Brigham Young-- Secessionism in Utah- A Storm Brewing--The Mormon Women -- Mining in Utah- Agriculture.
[FROM A TRAVELLING CORRESPONDENT.]
GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH TERRITORY, September 22, 1866.
Most writers have been in the habit of describing the Mormons as composed in a very large degree of the lowest classes of foreigners. Such does not ap-pear to me to be the case; at least, in attending their public meetings in Salt Lake City, I have not found it to be true of the material from which the audiences and congregations are composed. There was an un-mistakable New England element pervading the crowd always, and the truth of the matter is that the Mormons as a body are people of fair average intel-ligence, with limited but ordinary educational acquirements, who are managed by their leaders with great address. These leaders are almost exclusively shrewd, practical, hard-headed Yankees, who understand themselves perfectly and their position also, and never lose sight of the material benefits to be acquired through their leadership.
Brigham Young, their president, is a fair specimen of the Vermont farmer, which he was formerly. No one, however, needs to meet him often to feel assured that one of his strongest personal traits of character is a bull-dog obstinacy and pertinacious perseverance in his own ideas of right and wrong, that augurs ill for whoever undertakes to oppose him. His face is cold, and his manner, if not exactly forbidding, yet not attractive; his firmly compressed lips, square jaws and stern unsympathetic eye, repel any advances toward an acquaintance. No beggar would ever ask him for alms: no aching, human heart for sympathy. Fit man to be the leader and organizer of a system which condemns weak, helpless women to a lifetime of worse than slavish servitude for the benefit of their "lords and masters." It is singular, indeed, to reflect that while even now the newly laid ocean telegraph brings us the intelligence of the abolition of polygamy among the disciples of Mahomet, they having become convinced that their degeneracy and effeminacy may be traced directly to that institution, here in the latter part of the nineteenth century, in free America, which we are taught to consider the birth place and home of modern progress, and the natural and destined promoter and disseminator of republican institutions, there should be growing up without check or hindrance a form of government in which the very fundamental principles upon which our institutions are founded, are, not merely disregarded, but violated, opposed and held up to ridicule. For these Mormon leaders do not scruple to speak with the utmost contempt of the authority of the United States government. It is without doubt the truth that they anticipate an early renewal of hostilities between North and South, and even more warmly desire it. Brigham Young himself told the writer that he thought General Lee did perfectly right in recognizing the authority of his native State as superior to that of the general government and paramount to all other obligations incumbent upon him. This fact, of course, sufficiently indicates the character and nature of the teachings of the Mormon leaders to their subordinates and converts. In fact, the authori-ty of the Federal government is nowhere regarded in Mormondom, and it is only as a measure of policy that the leaders of the Mormon church make a pretence of being in any way connected with the republic.
It may be thought at the East that when the late war did away with the usurped authority of "President" Jefferson Davis and "General" Robert E. Lee, as well as the illegal functions of the self-constituted "Confederate Congress," organized and systematized opposition to the general government within the limits of the territory belonging of right to the United States ceased; but any one who indulges in that fond delusion had better visit Utah, to learn that here, in what is generally supposed to be, as yet, a territorial government, there really exists a "sovereign State" known to its subjects as the State of "Deseret," with an army, treasury and officers of its own. I dare say there are many benighted individuals in the Eastern States who imagine that General Grant is in command of all the troops from Maine to Oregon; but they are mistaken; for here at least a certain General Daniel H. Wells acknowledges no superior except his commander-in-chief, "President" Brigham Young. People may laugh and think this is a small matter; but they will perhaps live to regret their own folly in not sooner exclaiming against the temporizing policy government has hitherto adopted in relation to this Mormon affair. In answer to a question as to the present population of Salt Lake City, which the writer asked of Brigham Young, he replied "he did not know," but added, a few moments after, that there were more than double the number of people in Utah that there were in Colorado and Nevada united.
This is a fact that sensible men would do well to ponder. There are more than twice as many people in this territory as in two other adjoining districts of country, where one has been already admitted as a State to all the privileges of the Union, and the other has applied for admittance and was only prevented from becoming a State by the veto of President John-son. This large population is, to all intents and purposes, hostile to the present government of the United States, and is constantly receiving accessions to its strength. The emigration of the present year amounts to several thousand, and I heard one of their speakers within ten days state that, inclusive of women and children, there were three thousand emigrants on the way to this city now upon the plains. Every single day that the solution of this question is deferred makes the Mormon leaders more defiant and arrogant, and they scarcely conceal their intention of declaring themselves entirely independent of the United States whenever a proper opportunity occurs. Will the government permit them to select their own time and its hour of weakness? Some writers have contended that this affair will right itself, but to me this appears no more probable than that slavery should have disappeared without outside pressure having been brought to bear upon it. Brigham Young has emphatically declared that he will not give up polygamy, and that if he has to resign this valley in consequence, he will "leave it as desolate as it was "found." But a friend tells me that President Andrew Johnson informed General Connor that the Mormons were "more sinned against than sinning!"
It is impossible to deny the fact of the immense material benefit which has accrued to this section of the country in consequence of the Mormon occupation. They have really made the wilderness to blossom like a rose, and too much credit can scarcely be paid them for their energy and patient perseverance in reclaiming this desert region. And as to the generally quiet and peaceable behavior of the great majority of their people there can be as little doubt, and I am as far as any one could be from urging the perpetration of another Arcadian outrage; but that the Mormon leaders are bold, bad, unscrupulous men, who use their deluded followers for their own aggrandizement and selfish purposes, is plain to the most superficial observer, and it would be a mercy to the majority of the Mormons here if the general government should at once interfere and enforce the laws against polygamy. If they do not so interfere, and allow the leaders time to concentrate, discipline and organize for resistance, there will sooner or later be bloodshed and civil war here, which could be avoided by a little firmness and prudence if attended to at once. Let the statesmen of America take warning from the history of secession, They did not believe the South dared to lift its hand against the Federal government, and heard their many threats to that effect with indifference, and the result has been written in blood on the door posts of almost every family in the nation. This Mormon question is but a small cloud upon the political horizon as yet, but if no attention be paid to it, a storm will one day burst upon us that will astonish many by its fury.
The exceeding plainness, not to say ugliness, of the Mormon women, is a fact that has been commented upon by almost all the different visitors to Salt Lake City, as indeed it was impossible for the most cursory observer to avoid noticing it; but although often mentioned. I doubt if justice has ever been done the subject, which appears to be one of those general rules to which there are very few, if any, exceptions. It is a delicate matter to discuss this subject of the personal attractions of the female portion of the Saints, and I have been, informed that Richardson of the New York Tribune very narrowly escaped a mobbing on the occasion of his second visit to this city on account of some of his disparaging remarks in his correspondence in this connection. It is said a plentiful supply of rotten eggs had been provided; and a crowd collecting before the hotel called for him to make them a speech. Fortunately he either got wind of the affair, or was absent from the hotel, and thus escaped, as his appearance would have been the signal for a volley.
The Mormons are very guarded in their intercourse and social relations with "Gentiles," and it is exceedingly difficult to obtain the entree to their families; but there can be little doubt that the Mormon women as a whole are opposed to polygamy; while the men on the contrary, whether polygamists or not, would without doubt fight in defence of their peculiar system. As is to be expected, the women are regarded as inferiors, and are not treated with the same respect as where monogamy prevails.
In approaching the city of the Great Salt Lake from the westward, the traveller finds few outposts to their civilization until within a few hours' ride of the city itself, as the Mormon settlements are confined for the most part to a comparatively narrow strip of country running north and south. The stage, road passes through the little mining town of Stockton, which, has been built up and is occupied almost exclu-sively by "Gentiles." It is probably the only "Gen-tile" settlement in this territory. The mines upon which it depends are directly back of the town and have not yet been developed to any great extent, and th means and appliances for extracting the ore are at present of the rudest description; they consist mrely in throwing the rock into a furnace and ob-taining as much metal as a partial smelting process will yield. The silver is found in combination with lead and, the amount of the latter metal is so great that it is claimed that the mines would, and do, pay from the yield of lead alone. General Connor, the former military commandant of Utah Territory, is the most prominent person at present engaged in the development of these mines, and is now absent for the purpose of arranging for the erection of proper mills and machinery in order that the mines may be worked in a scientific and practical manner. The Mormons streuuously deny that these mines can be made to pay, fearing no doubt the large "Gentile" immigratiom that is sure to follow any marked development or great sucess in mining within the territory. For the same reason they also deny that gold has been found to the southward, although there is little doubt of the fact and I see no reason why Utah should not one day rank with Colorado, Nevada and Idaho as a minirg country.
The principal range of mountains near Salt Lake, the Wasach, is of considerable height and upon some of is peaks tho snow remains all the year round. In fact I have scarcely been out of sight of snow since I arrived upon the Pacific coast. In California, Nevada, and now here in Utah, little white patches my up on the sides of the mountains have indicated the sources of the attenuated streams that occasionally cross the overland stage road on their way to tie thirsty plains to the southward, where they become smaller and smaller, and are at last swallowed up in the dry, sandy desert. It is generally supposed at the East that the Mormons have pos-sessed themselves of the only fertile tract of country in the great interior basin, and such has been the statement usually made by travellers here; but I do not find that the land is really any better than that of any other portion of the sage-brush country through which I have passed; and they certainly do not be-gin to possess such water privileges for irrigation as some portions of Nevada. I am therefore forced to the conclusion that what the Mormons have done in this small corner of the great basin, can be as easily accomplished in nearly every other part of it, whenever the same amount of energy and patient, hopeful perseverance is displayed as it is evident has been necessary to accomplish the results to be seen here on every hand. Certainly their leaders have proved themselves possessed of no small amount of faith in their future and of indomitable courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties. And they have great reason to be proud of their results already accomplished. QUELSI. .
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