SALT LAKE CITY LETTER.
Correspondence Cincinnati Commercial.
The Mormon Question.
SALT LAKE CITY, U. T., January 29, 1869.
Just four weeks, to-day, have elapsed since my last communication, but the events of that period have not been such as to admit of cool philosophizing on the "Mormon question;" in fact, that "question" threatened for a time to become a little more personal to myself than was at all pleasant. On the afternoon of the 7th instant, I was seated in my sanctum, busily pre-paring mental aliment for the readers of the Daily Reporter, when an official-looking per-sonage entered and read a subpoena for "J. H. B, Editor Reporter," to appear before the grand jury "to-morrow morning at 9 o'clock, there to give evidence." Great was the wonder-ment among my friends and the Gentile public generally, as to what this new move meant, and I confess I was at first a little nervous myself. True, I was only summoned "to give evidence," but there was no telling what new scheme against the Gentile paper this might be the be-ginning of, and it would be exceedingly easy for a Mormon grand jury to ask me questions as to my sources of information, which I would not be at liberty to answer, and might conse-quently find myself "committed for contempt" and engaged in "playing checkers with my nose," from which there would be no remedy but by habeas corpus from the United States Courts.
It is my fixed opinion, as formerly stated, that these Probate or County Courts have no right to criminal jurisdiction, no right to a grand jury, and, consequently, no more right to call or ques-tion me than has Tom Brown, the blacksmith. Nevertheless, not to appear contumacious, I at-tended, and in due time was ushered before a Mormon grand jury. I have always had a hor-ror of grand juries since the time, ten years ago, when I was forced to help a friend to a $20 fine for "giving liquor to minors," and the particu-lar features of this case were not calculated to reassure me. The "head center" produced and read in excellent style, one of my locals, in which mention was made of a dead man having been found, out on the "bench," near the peni-tentiary buildings, and asked me if I had any personal knowledge of the matter. This being answered in the negative, a few similar ques-tions followed, and he finally asked what I meant by the phrases, "Brighamite civilization," and "the power that rules here by deeds of dark-ness and blood." I saw by the general pricking up of ears, that the real object of my being called was to find out what was the prevailing Gentile sentiment, and so, in the course of an hour's conversation, I set forth various facts within my knowledge, going to show that there was a feverish state of the public mind, and a general impression that trouble of some sort was impending. The matter took a very infor-mal turn, and resulted in a pretty free inter-change of sentiment, by which I learned the fact, important to me, that the Mormons are ap-prehensive that any hostile act on their part would probably lead to an outbreak and serious consequences.
This has been my own opinion for some time, but if the Mormon authorities can see the true state of the case, the danger will be greatly lessened. But the trouble with them is they have held absolute power so long that rather than give it up they will use violence. One thing is certain, there is a "feverish state of the public mind," and the death of one prom-inent Gentile at their hands would precipitate a civil war. Meanwhile everything seems to go on quietly, and no violence is just now at-tempted or threatened. But a series of petty persecutions is kept up some of which are an-noying and others ludicrous. Some two weeks ago, Rev. Henry Foote, the Episcopal Minister here, in riding to church, allowed his horse to go at a gentle canter down Main street. He had reached the church and donned his vestments for service, when he was surprised by the en-trance of a policeman, who forthwith read a warrant for his arrest, for "fast riding on Sun-day." He was let off with a light fine; still this is a specimen of the present state of warfare.
A worse thing however is a sort of general or-der for all Mormon girls doing housework for Gentiles to leave them at once. This creates as much dissatisfaction with the girls as with the Gentiles, as the former consider the houses of the latter generally as the best places. Many of these women are second wives of Saints, and several cases of real hardship have come to my notice. In two of them policemen visited the house and made the girls believe they had writs to take them away. Once out of the house and surrounded by their Mormon friends there was no getting back. In one case the policemen and husband forced their way into the house while the Gentile family were at church, after the young wife had refused a dozen times to go with them, and partly by threats and partly by persuasion, took her away. In all these petty annoyances they manage to keep within the law; still much bad blood and bitterness of feel-ing is thereby engendered. But on the 13th a new sensation was provided by a telegram from "Washington to the effect that Congressman Ashley had introduced a bill for the division of Utah among the neighboring Territories. All the bile in the Mormon community was stirred at once, and the two morning papers, the Tele-graph and Deseret News, came out with furious articles denouncing Mr. Ashley in the most un-measured terms, and stignatizing the whole movement as another act of "cowardly perse-cution." Bear in mind that it is a cardinal principle of faith with the Mormons that every politician who makes any move unfriendly to them is cursed from the hour and a blight is upon all his plans.
They proudly point to Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas and Frank P. Blair, as statesmen who declined rapidly from the day they refused to befriend the Mormons. Like all fanatics, they think that they and their acts are the pivot upon which all things temporal turn, and in the future history of America theirs will be the central line of interest, to which all else is subsidiary. There is in Mormon history, a very curious correspond-ence between Joseph Smith, on behalf of the Mormons, and Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. Smith first wrote to these gentlemen in the open-ing of the campaign of 1844, making the inquiry: "What would be their rule of action toward the Latter-day-Saints, in case they were chosen to the high office," &c. Both of them wrote very guarded replies, in which they expressed gener-ally the opinion that "these people, like all other religious sects, were entitled to the protection guaranteed by the Constitution and laws." After waiting a few months, Smith wrote each of them a long letter, a farrago of filthy nonsense, black-guardism and attempted learning, which is both amusing and disgusting. I have read, and heard it read among the Saints, many times, and they universally regard it as the highest possible ex-position of governmental knowledge, and a pow-erful rebuke of corrupt politicians.
They regard Andrew Johnson as the "noblest American since Washington's day," "a godlike statesman, a true gentleman and Christian." Knowing that Andrew was not, just now, the most popular man in the States, I was curious to find the reason of this excessive veneration, and found it to be, as expressed by one of their preachers, that "Johnson had not sent here a furious, sectarian Governor, a man who would try to eat them up, but had sent Governor Dur-kee, a mild-mannered man, who did not interfere with the people." This act alone, they think, will entitle him to the highest niche in the tem-ple of fame. So Andrew may congratulate him-self that the Saints are his friends. Fortunate-ly for their peace of mind, there was no one to dispute with them about the division of the Ter- ritory. The Gentiles here are unanimously op-posed to it for many reasons. One is that they consider it a virtual backing down on the part of the Government, a cowardly move, an at-tempt to shirk a responsibility which justly be-longs to the nation, and to throw the filthy car-cas of Mormonism to the Territories to be set- tled with by them. My private opinion is that it would be advisable to give the upper portion of the Territory, through which the railroad runs, to Wyoming, and thus avoid the irritating causes of difference which are even now spring-ing up between the Mormon Territorial authori-ties and the new railroad towns.
Two of these towns, to-wit, Promontory City, situated at the north end of the lake, and Wa-satch, on the run of the Great Basin, eighty-five miles from here, have virtually declared their independence, chosen city officers, and given notice that they will heed no Mormon laws, re-gard no Mormon officer, and fight, if necessary, "on that line."
Echo City, a new railroad town, at the mouth of Echo Canon, fifty-five miles from this city, was without any government whatever for sev-eral weeks. At length a Mormon policeman of this city was commissioned as Justice of the Peace and sent to Echo, with half a dozen po-licemen, to take charge of affairs. He ran the city on a fair basis for a short time, arrested and fined several gamblers, and forced the dancing women to leave town. At length a slight dis-turbance occurred; the roughs overawed his po-lice, and things fell into their original chaotic condition. The citizens at length drew up a charter, and a few days ago presented a petition to the Territorial Legislature, now in session, to grant them the charter. The Legislature re-ferred the petition, which will be the last of it, and the Echo citizens now declare their inten-tion to "run the town on the charter any how." I think the Mormons will finally control Echo, but I apprehend more trouble at Wasatch. This town, the present passenger terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad, has sprung up like magic on the very summit of the Utah Moun-tains, 7,000 feet above sea level, and just at the head of Echo Canon. It has already a resident population of a thou-sand; and two or three thousand laborers at work on the rock-cut and tunnel, with-in a few miles. All the business men and saloon- keepers have refused to pay territorial license, or obey the process of any territorial court. They have a city government in success-ful operation, with Mayor and Council complete. The Marshal, Mr. Thomas Smith, told me when I was there some days ago, to "give full notice in this city that no Mormon officer need come there to exercise any authority whatever; that they would fight the whole Territory if neces-sary, and he could turn out fifteen hundred men at half a day's notice." So far this challenge has not been accepted; but if the Mormons at-tempt to govern Wasatch there will probably be a fight. Between the Mormons and the railroad roughs, the Gentiles of this city have nothing to choose; so we shall remain "invariably neu-tral," unless the Mormons force us into the mat-ter, in which case we will have no choice but to join with the roughs. From these and other facts, I think it will be well to give the "rail-road strip" to Wyoming, but such is not the opinion of other Gentiles.
I think I am in a position to know that opinion thoroughly, and the expressions which come to me on every side may be summed up thus: Give us firm Government officers, who will not hesi-tate to accept a responsibility when it comes, who will act with vigor and decision, backed by one or two regiments of soldiers to protect Gen-tiles in all their rights, and sustain the United States Courts in their action, and all else we will soon settle ourselves. For Governor, we want a man who will declare his right to command the territorial militia, and exercise it, instead of walking in the ranks behind Brigham Young, as has been done on several disgraceful occa-sions. We want a man of military firmness, who knows his rights and is not to be wheedled by Mormon flattery, frightened by their threats or trapped by their allurements. And a man, too, who understands the question and its neces-sities, and is not too old or too weak to act on that knowledge—who is, at the same time, suffi-ciently popular to unite the Gentile sentiment, and well known by the Mormons. Permit me to say there is one man, and probably but one, who will fill this demand, and be universally accept-able to the Gentiles. That man is General P. E. Connor, and I believe there are not six Gentiles in this Territory but would prefer him for Gov-ernor to all others. I have received advices from every part of the Territory, and have talked with hundreds of people, and so far have not heard a dissenting voice.
General Connor is a native of Ireland, and now a resident of Stockton, California, though he spends nearly half his time here, where he has some property, particularly a steamer on Salt Lake. He commanded the California volunteers here from 1862 to 1865, a trying period, and won universal commendation. He was commis-sioned General by President Lincoln for a great victory gained over the Bannuck Indians. As Governor, with fifteen hundred soldiers, he would be able to preserve order through all the troublous times that are pretty certain to come next spring and summer. At any rate, we Gen-tiles would rather risk him than any other man we know of. The time has come when the Mor-mon question can no longer be evaded. The clashing elements are fast pouring into this val-ley. The new railroad town, to be laid out near Ogden, will undoubtedly be the great city of the basin, and will for some time be the favored re-sort of all the roughs in the country. They will steal from the Gentiles and lay it to the Mor-mons, and vice versa. Nine-tenths of the Mor-mons are so bigoted and fanatical that they per- sist in considering all the Gentiles alike, and re-gard the crime of one as the crime of all. Hun-dreds of Gentiles are no more reasonable in regard to the Mormons, and fail to see any dis-tinction between the guilty few and the inno-cent, but deluded, many; and without a power-ful corrective it takes no prophet to see that the scenes of Missouri and Illinois will be re-enact-ed. A firm hand and a clear head are needed to repress disorder and do justice to all parties. Give us these and no division of Utah will be necessary; with Gentile settlement, with social and moral forces, we will settle every thing else.
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