AFFAIRS IN UTAH.
THE POLICY OF THE MORMON LEADERS.
FLIGHT OF BRIGHAM YOUNG—THE RECENT AR-RESTS—THE GENERAL IN COMMAND—A COM-PROMISE SUGGESTED.
SALT LAKE, NOV. 1.—The flight of Brigham Young has been reported to you by telegraph. It occurred in the early evening of Tuesday, Oct. 24, and was-as I am informed by one of the prominent brethren, only, decided upon on the morning of that day. The immedi-ate cause of this hasty action was the information that arrests of the Mormon leaders, under the indictments for murder found by the Grand Jury during the latter part of September, were about to be made. At that time the readers of THE TRIBUNE were informed, through this correspondence, that the leading Mormons claimed to be holding themselves ready for arrest on those charges at much personal inconvenience, and that no resistance nor evasion of legal process would be attempted. That non-resistance and non-evasion was then their intention is no doubt true. But the removal of Gen. De Trobriand from the position of Commander of Camp Douglas—the only place of secu-rity for prisoners in the Territory—the apparently biased rulings of the court in all actions in which Mor-mons were parties in interest; the growing feeling that conviction had been prearranged, added to the undigni-fied and offensive attitude of the court and its principal officers, induced a precipitate change of base. I am as sured that this new departure was not the free act of Brigham Young, but was urged upon him by his advisers and friends, who, while assert-ing their entire confidence in his innocence of the murders charged upon him, were fully convinced, from the unmistakable animus of the court, that a conviction would be secured even upon the unsupported testimony of the confessed murderer, Hickman, and that the life of Brigham was in imminent danger. Indeed, the exult-ant threats of the temporary prosecuting officers—acting by appointment of the court, and not by commission from the President—strongly sustained the view taken by Brigham's counselors. Conviction was conceded, and the fact that the officers of the Government were con-stant in their assertions that President Grant had au-thorized the pending actions, and was privy to the re-markable manner of conducting them, gave an air of probability to the threat that Brigham's life should shortly pay the forfeit for the many crimes alleged against him.
The prevailing sentiment in official circles may be gathered from a remark made by a zealous and in-fluential friend of conviction at any sacrifice of dig-nity and fair-dealing, during the pendency of the motion of Brigham's counsel to quash the indictment against him for lascivious cohabitation with his plural wives—that they need not bother themselves with that question as Brigham would be hung before Christmas for abetting Hickman in the murder of Yates, which would effectually suspend him as well as all proceedings against him. The fact of Brigham's secret and sudden departure was not generally known until the morning of Friday, the 27th ult., and the explanation given by his friends was that he had merely left on his usual annual tour to the Southern settlements, having sought in vain to have a day fixed by the court for his trial on the charge of lascivious intercourse, for which he was at large on $5,000 bail.
It, however, soon became necessary to admit that his departure was at least hastened by the fears of his friends and advisers that a fair trial on any charge, by the U. S. Courts as at present constituted, was not possible, and that his punishment was predetermined on the attenuated evidence known by the court to exist. His friends—as well as many who would not care to be ranked as such, but who believe in fair dealing, and that the Government can better afford to wait months and years if need be to convict and punish criminals than secure success by the mere exercise of power, the misconstruction of precedents, and the sharp de-vices of tricky attorneys—these classes justify his hurried departure, and believe that his absence will secure a season of comparative peace for the people of this immediate vicinity. It is known that Brigham is quietly journeying in his private carriage southward through the Mormon settlements, and that he expects to pass next Sunday, the 5th inst., in St. George, the heart of the Mormon "Dixie," and the center of the Utah cot-ton fields, over 300 miles south of this city, and near the Arizona border. If pursued, as does not seem probable, he will pass over the Arizona line, and there await a re-quisition upon Gov. Safford for his return. Time, which the Mormons feel confident will solve every problem in their favor, will thus be gained, and the hope now upper-most in their hearts, that Congress, at its approaching session, will take some action in their behalf and save them from their present persecutors, will seem to them likely to be realized.
There is no doubt that the Mormons have been much depressed since the removal of Gen. De Trobriand and the return of Gen. Morrow. The former was looked upon rather as the friend of the Mormons than of their oppo-nents. It was charged that, while that officer was at all times accessible to the Mormons and their sympathizers, he could not be approached as readily by their enemies. Gen. Morrow does not credit this assertion, and is utterly at a loss to determine why the change should have been made. He left the command of this post in July last, and had scarcely become comfortably established at Fort Steele, on the Union Pacific Railroad, when the order for the retransfer reached him. While I do not think that the charge of partiality in favor of the Mormons against Gen. De Trobriand is well grounded, I am still of the opinion that the change is a good one. Gen. Morrow was a lawyer and a judge before he became a General, and is a diplomat by nature. To him the poorest and the most obscure can freely come for a kindly hearing. But he is very careful to commit him- self to none, and this reticence seems to have alarmed the Mormons, who in these troublous times look with suspicion upon all save their outspoken friends. To my mind, however, the advent of Gen. Morrow at this criti-cal period, should rather be a subject of congratulation by the Mormons, as it is by the unprejudiced outsiders in the Territory. The result of his presence is apparent in the tone now assumed by Chief-Justice McKean, his intimate personal friend, for whom his youngest son is named. The Bar here seem to agree—and his asso-ciates upon the bench appear to concur in the opinion—that Judge McKean does not possess sound legal knowl-edge, and his best friends do not deny that he is lacking somewhat in that discretion the exercise of which is so important in a high judicial officer. That he is honest none but the Mormons will probably deny; that his zeal has in some measure distorted his judgment and rendered him incapable of administering the law without equivo cation or unfairness, will be admitted, I think, by every candid mind conversant with the facts. The influence of Gen. Morrow, who, while confessedly an excellent lawyer and jurist, is also above the current of active, zealous, and undignified partisanship, the effect of which it is almost impossible for any civil officer to escape, is already manifested in the action of the Judge in the case of Daniel H. Wells, and in the altered tone of that portion of the newspaper press which is said to gather its pabu-lum and receive its inspiration from the court and its officers. However the Mormons may feel, the true friends of the Government must rejoice at the presence of Gen. Morrow, and receive from his proximity a new assurance that, in the enforcement of law, reason will prevail over passion, prejudice, and indiscreet zeal.
Let me not omit to state that by the flight of Brigham, one vexed question is settled—that of the payment of the expenses of the United States Courts. Like almost every other enterprise in which considerable expense is involved, Brigham becomes the heaviest stockholder. His departure leaves his bondsmen liable for the $5,000—the amount of bail exacted by Judge McKean on the “lascivious cohabitation" matter. These bondsmen are good for a hundred times the amount, and no suit will be necessary upon the bond. Of course Brigham will really provide the funds, and will thus supply the court with those sinews of war without which even civil causes languish, and justice becomes measurably paralyzed. The money is sadly needed to meet long-standing arrear-ages due to witnesses, jurors, bailiffs, and other attend-ants, and will be none the less enjoyed because drawn from the plethoric pockets of the Mormon chief.
It is a little curious that while the feeling in the com- munity, not only among the Mormons, but throughout the Gentile circles, is that the severest punishment will be meted out to Brigham, no particular fears seem to exist on the part of the Mormons that the life of anybody else is in danger from the action of the courts. Of course Brigham, being the greatest man among them, is of ne-cessity the greatest criminal, and in his person the sins of the people must be chiefly punished. It is not unnatu-ral that venom should lose something of its virulence, and that the keenness of the edge of hatred should be blunted when the object of attack is a comparatively ob-scure sinner, in the person of a modern "Saint."
Thus when Daniel H. Wells, Hosea Stout, and William H. Kimball were arrested for murder on Saturday evening last, they each and all smilingly accompanied the Mar-shal and his deputies to the court-room, and from thence to Camp Douglas, where they became the guests of the General commanding until Monday morning, when they were conveyed to the city on a writ of habeas corpus, to enable the counsel for the defense to argue the question of bail. The charges against Wells and Stout are identical with that for which Brigham was indicted, viz. participation in the murder of Yates in 1857. The accusation against Kim-ball, who is the eldest son of the late Heber C. Kimball, a President of the Church, is that he aided in the mur-der of one Buck, near the Warm Springs in this city, in 1858. The witness relied upon to prove these crimes is, according to the indictment, the notorious Bill Hickman, of whom I have heretofore spoken, and who confesses himself to have been the principal actor in the bloody deeds. The result of the application for bail to be taken in the case of Wells was successful, and the amount, $50,000, was instantly furnished by William Jennings, a millionaire, and Horace S. Eldredge, Vice-President of the bank of which Brigham is President. Had the sum been a million it would have been forthcoming with as little delay. The wonder on all sides is that bail was accepted at all. The fact of accepting bail from a person charged with the high crime of murder, not less than the reason assigned by the Chief-Justice for admit-ting the accused to bail, may perhaps be taken as an in-dication of the real sentiment of the court as to the crim-inality of the prisoner. The ground of his action, as stated by the Chief-Justice, was that Wells was Mayor of the city, and that it would be inconvenient for him to exercise the functions of that office while incarcerated at a distance! It seems that though Hickman says Wells is a bloody murderer, and the Grand Jury on their oaths declare that they believe the assertion, he is yet a good enough fellow for Mayor of a city famous for its police regulations and general good government. Wells treats the matter in a pleasant way, declaring not only his innocence of the crime charged, but his utter ignorance of any fact connected with the bloody deed. He expresses his de-sire to be tried upon that or any kindred charge, pro-vided he can have a fair trial and a judgment upon such evidence as would be accepted in any case of importance elsewhere. He declares—and his declaration is sustained by the majority of the Gentiles—that Hickman's state-ment under oath would not be taken by any human being on earth in a matter involving $20, while at the same time he confesses that the court, as at present con-stituted, would be quite likely to secure his conviction even upon the evidenee alluded to. Still another parti-ceps criminis in this Yates murder, Hosea Stout, is a lawyer, a clever, indolent fellow, but with a good deal of positive force when aroused. He is one of Brigham's counsel in the cohabition case, and is also employed in others of the pending suits. He will have abundant time for the preparation of his cases in his quiet retreat at Camp Douglas, bail having been refused in his case as well as in the case of Kimball. Stout takes the whole matter good-naturedly, and says that if he killed Yates he did it in his sleep. A friend of Stout, who has known him from boyhood, remarks that if the killing of Yates involved any actual labor, any physical exertion, "Hosea," as he is generally called, had no hand in it, as he is too lazy to exert himself. The fact is, the whole matter is made a subject of ridicule by all classes, except perhaps a very limited circle about the court, who affect to believe that there may be some-thing in the charges. The leading spirit in influencing the Grand Jury is, of course, the Prosecuting Attorney, who, in this case, happens to be a bitter partisan, a poor lawyer, and a man of very dubious character.
The telegraphic announcement that George C. Bates, of Chicago, has been appointed by the President to the vacant post of United States District-Attorney in Utah, is hailed with supreme satisfaction by the Mormons, who assert that the father of all evil could not treat them more insultingly than has the present ad interim official. To every lover of good government it is a satis-faction to believe that a Territory—that asylum for troublesome and decayed politicians—and especially this Territory, where, more than elsewhere, high legal ac-quirements and good judgment are demanded, is to be favored with a competent legal officer. Should Mr. Bates accept the position, as it is hoped he will consent to do, he will at once become the central figure in the Territory, and the good which it will be in his power to do can scarcely be computed. The Mormons, one and all, declare their entire willingness to stand a trial on any and all charges, if they can feel assured that the actions will be fairly tried and decided according to law and evidence. The hope which they have in the action of Congress is based upon the assurance of some prominent Republican members of both Houses, that an act shall be passed, early in the coming session, providing for appeals in all criminal cases, from the Supreme Courts of the Territories to the Supreme Court of the United States. Leading Mor-mons declare that they would not shrink from trial on any charge, whether it were polygamy, or the more serious one now pending in the case of Wells and others, if an appeal could be taken to an impartial tribunal, such as they admit the United States Supreme Court to be. In fact, it is said that they would at once abandon polygamy if a test case, carried up to that tribunal, were decided against them. They do not admit that they would relinquish the plural wife system as an article of faith, but their leaders seem in no way averse to a ces-sation of the practice whenever it shall ap-pear that the highest court in the land has de-clared this part of their religious system a crime, and has sustained the validity of the act of Congress which provides for its punishment. To my mind this would afford a practical and simple solution of the whole prob-lem, and take the offensive subject out of the range of discussion.
Polygamy is nearly dead; actual statistics, covering many families, show that the number of plural wives has diminished more than 60 per cent during the last ten years, notwithstanding the great increase in population. The most wealthy and intelligent among the Mormons are quietly shirking the "religious duty" of adding wives to the flock, and are seem-ingly inclined to risk their souls' salvation with only one wife. The young people pie of both sexes are not averse to saying that they don't believe in polygamy, and the more sensible of all classes concede that it is far better to have a small family and care for and educate it, than to bring into being a vast herd of boys and girls whose very numbers preclude the possibility of parental direction and oversight. It is en-tirely safe to predict that there will not be 200 plural wives in Utah on the occasion of the celebration of the centenary of the Republic, unless the rapidly-decaying and surely-doomed system be galvanized into a sem-blance of life by acts of persecution. The signs of the times were never more hopeful in this regard than at the period of the commencement of the recent ill-judged measures on the part of the courts. But for these, Pres-ident Grant could have truthfully announced in his forthcoming message to Congress that this relic of a bar-baric age was virtually extinct. It could be settled in a day, on the basis of forgiveness for all past offenses and a total abandonment of the uncivilized and un-Christian practice for all time to come.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.