The Abolition of the Govern-or's Absolute Veto Power.
Evil Results That Are Likely to Follow from That Action.
The Legislature Merely the Mouth-piece of Brigham Young.
Its Hostility to the Gentiles, and Espe-cially to the Mining Interest.
Necessity that Some Powerful Check Shall Be Put upon It.
Correspondence of The Chicago Tribune.
SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 10,1874.
In the recent consolidation of the United States statutes, the absolute veto heretofore ex-ercised by the Governor of Utah has been taken from him. In the opinion of the better class of Gentiles in Utah, there is great danger that this will result in complications which will necessi-tate the
INTERVENTION OF THE GOVERNMENT
through its military arm. This is inferred from the spirit of Mormonism as illustrated by all of its institutions, religious, civil, political, and military.
When Brigham Young was Governor, the Ter-ritory enacted a set of laws which were a dis-grace to the age, and which even the Mormons have since become ashamed of. It was then that grants of the scant timbers, and waters, and arable lands, of the Territory, were made to the chief dignitaries of the Church; then that the citizen was handed over to the Church, to be dealt with, even in matters involving life and death, by a secret Church ritual or covenant; then that the Nauvoo Legion was organized in-dependently of the Governor; then that the Governorship itself was shorn of its chief pre-rogatives as conferred by the organic act of Congress,—this in view of the prob-ability of some Gentile being appointed to the office; then that the juries and executive officers of the District or Federal Courts were made such as to render them powerless even in their own legitimate field; then that a concur-rent jurisdiction with the District Courts was conferred on the Probate Courts,—an act which the Supreme Court has just decided was incon-sistent with the organic act, and therefore void, —it was then, in a word, that the laws and customs of the Church ware made the laws of the State, the organic act nullified as far as it could be, the Federal power and authority in the Territory SYSTEMATICALLY RENDERED NUGATORY,
and the citizen not of the Mormon communion practically left without defense, or protection, or rights, a prey to the apostles of an incestuous and unlimited polygamy and blood-atonement. That was the age of fanaticism unchecked and rampant,—of the Mountain-Meadow and many minor massacres. It was a reign of terror, as bad in its way, and on a small scale, as that of France in '93.
It would overcrowd your space were I cite the laws passed since that time, which successive Gentile Governors have been obliged in the com-monest decency to veto. But I may refer to a few, and particularly to those relating to mining. Indeed, the Territory has no law regulating that branch of industry to this day, because, so hos-tile is the dominant class to it, that they have not been able to frame one which a Governor having the slightest regard for his good name could approve.
The territorial Legislature is
PRACTICALLY PERPETUAL AND UNANIMOUS.
The same men, and that in virtue of their being high officers of the Church, have met in success-ive legislative sessions for more than twenty years; so that their prescriptive spirit is stronger than tradition. The very men who originated that spirit, and who imagine that the exclusion of outsiders from the Territory is necessary to the existence of Mormon-ism, continue to exercise it year after year in the Legislature. And, from the nature of the system, it follows that the legislative body, in all matters of importance, must be unanimous. It is not inspired by a constituency, but by the Prophet Brigham. It is not amenable to the people, but to the Lord's lieutenant,—Brigham. His power is as absolute and unques-tioned to-day as it was twenty-five yesrs ago. Such spectacles as Legislatures, Municipal Councils, County Courts, etc., reversing their conclusions unanimously, at his dictation, have always been common, and are now. Indeed, his power has been sufficient, in more cases than one, to prevent a man elected to office by the people in some moment of for-getfulness or of escape from their managers, from qualifying and entering upon its adminis-tration.
Under such circumstances, non-Mormons have no safeguard whatever, except the UNCONDITIONAL VETO-POWER OF THE GOVERNOR,
They have no representation in the Legisla-ture, nor can they get any. If they elect a man, every means is resorted to, and generally with success, to prevent him from sitting or being of any use. The Legislature, moved by revelation through the Lion House, is as one man. It was but a fair offset to this state of things to give the Governor, the representative of the minority at least as much as of the majority, and, in this case, their only representative, a negative power equal to the affirmative power of the Legislature. While Brigham was Governor, as I said above, they stripped the office of all of its powers but this; and now for Congress to abolish this, leaves the Territory practically without a Gov-ernor ; the minority where it was in 1857, when murder stalked unabashed through the land,—when it was openly inculcated from every Mor-mon rostrum and pnlpit, and as openly com-mitted. It leaves Brigham practically what he used to boast he was and always would be,
GOVERNOR OF THE PEOPLE,
although some one appointed at Washington might nominally be Governor of the Territory.
It was thought, from the proceedings of a ses-sion or two, five or six years ago, that light was beginning to dawn even upon the Mormon Legislature, and that henceforth they would move forward with the rest of the world,—a long distance behind, perhaps, but still forward, steadily if slowly. But the expectation has not been fulfilled. The last session, not yet a year old, developed as reactionary a spirit as was pos-sible even to them. This was probably induced by the rapid growth of Americanism, and was the natural resort for defense against it. The Governor was obliged to veto more than three-fourths of the bills passed, and among them an appropriation bill, giving away the revenue for six years. In other words, with an annual rev-enue of about $35,000, the bill appropriated for miscellaneous uses about $200,000.
It is not ten years since the Legislature passed a bill taxing the mines 20 per cent per annum on their gross product, and also on their assess-ed value. Five years ago, nearly as bad a bill relating to mining was passed, and, three years ago, it was again passed. On each occasion, the mining interest, now worth $25,000,000, and pro-ducing 20 per cent per annum on that valuation, was saved only by the INTERPOSITION OF THE GOVERNOR'S VETO.
Within ten years, the Nauvoo Legion has been secretly called out in some places to keep pros-pectors out of Utah; and they would have done it, but that it was absolutely impracticable. Five years ago, several prominent Elders of middle age were excommunicated because they advocated, in the Utah Magazine, the develop-ment of the mining interest. Hundreds have been treated likewise from 1847 down, for go-ing to the mines. "If any man comes here discovering and working mines, to distract my people," said Brigham, years ago. "I'll cut that man's throat." Such is the spirit. It exists now the same as ever. Ana that is why I say that, if Congress does not re-store, at the present session, the absolute veto-power to the Governor of Utah,—abolished, prob-ably inadvertently, by the Consolidation,—diffi-culties are likely to occur in Utah which will, re-quire the
INTERVENTION OF THE MILITARY.
Because there is a good deal of money in-vested in the mining and railroad busi-ness, which latter is dependent on mining chiefly, and those interested will not stand any foolishness. An attempt to "en-courage" them after the Mormon fashion will certainly be resisted at all hazards. And, as soon as troops begin to move, money begins to flow like water to waste, and suffering, direct and in-direct, follows in a thousand ways.
Nor is it a dangerous power; because it is merely negative. It can originate nothing. Nor is it offsetting a number of men by one; be-cause, in effect, the Legislature is but one man, —Brigham. Brigham represents a hos-tile power, the Mormon State. The Governor represents the United States. It is one man against another. The United States is not responsible for the antagonism which exists. It is not of its creation or choosing. The Mormons have taken up the position, and they are the aggressors. It is anomalous, it is true ; but, in extraordinary situations,
EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES ARE NECESSARY.
There can be no just complaint made of abuse of this power. It has ever been exercised in the interest of the people and Government of the United States, and solely in defense against a treasonable aggression. Citizens of the United States certainly have the right to reside in Utah, and follow such legitimate business as they please; and they have the right to a negative, if not an active, protection against a fanatical local power, which seeks to oppress them in nameless ways in so doing, or to preclude them from so doing altogether.
No doubt the time may come, and will come speedily, when it will be safe to abolish this power; but it most assuredly
HAS NOT COME YET.
Things are working well in Utah, and it is due to the Republican policy of opening the country by railroad, and to the steady pressure Grant's Administration has brought to bear against the evils complained of.
Give the Legislature one session, and it meets again a year hence, unrestricted, and the fat will all be thrown in the fire, sure, and the Territory placed in a worse condition than ever. Formerly there was but one party, and so its tyrannous cruelties and oppressions made no considerable disturbance. But that day has passed. Resort to the old measures will result in convulsions, disturb-ance, anarchy. It may, perhaps, be impossible to restore this absolute veto to the Governor of Utah in the next Congress ; but, if done in this, and a secret ballot be given to us, the Republic-an party will be justly entitled to the credit of having
"SOLVED THE MORMON PROBLEM,"
in a manner creditable to its statesmanship. For it will have been done without violence, or cost, or extra-judicial proceedings. If, on the con-trary, they neglect this, the Mormon question will almost certainly have been left by them in a worse condition than they found it.
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