POLYGAMY IN UTAH.
THE DUTY OF CONGRESS IN THE PREMISES.
Having on a former occasion discussed at some length the domestic institutions of the Mormons, and entered a protest against the admission of Utah into the confederacy until thoroughly purged of the shocking licentiousness which now makes her "a hissing and a by-word" among the territo-ries of the United States, we propose to present a single consideration in connec-tion with the subject, which is now one of unquestionably grave importance, and near-ly concerns the moral purity and character of the country.
Is it not the incumbent duty of govern-ment, in the exercise of its legitimate pow-ers, to suppress and extinguish this revolt-ing state of things, while Utah still re-mains in its territorial condition? Admit it as a State, and the power of Congress to regulate, or in any degree control its af-fairs, at once ceases. Clothed with the sovereignty of an independent and coequal member of the Union, its laws are no longer subject to revision, and it may, through its legislature, legalize in terms, what is now only recognized by indirect and collateral enactments. And who can question but that this would be done? We cannot close our eyes to the fact, that this anomolous people are rapidly gaining in strength and numbers; that they are becoming a most powerful sect and dangerous community. And it cannot be doubted that when pos-sessed of all the attributes and powers of a separate sovereignty, they will at once secure to themselves the unrestrained and unmolested exercise of a practice, which is considered throughout Christendom as a high offence against public morals and mu-nicipal law. If Congress, while possessing the power to suppress the evil, fails or neg-lects to exercise that power, there are those who will say that by this neglect they be-come partakers of the guilt, shame and opprobium. Avoiding altogether the polit-ical aspect of the case, the principle of self-government and the inherent power of Congress to control the territories, utter-ly disclaiming any desire or intention to meddle with the vexed question of the right of Congress to legislate in respect, to the municipal concerns of the people residing in the territories, to regulate local and do-mestic matters, and govern the persons oc-cupying the same, it is plain and undenia-ble, that by its power of revision, it has a control and authority which, though limited in character, is absolute and precise. While freely admitting that Congress has no pow-er over the natural and personal rights of the inhabitants of a territory, it unques-tionably possesses a control over its legis-lature. The political power of a territory, its legislative authority, it receives from Congress by the act of its creation, and the powers thus derived are always subject to the supervision and control of the authori-ty conferring them. The act by which a territorial government was established in Utah, requires that its laws shall be sub-mitted to Congress for approval, and it is not known that so far they have ever been approved. Some who are disposed to treat this matter daintily, insist that until this approval, they are inoperative, and that polygamy is not therefore recognized by the territorial law, but an inspection of the law will prove this opinion incorrect. The act organizing the territory of Utah provides that "all the laws passed by the Legisla-tive Assembly and Governor shall be sub-mitted to the Congress of the United States, and if disapproved of, shall be null and of no effect." A law then which has been passed by the territorial government of Utah, is the law of that territory until dis-approved of by Congress, and the laws re-cognizing the existence of polygamy in Utah are in full operation and effect. It may be added that so long as Congress re-frains from placing upon these laws the brand of its emphatic and indignant disap-probation, it is fair to infer that in the opinion of Congress they contain nothing objectionable. It will probably be objected, that if Congress should declare a plurality of wives improper and unlawful, by disap-proving these laws, the territory when ad- mitted, might in its new and sovereign ca-pacity, re- enact such laws and more firmly establish this odious and disreputable sys-tem. The possibility of this has already been alluded to, and while the population of Utah is composed of a mixed multitude of irresponsible adventurers, half frantic enthusiasts, fanatics and bigots, despotical-ly governed by knavish and licentious lead-ers, nothing is more likely than such an event. Still the determined and energetic action of Congress, may exert an influence potent to suppress the evil, and open the way for the influx of a class of emigrants who are now deterred from entering the territory by the profligacy of its inhabit-ants and laws, and who might prove a most valuable leaven to the whole lump of terri-torial corruption. But the probable action of the prospective State, only strengthens the position assumed by us originally, that the territory should not be admitted as a state, with these vile enactments unrepealed upon her statute book, and without some assurance before her admission that a new system of morals was certain to be inaugur-ated. And in no view of the case, can these considerations affect the duty of Con-gress in the premises; and the representa-tives of a refined, civilised and Christian people, cannot consistently evade the duty which they owe to the cause of sound morals and the good name of the country.
In encountering the perplexing difficul-ties incident to our unexampled increase of territory, it would be wise- at times to look back and contemplate the early history of the country, to recur to the precepts and principles inculcated fey the statesmen who lived in the pure and palmy days of the re- public; and who would have promptly de-nounced enormities, such as are now under discussion, as utterly subversive of govern-ment, law, social order, purity, religion, and the ordinary decencies of life. To learn what was then the policy of government, on the subject of legislating for territories, and preparing them to become republican states of the Union, it would be difficult to dis-cover a better rule to guide and instruct our public men in their duty towards our territories, than that furnished by the fa-mous ordinance of 1787. That ordinance as it is well known, was adopted by the old Congress of the Confederation, and at once ratified by that, which first assembled un- der the constitution. It provided for the government of the North-West Territory, from which no less than five of the states of this Union have been formed; and laid down certain articles of fundamental rights; to be forever secured by the government to the people, and we barn from it, what at that day was thought necessary to good re-publican institutions. It not only pledged the government to the extension in the ter-ritory of the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which formed the basis on which these republics were erect-ed; but solemnly enunciated the great prin-ciple that: "Religion, morality, and know-ledge" were "NECESSARY to good govern-ment and the happiness of mankind.''
If this principle was true in 1787, it is no less so in 1857. If it was applicable to the territories of that day, it is equally so to those of this. Judge Utah by this stan-dard, and say whether she possesses the re-quisites "to good government and the hap- piness" of her citizens, and whether without these requisites her application for admission can be listened to, without a re-pudiation of the ancient and wholesome policy of the government. "Certainly " said a member of Congress while addressing the House of Representatives on the affairs of this territory: "Certainly, sir, they do not mean by religion and morality, MORMON-ISM and POLYGAMY."
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