped and called out, "Here, sonny! tell me, now, whose son you are." The little curly-headed urchin answered, "Ma tells me I'm brother Young's son, but you ought to know who I am." The seer knew not his own child!
Brigham Young and his associates seem deter-mined to drive all the Gentiles out of the Territory. They have made an attempt during the past month to forcibly take possession of a tannery owned by a Gentile now in the States. Resistance being made by the gentleman's agent and some of his friends, they were arrested and fined $300 a piece, the Mormon Judge going even to the length of fining the agent's lawyer the same amount for giving legal advice in the matter. This is not, however, sur-prising to us, when we see cases in which a person arrested on the complaint of some good Mormon, who may have a spite against him, is compelled to pay one-half of the costs, although no cause of ac-tion is found against him, and the good Mormon is never made to pay the other half.
A more serious charge against the Mormon lead-ers than this, however, more fully illustrates the ends desired by them. The Surveyor-General and the Indian Agent, the only remaining Gentile offi- cers in this Territory, while on an excursion to the valleys south, visited the Pah-vant tribe of Indians. (This is the tribe charged with the massacre of Capt. Gunnison and his party). They were accom- panied by the chief of the Peteetneet tribe, who rode to the village some distance ahead of the party, and much to his astonishment found the Indians arming themselves, evidently bent on some hostile undertaking. On inquiring the reason, they told him that an express had just been there from Fill- more City, stating that the party was coming down to arrest them for the murder of Gunnsion, and advising them to anticipate such an approach and resist it; and the Peteetneet chief had the greatest difficulty in disabusing their minds before the party arrived. Ka-nosh, the chief of the Pah-vants, is a Mormon, having been baptized by Brigham him- self.
Brigham Young, accompanied by his counselors and several of the principal men of the church, left here on the 13th to visit the Shoshonee or Snake Indians—a powerful tribe occupying the country north and east of Salt Lake Valley, who resisted all the attempts made to introduce Mormonism among them. The party, however, returned on the 15th, in consequence of the illness of Brigham. He has since entirely recovered.
In connection with this, I will give you a little circumstance which came to my notice. Comment upon it is unnecessary. A party of emigrants on their way to California found it convenient to pass through this place. A day or two before reaching the city, the small-pox broke out among them, and they accordingly camped in the suburbs of the city, to rest and procure the necessary medical assist-ance. The physicians attending them naturally sought to find out the origin of this disease, which seemed to have generated in the party. Upon in-vestigation, they found that a few days previous to the breaking out of the malady the little boy who was first seized with it had picked up on the road, near a camp of the Shoshonee Indians, a large and unusually fine bead. This bead he still had in his possession, and on examination the physicians found it to be filled with small-pox virus, the ends being stopped with cotton. Whence came this bead? Not from the Indian camp, for they hate the small-pox more than anything else on earth—so many of them having been swept off by its ravages; and it is very improbable that emigrants should carry such a thing put up in such a manner. The theory is that it must have been placed there by Mormons, in the hope that they would thus implant the seeds of that dreadful disease among these Indians, whom they have been unable to make tools of.
Alice Young, Brigham's eldest daughter by his first wife, was sealed a short time since to Hyrum Claw-son, a pimp or spy of the Governor, as his third wife. Miss Alice was first engaged to a young sergeant in the army, who came to the Valley with Capt. Beckwith, and joined the Mormons in order to secure her. As soon as his term expired he re-turned to Salt Lake, to be rejected. She, in the meanwhile, had engaged to marry a young Mor- mon named Wright, upon the condition that he would go on a mission to Australia and serve faith-fully for three years. He accordingly started last Spring, but will be doomed to disappointment, for Brigham has found it necessary to practice as well as preach.
If an “Apostle of the Lord” covets another man’s wife, or “spiritual," and she refuses his advances, or if the husband is likely to be troublesome, re-course is had to a system which has been sanctioned and practiced by the authorities of the Church. The husband will be sent on a mission, and, of course, dies or disappears! The sainted Apostle then reveals to the woman that her late husband committed some enormity which has sent him to the infernal regions, but if she will marry him she will be sure to go to heaven, and also secure the salvation of her late husband. But if (as is gen-erally the case) she favors his advances, they go and get Brigham's consent, and their secret meet-ings are considered perfectly lawful, provided they stand high in the Church and are firm in the faith!
We have had some very cold weather during the past month, snow having fallen to the depth of a foot in the valleys and from three to eight feet deep in the mountains. By the latest accounts from the Third Hand-cart Company which is now between Green and Bear Rivers we hear that they are suf-fering dreadfully from cold and hunger. The train, contained 370 adults and a large number have per-ished. This news has created some excitement among the people and a great many teams with pro- visions have been sent out to their assistance. Of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Hand-cart Companies we have heard nothing. They are far in the rear, and if they have not stopped at Fort Laramie will all perish. Beside these there are several wagon companies, and the number of emigrants yet on the Plains is estimated at 1,200. You will perhaps have later news from them through the carrier of the Eastern mail which left here the 1st, as he will pass them on his route.
I have noticed articles in Mormon papers from the States denying the existence of Slavery in this Territory, but their mendacity in this as in all cases where their institutions are concerned is notorious. There are many slaves now owned here both Ne-groes and Indians, and tbey are as much an article of sale as any other property.
It is true that the number of negro slaves is com-paratively small, probably less than one hundred; but this scarcity arises more from the poverty of the people than from any aversion they have to Slavery. Their laws sanction it, and their religion inculcates the idea that they (the Africans) are an inferior race of being, and that this inferiority will continue in the next world.
I suppose that not less than four hundred Indian children are held in bondage under the pretense of apprenciceship! These children are purchased from the Indians (who steal them from the neigh-boring tribes) for sums varying from $20 to $40 apiece. This traffic is thus encouraged by Mor-mons, and in fact sanctioned by their laws.
In regard to the Mormon children, they appear like a neglected, uncared-for set, generally dirty and ill-clad. The majority of them are girls, and this troubles the women very much, for they know that a female is doomed to slavery and a life of mis- ery. It is also a singular fact that a large propor-tion of them are white-headed. These children are suffered to grow up in ignorance and vice. With-out the hallowed influence of home to restrain them they are vicious, profane and obscene. Some of the worst language I ever heard fell from the lips of urchins in the street; but, when the most profane and indecent language is heard in their Tabernacle, and all other public meetings, no one can expect any other result. The Mormons boast or exult in calling things, as they say, by their right names; all parts of the human body are spoken of familiarly, in terms that would make anybody but a Mormon blush, and they say it is a part of their duty, if not of their religion, to teach their children a knowledge of the "issues of life," as they term it.
As to education, there is none here. You may have heard of the "University of Deseret," with its Chancellor and Professors, and I know not how many high-sounding offices, and also of the pro-posed donation of Congress* to it; but it is all a sham. There is no such University here except in name. They boast abroad of their common, schools. They consist of edifices built in each Ward called school-houses; but these are in nearly every instance used for the sole purpose of holding what they term “Ward meetings;" and yet heavy taxes are collected throughout the Territory osten-sibly for school purposes. It is the settled policy of the priesthood to keep the people in ignorance and poverty, for it is then easier to rule them.
These facts show the importance of the imme-diate attention of the American Government and people to the affairs of this Territory. What can be expected of this people, even if they should throw off the abominable Mormon despotism under which they are now groaning. They are nearly all foreigners of the lowest class—an ignorant, but in-dustrious, hard-working people. Accustomed from their youth to be guided and ruled in all po-litical matters, they are ignorant of the first princi-ples of self-government.
Uninstructed in respect to our institutions and the workings of our system of government, they are daily counseled to hate and despise it. These prin-ciples taught to the parents are by them instilled in the minds of their children, who, brought up with-out even a common education, are ready adepts in learning anything vicious or demoralizing. More-over it is to be remembered that they are com- pletely isolated, and that there is no external influ-ence to modify these circumstances; all the news they receive from the world is through the medium of the Church newspaper, which is the only one in the Territory.
Whet then is to be expected from them if as some writers propose they are left to themselves to work out their own ends?
We want here the Bible, a Free Press, faithful Missionaries, and a complete system of education, so that old and young may receive instruction. But these things cannot be had without a complete change in the administration of the laws, and the entire separation of Church and State.
* That donation has been granted by Congress.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.