COLFAX ON POLYGAMY.
Speech of the Vice-President in Salt Lake City—The Mormons Attacked for the First Time on Their Own Ground.
At Salt Lake City, on Tuesday evening, Octobers, Vice-President Colfax made the following speech from the portico of the Townsend House, and before a large audience of Gentiles and Mormons gathered to see and hear him:
FELLOW-CITIZENS: I come hither in response to your call to thank the band from Camp Douglas for the serenade with which they have honored me, and to tender my obligations to the thousands before me, for having come from their homes and places of business “to speed the parting guest." As I stand before you to-night my thoughts go back to the first view I ever had of Salt Lake City, four years ago last June. After travelling with my companions, Governor Bross and Mr. Bowles, who are with me again, and Mr. Richardson, whose ab-sence we have all regretted, over arid plains, and alkali valleys, end barren mountains, day after day, our stage coach emerged from a canon one morning, and we looked down upon your city, covering miles in its area, with its gardens green with fruit trees and shrobbery, and the Jordan, flashing in the sun beyone. And when, after stopping at Camp Douglas, which overlooks your city, to salute the flag of our country, and to honor the officers and soldiers who keep watch and ward over it at the distant post, we drove down with your Common Council to the city, and saw its wide streets, and the streams which irrigate your gardens, rippling down all of them in their pebbly beds, I felt indeed that you had a right to regard it as a Palmyra in the desert. Returning now, with my family and friends, from a long jour-ney on the Pacific coast, extending north to where the Columbia River tears its way through the mighty mountain range which bars the way for all other rivers from the British to the Mexican line, we came to your city by the stage route from the rail-road, through the fertile region that lines your lake shore, and find it as beautiful an attractive in its affluence of fruits and flowers as when we first visited it. I am gratified too, that our present visit occurred at the same time with your territorial fair, enabling us to witness your advance in the various branches of Indussry. I was specially interested in the hours I spent there yesterday with some of your leading citizens, in your cotton manu-factures from the cotton you raise in southern Utah, your woolen manufactures, the silk manufacture you have recently inaugurated, your leather and harness, the porcelain, which was new to me, yovr furniture, your paintings, and pictures, the fancy work of the ladies, and the fruits and vegetables which tell their own story of the fertility of your soil. I rejoice over every indication of progress and self-reliance in all parts of the Union, and hope you may realize, by further devel-opment, how wise and beneficial such advancement is to communities like yours, remote from the more thickly settled portions of the republic. I have en-joyed the opportunity, also, of visiting your taber-nacle, erected since I was here before, the largest building in which religious services are held on the continent, and of listening to your organ, constructed here, which, in its mammoth size, its volume of sound, and sweetness of tone, would compare favorably with any in the largest cities in the Union. Nor did I feel any the less interest on my present than on my former visit in listening to your leading men in their places of worship, as they expounded and defended their faith and practice, because that faith and practice differed so widely from my own. Believing in free speech, as all of us should, I listened attentively, respect-fully, and courteously to what failed to convince my mind, and you will doubtless hear me with equal pa-tience while I tell you frankly wherein we differ. But first let me say that I have no strictures to utter as to your creed on any really religious question. Our land is a land of civil and reli-gious liberty, and the faith of every man is a matter between himself and God alone. You have as much riget to worship the Creator through a president and twelve apostles of your church or-ganization as I have through the ministers and elders and creed of mine. And this right I would defend for you with as much zeal as the right of every other denomination throughout the land. But our country is governed by law, and no assumed revelation jus-tifies any one in trampling on the law. If it did, every wrong-doer would use that argument to pro-tect himself in his disobedience to it. The Consti-tion declares, in the most emphatic language, that that instrument and the laws made in conformity thereto, shall be the supreme 13w of the land. Whether liked or disliked, they bind the forty millions of people who are subject to that supreme law. If any one condemns them as un-constitutional, the courts of the United States are open, before which they can test the question. But, till they are decided to be in conflict with the Con-stitution, they are binding upon you in Utah as they are on me in the District of Columbia, or on the citizens of Idaho and Montana. Let me refer now to the law of 1862, against which you especially complain, and which you denounce Congress for enacting. It is obeyed in the other territories of the United States, or, if disobeyed, its violation is punished. It is not obeyed here, and, though you often speak of the persecutions to which you were subject in the earlier years of your church, you can-not but acknowledge that the conduct of the gov-ernment and the people of the United States towards you, in your later years, has been one of toleration, which you could not have realized in any other of the civilized nhtions of the world. I do not concede that the institution you have established here, and which is condemned by law, is a question of religion. But to you who do claim it as such, I reply that the law you denounce only re-enacts the original pro-hibitions of your own Book of Mormon, on its 118th page, * and your Book of Doctrines and Covenants, in its chapter on marriage; and these are the in-spired records, as you claim them, on which your church was organized. The Book of Mormon, on the same page, speaks twice of the conduct of David and Solomon, as "a grosser crime," and those who follow their practice as “waxing in iniquity." The Book of Doctrines and Covenants is the dis-cipline and creed of their Church; and in its chapter on marriage, it declares, that as the Mor-mon Church has been charged with the crimes of fornication and of polygamy, it is avowed as the law of the church that a man shall have but one wife, and a woman but one husband, till death shall part them. I know you claim that a subsequent—
* The Book of Mormon denounces David and Solomon for having "many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord." "Whereupon I, the Lord God, will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. Wherefore, my brethren, hear me and hearken to the word of the Lord; for there shall not any man among you have save but one wife, and concu-bines be shall have none, for I, the Lord, delighteth in the chastity of women.”
revelation annulled all this; but I use these citations to show that the Congressional law, which you denounce, only enacted what was the original and publicly proclaimed and printed creed on which your church was founded. And yet, while you assume that this latter revelation gives you the right to turn your back on your old faith and to disobey the law, you would not yourselves tolerate others in assuming rights for themselves under re-velations they might claim to have received, or under religions they might profess. The Hindoos claim, as part of their religion, the right to burn widows with the dead bodies of their husbands. If they were to attempt it here, as their religion, you would prevent it by force. If a new revelation were to be proclaimed here, that the strong men should have the right to take the wives of the weaker men, that the learned men should take the wives of the unlearned, that the rich men should take the wives of the poor, that those who were powerful and in-fluential should have the right to command the labor and the service of the humbler, as their bond-slaves, you would spurn it, and would rely upon the law and the power of the United States to protect you. But you argue that it is a restraint on indi-vidual freedom; and that it concerns only your-selves. Yet you justify these restraints on indi-vidual freedom in every thing else. Let me prove this to you. If a man came here and sought to establish a liquor saloon on Temple street without licene, you would justify your common council, which is your municipal congress, in suppressing it by force, and punishing the offender besides. Another one comes here and says that he will pur-sue his legitimate avocation of bone-boiling on a lot in the heart of your city. You would expect your council to prevent it and why? Because you believe it would be offensive to society and to the people around him. And still another says that, as an American citizen, he will establish a powder mill on a lot he has purchased, next door to this hotel, where we have been so hospitably entertained. You would demand that this should be prevented, because it was obnoxious to the best interests of the commu-nity. I might use other illustrations as to personal conduct which you would insist should be restrained, although it fettered personal freedom, and the wrong-doer might say only concerned himself. But I have adduced sufficient to justity Congress in an enactment they deemed wise for the whole people for whom they legislated. And I need not go further to adduce other arguments as to the elevation of wo-man; for my purpose has been in these remarks, to indicate the right of Congress to pass the law and to insist on obedience to it. One thing I must allude to, personal to myself. The gapers have published a discourse delivered last April by your highest ec-clesiastical authority, which stated that the Presi-dent and Vice-President of the United States were both gamblers and drunkards. (Voices in the crowd, “He did not say so"). I had not heard before that it was denied; but I am glad to hear the denial now. Whether denied or not, however, I did not intend to answer railing with railing, nor personal attack with invective. I only wished to state publicly in this city, where the charge is said to have been made, that it was utterly untrue as to Presi-dent Grant; and as to myself, that I never gambled to the value of a farthing, and have been a total ab-stinence man all the years of my manhood. How-ever I may differ on political questions or others from any portion of my countrymen, no one has ever truthfully assailed my character. I have val-ued a good character far more than political reputa-tion or official honors, and wish to preserve it unspotted while life shall last. A few words more and I must conclude. When our party visited you four years ago, we all believed that, under wise counsels, your city might become the great city of the interior. But you must allow me to say that you do not seem to have improved these opportunities as you might have done. What you should do to develope the advan-tages your position gives you, seems obvious. You should encourage, and not discourage, competition in trade. You shouid welcome, and not repel, in-vestments from abroad. You should discourage every effort to drive capital from your midst. You should rejoice at the opening of every new store, or factory, or mechanic shop, by whomsoever con-ducted. You should seek to widen the area of country dependent on your city for supplies. You should realize that wealth will come to you only by development, by unfettered competition, by increased capital. Before the completion of the railroad, your isolation could be maintained. Now, however, you are brought into close juxtaposition with the re-mainder of the nation and with the civilization of the continent. You can persist in the policy you have adopted, but if you do, the only result will be to dwarf and destroy your own pros-perity and to build up the rival cities near you that dursue a truer and wiser policy. You will decrease and they will increase; and you will have no one to blame but yourselves. Here I must close. I have spoken to you face to face, frankly, truth-fully, fearlessly. I have said nothing but for your own good. Let me counsel you once more to obedi-ence to the law, and thanking you for the patient hearing you have given me, and for the hospitalities our party have received, both from Mormon and Gentile citizens, I bid you all good-night and good-bye.
By order of the church all Mormon stores, shops, &c., have a sign inscribed, “Holiness to the Lord; Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution;” and the members of the church are instructed to trade there only. The result is that many Gentile establishments have closed up and removed elsewhere. A few, with large capital, still re-main, but with diminished business.
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