POLYGAMY IN UTAH.
Speech of Hon, Hamilton Ward, De-livered in the House of Representa-tives, March 22, 1870.
The House then resumed the consideration of a bill reported from the Committee on the Territories (H. R. No. 1089) in aid of the exe-cution of the laws in the Territory of Utah, and for other purposes.
Mr. WARD. Mr. Speaker, having had some-thing to do with framing this measure as a member of the Committee on the Territories, and as it has been assailed upon the floor of this House, it is perhaps proper that I should say something in its defense. Before doing so permit me to say that the Committee on the Territories felt that they could not ignore the subject-matter of this bill. The condi-tion of affairs in the Territory of Utah, the long neglect of the General Government to enforce its laws, and the moral sense of the nation demanded that the committee should take this subject into serious consideration, and to submit, if possible, some measure for the action of the House that would enable Congress to blot out this Mormon iniquity, and to vindicate the majesty of the laws of the Union. Now I am gratified in being able to say that the Committee on the Territories have given earnest consideration to this ques-tion. They have heard parties representing all views of the question, have deliberated carefully upon it, and have unanimously pre-sented the bill which is now before the House.
We were aware that we were undertaking no insignificant task; that an attempt to tear down an institution which has prospered for twenty years in defiance of the laws of this country; which had absorbed a large territo-ry; which had the control of a hundred thou-sand people; which pays $1,000,000 to the so-called Mormon church; which has its hoard of gold in the Bank of England; which sends its missionaries abroad throughout the earth to gather its proselytes from all the na-tions of the continent and from the islands of the sea; which had stood in the path of civil-ization for twenty years past defying the pro-gress of the times, defying the instincts of humanity, defying the enlightenment of the age, and defying the laws of the Republic—we were aware that an attempt to tear down such an institution would not be quietly sub-mitted to.
We did not anticipate, sir, that any man would have the hardihood to stand upon the floor of this House, in this last half of the nineteenth century, and have the effrontery in the presence of a virtuous people to de-fend this institution. We supposed that if the measure should be assailed at all it would be attacked by indirection; that people would complain of the cost; that somebody would say the bill was dictated by a religious enthusiasm; that somebody would say it would affect the Pacific railroad; that some-body would have constitutional scruples and would say that the bill was not constitutional; that there would be some clap-trap or other by which the bill would be attacked here and there, in the flank and in the rear, every-where except by meeting the bill squarely.—We anticipated all this; we expected attacks in the newspapers; we expected to have dis-tinguished gentlemen from all parts of the country just happen in here to express their views; we expected that the Pacific railroad would take alarm; we expected, indeed, that the Bohemians of the press, influenced by considerations which perhaps they best un-derstand, would attack members of the com-mittee, as has been done in a prominent Chi-cago paper. We expected all this. Why, sir, here are a hundred thousand people, with millions of treasure placed by the dictates of religious fanaticism in the hands of a single man, an unscrupulous demagogue, upon whose skirts rest all the crimes in the deca-logue, from insignificant stealing up to mon-strous murder. All this treasure and power are in the hands of this Brigham chief; and we expected that he would struggle despe-rately to maintain his empire.
We now propose to submit to the American Congress the question whether this institu-tion shall longer continue; whether it shall ride rough-shod over your laws; whether it shall defy your statutes, whether it shall continue to increase, in violation of every law, human and divine, or whether, in obe-dience to the dictates of the age and the civi-lization of the times and the common hu-manity of our people, you are disposed now to take this monster by the throat and crush it out.
We expect a vote upon that question and we expect to put honorable gentlemen upon the record. We do not expect that the bill is to be killed by referring it to the Judiciary Committee or any other committee. We ex-pect gentlemen to meet the question and de-cide now and definitely whether polygamy is to be sustained in the Territories of the Re-public; because if that be so, then we must have it in the other nine Territories, and we must make it an initial principle in the or-ganization of our western States.
What is the origin of this institution? Fsrty years ago a vagabond, a drunkard, and a thief, by the name of Joseph Smith, col-lected around him in one of the towns of Senaca county, in the wertern portion of the State of New York and went to Ohio: and after establishing there a wild-cat bank by which they swindled innumerable people, they were driven out of Ohio and went to Missouri. They were driven out of Missouri and went to Illinois, where also they were driven out. While in Illinois, Joseph Smith and some of his elders, yielding to their licentious and lustful natures, were guilty of certain practices which were condemned, and in order to cover which Joseph Smith receiv-ed a revelation. That revelation was that polygamy was lawful and proper, and was a part of the Mormon creed. The good people of Illinois, however, did not adopt that theory, and these people were driven from that State. During the operation Joseph and Hiram Smith met a violent death. In the mean time a young man named Brigham Young, who had been hoeing corn and potatoes in Livingston county, in the State of New York, became exceedingly dis-gusted with that honorable business, and one day threw down his hoe with a terrible oath and swore that he would join the Mormons. He went out and did join them, and after the death of Joseph Smith became their chief.
Brigham Young, being a man of excellent virtue and high morals, fell in readily with the proposition that polygamy was a part of the religion of the Mormons and was received from the high court of heaven as a direct in-spiration of Joseph Smith. In order to per-petuate this system, its votaries, after being driven out of Illinois, went to a remote Territory, now known as the Territory of Utah. Their history since that time I need not relate. In 1847 there were four thousand of them. Now there are over a hundred thousand. The Government tampered with them; the Government procrastinated. Away in that remote Territory they were per-mitted to thrive. Time wore away, and a President of the United States, whose history is linked in infamous memory with the fugitive slave law, appointed Brigham Young Governor of the Territory.
Brigham's conduct was such that it was seen fit in time to remove him. In 1862 a law was passed punishing polygamy in all the Terri-tories. That law has never been enforced. It could never be enforced, because it had to be enforced through courts and juries, and no jury could be got in that Territory but what was largely Mormon.
I say they increased in defiance of your law. They broke up your courts. They murdered your officials. They defied you in every re-spect. They sent forth throughout the earth and gathered in the foreigner. Their place was the resort of lewd people. Their valley was the scene of the congregation of disorderly characters from all parts of the earth. Their chief was bold and unscrupulous and he has been able by a subtlety almost wonderful, by a preseverance worthy of a better cause, to maintain his institutions in the heart of a civilized land, in the midst of an enlightened Republic until this day.
In everything I see in reference to this in-stitution of polygamy does it become me now and here to condemn it. It has been con-demned by the sentiment of the century, and it has received the condemnation of all hon-orable and proper people. Whenever you degrade women you degrade all. That insti-tution which debauches the mother, which dishonors the wife, which disgraces the daugh-ter and sister, strikes at the foundation of all just government and free institutions. Say what you may of your great Republic, plead as you may for its success, glorify as you may over its stretching from ocean to ocean and from the frozen regions of the North to the Gulf of Mexico, reaching its influence through-out the globe, Christianizing and beautifying the world—say what you may, it all rests upon home virtue. It rests upon the love, it rests upon the integrity of the mother and wife; and whenever you debauch the home and house-hold you corrupt all; and it is the homes of this country, North, South, East and West, where purity reigns, where virtue reigns, where this Republic is to live, and upon that superstructure to-day, with God's blessing, it is permitted to stand.
I see honorable men around me, men com-ing here intrusted by their constituency, hon-orable men, notwithstanding the slanders of men we patronize here and permit to have a place in our galleries—I ask you, honorable gentlemen, where would you have been if your homes had been brothels and your moth ers concubines? How often in the history of your lives can you look over the desert track of your existence and recali the temptations that have beset your ways, recall all that has surrounded you, and at the same time recall the flaming sword which seemed to stand at the gate and kept you from doing evil. I ask you, when you remember this, what it was that preserved you so well? What were more powerful than the early influence of a moth er's guidance and the lessons of love and duty which spring up in every virtuous household? These principles, learned in the homes of the land, are what have saved you from every peril that may have beset your path in life. I remember very well one who was pure and beautiful, and who twenty years ago they buried on the banks of the James. I remem-ber very well whose counsel it was hung over my childhood like an angel beam and proiect-ed me from a thousand harms. I pay this tribute to her name. I speak of these things because it is proper, and we are all called up-on in relation to this matter to go to the root of all government, and that is the household. Say what you may of the women of Utah; say that they acquiesce in this system; refer if you please to their conduct in reference to this bill; but you cannot change their nature. Six thousand years have rolled over this earth and still it is the same with women. She will admit of no partnership in her affections. She will admit of no division of her regards. While man is controlled by schemes of ambi-tion, which he pursues over land and sea, the woman, the true woman, has but one great am-bition, and that is to make her home a para-dise. You break down that home, you de-stroy that feeling, and you crush her, you tend to make her a debauched and dishonored thing, you leave her at the mercy of every wind and tide that may assault her. And when your legislation encourages this state of things I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that it strikes at the very foundation of free institu-tions.
There are nameless graves in that far-off Territory, under the shadow of its great mountains, in which lie buried murdered men and broken-hearted women, that are lifting up their silent voices to-day to the ear of the God of justice, censuring you for your guilty participation in this act. For by re-fusing to enforce your laws you have commit-ted all this, and you have become to a certain extent copartner in this crime.
Why, the gentleman from Nevada said that we had tolerated this thing so long that it was not wise to undertake, now that it had assumed such formidable proportions, to overthrow it! So we are to be taunted here with our own neglect of duty! The statutes of limitation are to be thrown in our face, are they? And because we have permitted this thing to go on for twenty years we are to permit it to go on longer! But it is said that ail this will disappear before the benign influences of civilization. The Pacific rail-road is now open, they say, and this wall root out polygamy. I have heard a great deal at-tributed to the Pacific railroad. I knew that it was a great institution; that with its links of iron and its messengers of steam it had bound the two oceans together; it had opened the wilderness to the track of civili-zation; it had laid tribute upon the oriental world; it was bringing back to us the spices of the Indies, the fragrance and the luxuries of the land of the sun. I knew all this, but I never supposed that it was to fulfill the high office of a moralizer, that it was to break down the walls of sin, that it was to be the little stone cut from the mountain that was to abolish all these fabrics of crime that cen-turies have reared among us. If that be so, why, abolish all your laws from New York city to California! The Pacific railroad, with its branches, stretches from ocean to ocean. Let us abolish all laws—all laws against bigamy especially. For we have laws on our statute-books against bigamy in every State. Abolish them; abolish all your laws against robbery and murder and arson, and those other crimes that afflict humanity.—Let the Pacific railroad serve the purpose of I moralizing everybody. Let it bring in the millenium. Let us have no more jails, or State prisons, or penitentiaries.
Why, does the gentleman remember that the same train that brings the hardy pioneer to Utah with his family—with his honest wife and with his little children—brings also the dissolute and degraded of both sexes? Does he remember that when you have estab-lished, by the refusal of Congress to take any action on this subject, that polygamy is legal-ized in Utah, and henceforth to be one of the institutions of this country, that therefore an invitation is extended to the dissolute of all; nations to go there and settle, and find securi-ty and protection? Does the gentleman not understand that the same Pacific railroad which carries the virtuous and the good would carry in tenfold numbers the dishonest and the dissipated, those who have become out-lawed from all other countries? It is a sig-nificant fact that since this Pacific railroad has been opened in Utah seventeen gentile business firms have removed from Salt Lake because they could not stay there. And I cannot hear of anybody who has gone there. A few groceries and saloons and drinking places have been established along the life of the road through Utah; and places of a more disreputable character have also, I under-stand, been established, but I have yet to learn that they are the nurseries of virtue.
Now, gentlemen forget that there are nine other Territories besides Utah, and that hon-est and virtuous men and women, in order to avoid the persecutions incident to life in Utah, will go anywhere else. They will set-tle in California, in Idaho, in Wyoming, they will settle anywhere except in this pest-house. Where did emigration go, I ask you, before slavery was abolished? Did it go south of Mason and Dixon's line? Not much; it went into the land of freedom; it sought that place where the emigrant could enjoy the full rights of a freeman and where labor was hon-orable. Will emigration go to a Territory that is cursed with an institution that de-grades everybody connected with it, and where unless a man submits to it he is perse-cuted and hounded down? Will emigration go to such a Territory, when a vast empire of as beautiful land as ever the sun shone upon is open to them elsewhere ? By no means.
Why, sir, I remember as far back as 1862, when Mr. MORRELL, of Vermont, a man whom we all know and respect, insisted on passing through this House a bill punishing polygamy in the Territories. It met no opposition here, but when it got over into the Senate two gen-tlemen made opposition to it, and they were the Senators from California, Messrs. Lath-am and McDougall. Mr. McDougall said that however unpopular it might be, he felt it to be his duty to oppose this punish-ment of polygamy in Territories upon the ground that it would break up the communi-cation between the East and the West and still further tend to isolate the golden State from the rest of the Union. Well, the bill passed, and now we have gentlemen from the Pacific coast opposing this bill for the same reason. The gentleman from California, [Mr. SARGENT] says that he thinks it will break up the Pacific railroad, and consequent-ly ought not to be done. The gentleman from Nevada [Mr. FITCH] says that it will break up the Pacific railroad, and he says a great many other things. He makes a very beautiful speech. He elicits the admiration of gentlemen upon the other side, and he elicits the especial admiration of the reporter for the associated press, who reports him as having made a grand speech. Now, let us see what there was in that speech. I have made a few extracts from it, and so that I may not be mistaken I have written down just what he said. He first said—
"That the provisions of the bill reported by the Committee on Territories, rigidly enforced, will put an end to polygamy in Utah, is intrinsically probable."
So that if the bill should, be enforced, it would put an end to polygamy in Utah. The next thing he says on that subject is this:
"This bill, with all due respect to the Committee on Territories, is as ill-considered, as worthless, for all practicable purposes in detail, as it is generally unwise and premature."
So that the bill will not accomplish it, and is entirely worthless. Then he says:
"That the destruction of polygamy is a, wise and laudable purpose is readily conceded."
Then he says:
"The suppression of polygamy would be purchased at too great cost."
Then he says of this beautiful institution of polygamy:
"It assaults no human right; it assaults no human privilege."
And then he goes on to say:
"I condemn the folly of the Mormon creed; I am filled with amazement and pity at the voluntary de-gradation of the Mormon women."
Then he says:
"The truth is that our system of government is un-fit to deal with a problem such as the Mormon question presents; our government rests upon the virtue and intelligence of the people."
Then he says, growing quite in love with the institution as the glow of his speech warmed him up—he goes on on to say in con-clusion:
"The tree of degraded sensuality does not bear the fruits of thrift, industry and temperance."
After speaking of the people of Utah as be-ing especially thrifty, especially temperate, and especially industrious, he winds up with the declaration that the thee of degraded sen-suality does not bear such fruits. I must be permitted to say that I am afraid that our Pa-cific Railroad friends have got somewhat de-bauched by this institution. It is close to their borders, and I suspect that the trite quotation from Pope will apply to them:
"Vice is a monster of so frightful mein
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
But, seen too oft, familiar with the face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace."
[ CONCLUDED TO-MORROW.]
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