Conviction of Lee by the Mormon Church.
policy of tlie Prosecuting- Attor- ney— Possibilities of Its Success.
Breaking the Church's Terrorism— Brig- ham and the Massacre.
Special Correspondence of The Tribune.
SALT LAKE, Sept. 23.— At last, after nearly twenty years' effort, John D. Lee has been con- victed of murder in the first degree on account of the Mountain- Meadows massacre. At first sight these proceedings seem about as farcical aa anything could well be. The Churcti is pluming itself on having consented to the con- viction of Jolm D. Lee— on having aided in it, GH having been the chief party to it— of killing 120 men, women, and children nineteen years ago at Mountain Meadowrs. Now, Lee is a ter- rible fellow, a. horse, a stud- horse, a gnat, if you please ( Heber C. Kimball once said that If the doctrine of the transmigration of souls was true he would be a billy- goat in the next life)', but it is hard to be asked to believe, for all that, that he exterminated that entire train, all living alone, and that for nineteen years Brig- ham and his Church have been anxious to have him punished for it, but never could bring- it about till now. The Indians attacked the train, you know, and were repulsed. Then Lee went, over there and killed the lot, outrag- ing the females as he went along. The stock, the wagons, the jewelry, from the fair victims' ears and lingers, were turned into the tithing fund; Lee reported like a good soldier to Brigham; he was not only kept in fellowship, but, promoted and given wives by Brigham of all which he chose. Yet now we'are asked to believe, not only the Sam- sonic feat of the killing of a. whole train of emi- grants by Lee, but that he has since been held in detestation and horror by the blessed Saints of the Latter Days; and they have laid awake nights from that day to this praying for an op- portunity to deliver Lee over to the justice of the people.
AT LAST THE OPPORTUNITY HAS COME; the Church has embraced it. D. H. Wells, sec- ond in Church rank only to Brigham, went to Beaver, summoned such witnesses himself as the prosecution didn't Know of, took the jury — all Mormons— into his spiritual keeping, coached the witnesses, and secured a verdict of guilty. D. H. Wells and all his friends have taken on their faces an additional smirk of sanc- tity on account of this, and, when they wipe their brows, I have no doubt they think they are the brows of good men, and that good men are scarce. Their cant has become a shade more intolerable, if possible; they have at last been permitted to clear their consciences of the guilt, and purge the Church of the infamy, of the fa- mous massacre, which was never surpassed in diabolical malignity and cruelty. Lee did it, and they have given Lee to the gallows at the very first opportunity; they have thereby shown their horror of. the work and the tool, and having covered their tricks with additional treachery and mur- der ( to and of Lee) why shouldn't their gar- ments absolutely stink with the odor of sanc- tity?
There is but one opinion here of the course of the Cnurch in this matter, but there are two as to
THE POLICY OP THE PROSECUTION. Most of the Gentiles consider it as a clear, sim- ple case of selling out— that the District- Attor- ney, Sumner Howard, of Michigan, has bar- gained, for whatever consideration, to clear the Church if the Church would aid him to convict Lee. The Mormons have come to the conclu- sion that they must convict as juries when the proof is cleai', regardless of the sacred ties of the Endowment House; that they must clear their skirts of the Mountain- Meadows and other massacres; and ostensibly, at least, abandon polygamy, if they would ever secure admission into the Union. George Q. Cannon has been in Washington two or three years, and he is a man of too much in- telligence not to have arrived at precisely this conclusion. The conviction of Lee is a tenta- tive step in the new direction. After sheltering and fellowshiping assassins for a score of years, in furtherance of their Jesuitic policy, they are now going to deliver them up to " justice in obedience to new demands of that same policy. I have no doubt this is the best policy circumstances have left the Church. Whether it can be carried out without some very unpleasant consequences remains to be 6een. It is not supposable that it can be', but nothing that all their butchers might tell under the gallows would or could in- jure them so much as the con- tinued resting under the infamy of a long string of politico- religious assassinations. Be- sides, with their perfect control of their mem- bership, which means unlimited resources in the way of jury- charges ( spiritual), and the manu- facture of evidence, they will be able to break the force of all unpleasant revelations. Finan- cially, whatever their motives, the fact that they are aiding in bringing criminals to justice tells more for them on the whole than their contin- ued shielding of them. For, although it im- plies a treachery too base for the human heart, — a treachery to which corporations among human institutions are alone equal,— the effect at large of the exposure and pun- ishment of crime is one that runs be- yond control,— even of a corporation like the Mormon Church. It must be harder for them to use men as assassins in fu- ture, when men come to know that they are lia- ble to disavow all responsibility hi the matter at the bidding of policy, and hand them over to the hangman as coolly and inexorably as they originally made murderers of them. I should not be surprised to see a series of the old assas- sinations in Utah raked up, and the guilty par- ties punished.
AND THAT 13 THE CHANCE THE PROSECUTION HAS TAKEN.
Mr. Howard is not one of the selling- out kind. He has evidently invoked, or at least accepted, the aid of the Church to convict Lee; and he has placed Lee under the gallows, not only because it was the only proper thing for him, as a prosecuting officer; to do, always sup- posing him guilty of murder, but in the hope and expectation that Lee, finding ' the Church or the " brethren " had thrown off on him, would tell the truth then, if not to save himself to get even with them. Or that if Lee would not do that that some of his friends or his relatives would, in short, that the conviction of Lee by the Church would break " the faith among thieves," which has heretofore enabled them to conceal the truth. It is a bold stroke on the part of Howard, and if it works as he expects w: ill jus- tify him, and will reflect great credit on him in its results. If it doesn't work as he expects; if the bad faith of the Church itself towards its tools and assassins shall not unloose the minds and tongues so long paralyzed by fear, or by dread of exposure for crime committed; if the conviction of Lee is all, and ends all, then all will have been lost. We have tried the other policy a lo ng while,— many, many years, and we have effected nothing. I cannot blame a lawver in Howard's place for trying something new, even if it fails in all respects to meet his anticipations— or whether it fails or not. It fecks now precisely as though he had permitted
Church to use the court to sacrifice Lee and Whitewash itself, and the storm of indignation among Gentiles is not a thing to be trifled with or ignored. If Howard could be let alone a few months he would stand some chance of vindi- cating his policy by the results. If there is nothing more than the convic- tion of Lee to come of it, it was a great mistake, for Lee is no more guilty than twenty others, and it does not satisfy the de- mands of justice to have the whole crowd es- cape by swearing away Lee's life. Lee, although convicted and sentenced, may very easily die a natural death bv means of appeals, and all the law's delays, before he actually stands under the gallows. And he may still be so infatuated with his " religion " as to be willing to be sac- rificed for the good of the Church. And How- ard may be broken down by our side, or in a dozen different w# ys defeated before his ulti- mate ends can be secured. I do no look upon the situation as very hopeful, and yet it is per- haps not less hopeful than ever before.
No trial, no score of trials, no Prosecuting Attorney, no nothing, can ever lift the infancy of the Mountain Meadows massacre from the Mormon Church. Every man concerned in it, directly or indirectly, may be hanged for his crime, and it will still. remain that it was the Church which did it.
THE EMIGRANTS prere persecuted in pettv ways from the time they entered Utah. The Mormons were at open wTar with the people and Government of the United States. The emigrants were re- garded with a dreadfully hostile and malignant eve, and nothing but the fear of consequences restrained the attack long before it took place. It was designed to so cripple the train as that it should starve and perish on the desert, between Southern Utah and California.
But in the South they were more zealous than discreet. They stirred up the Indians to attack them, and no doubt expected, under cover of Indians, to get away with both emigrants and plunder. Tbe Indians were resisted, and mes- sengers were sent to the nearest Mormon town tor'assistance. These messengers were fired upon in open day by Mormons, and one of them killed. The other returned, wounded, to the train.
It was then that a council of all the high chiefs in the South was called, at which it was determined that, as a matter of necessity, the whole train must be destroyed. If not, they would tell of the Mormon- Indian attack in Cali- fornia, and California would avenge it. It was precisely in the spirit of Mormon pulpit- teacli- ing in those times; it was precisely in the spirit of their policy as represented by Brigham's proclamations and measures to meet invasion and kill all " spies " who might come into Utah; it was a very rich train, and the Mormons were very poor; they expected approval from headquarters at Salt Lake for their fidelity and zeal; and perhaps they meant to await an answer when they sent to Brigham to know if they should "
EXTERMINATE THE EMIGRANTS. That they did not showed how precisely they regarded their intended action as being in the spirit of Brigham's mood and policy. And per- haps events hurried them a little, too.
AS TO BRIGHAM HIMSELF, I have no doubt he had sagacity enough to see, even in that moment of insane blindness, that it would be a great mistake to deliberately de- stroy the emigrants. That he sent orders to spare them I have little doubt. But meanwhile the deed had been done. And now what was Brig- ham's course? He was Governor and ex- oflicio Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Did he bring the foul fiends to justice? No, he did not, then, nor since. On the contrary, he was afterwards elected to the Legislature; he was as high in favor as any one; he had three women added to his harem of fifteen,— the greatest reward the Church ha, s for faithful service; and he was not thrown off until Nemesis invaded Utah and began to point her red- hot finger at the bloody sod of Mountain Meadowrs and de- mand expiation. The other men of the coun- cil, whose orders Lee is now to be hanged for having carried out, were Bishops and Presi- dents of the Church then, and they are now. All of which writes with an iron pen in ink which never fades,— that the Church approved the awful deed a. fter it was done, if it did not in word6 directly authorize and order its doing. Nothing on earth can ever blot that out.
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