BY REV. R. M. HATFIELD.
IT is not yet fifty years since an igno-rant, profane, and licentious charlatan per-suaded a handful of ignorant people to re-ceive the Book of Mormon as a divinely inspired revelation. To-day there is in the Territory of Utah a population of one hun-dred thousand souls, nine-tenths of whom glory in being called "Mormons," or "Lat-ter-day Saints." In all the history of re-ligious imposture there is hardly a more wonderful chapter than the one that re-cords the rise and progress of this strange sect. A recent favorable opportunity for studying the spirit and workings of Mor-monism has helped me to a better under-standing than I ever before had of its position and prospects. It is not easy for a Gentile to get an inside and accurate view of Mormonism, even at Salt Lake City. There are several of its features, however, that can hardly be hid from a careful observer. Nothing surprised me more on my visit to the place than
THE PECUNIARY CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE.
Relying upon the rose-colored reports of certain tourists, one is ready to conclude that there is little or no poverty among the Mormons, and that Utah is a second Canaan, flowing with milk and honey. As a matter of fact, the Mormons are gener-ally poor, and, so far as I can judge, likely to remain so. Salt Lake City is a com-fortable town, with wide streets and an abundance of shade-trees; but is, on the whole a cheap and inferior place, when compared with many American towns of hardly half its age. There is something picturesque in the streams of water that flow through its principal streets; but when I was there these mountain-streams were soily and barely fit for domestic pur-poses. There are wealthy and prosperous persons among its inhabitants, but many of the people are barely able to live from hand to mouth. The boast of the Mor-mons that they provide for all their help-less poor and support them in comfort is made in utter disregard of the truth. Num-bers of these Mormons were kept from suf-fering, if not from actual starvation, during the past winter, by the liberality of the Episcopal church in Salt Lake City. The Mormon population in Utah is in no such condition of thrift and prosperity as are the American citizens who are settled in Iowa, Kansas, or Nebraska. Many of them are in debt for their transportation to the terri-tory and for their little farms, and all are harrassed by the incessant demands of the tithe collector. Financially, Mormonism seems to have been a grand success to Brigham Young, and a few other church dignitaries, but a dismal failure to the peo-ple generally.
THE INTELLECTUAL INFERIORITY OF THE MASSES OF PEOPLE IS UNMISTAKABLY APPARENT.
This is noticeably true of the women. There are exceptions, of course; but I never remember to have seen such a sea of vacant, stolid faces as I looked into in the Tabernacle at Salt Lake City, on a Sunday afternoon in May, 1870. That view first enabled me to understand how it was that the women of Utah submitted to polygamy. The most of them looked as if they might consent to be the fifth or tenth part of a wife; for it would require five or ten of them to make an average American woman. These people are to be pitied rather than blamed for their ig-norance; for they are generally an in-ferior class of foreigners, who have had few opportunities for acquiring an educa-tion. But there is no excuse, other than their poverty, for the ignorance in which their children are allowed to grow up. The Mormons boast of their excellent school system; but, so far as I could learn, they have not a single free school in all the Territory of Utah. They allow their meeting-houses to be used for school pur-poses ; but the teachers who occupy them must rely upon their tuition-fees for sup-port, and, as this is meager and uncertain, the schools are of the poorest kind and frequently suspended. The masses of the people are not only ignorant and poor, but they are
THE VICTIMS OF A CRUEL AND GRINDING OPPRESSION.
It would be hard to find a tribe of sav-ages in the interior of Africa who are more completely subject to despotic power than the Mormons of Utah. Brigham Young, aided by his satellites, rules them with a rod of iron. The tame submission of tens of thousands of people to the tyranny that grinds them to the dust is one of the strangest facts in the history of our race. The despot who lords it over them claims for himself absolute infallibility, and they do not question his authority. When a man becomes a Mormon, a tenth part of his property goes into the treasury of the church; or, in other words, into the pockets of Brigham Young. Afterward a tenth of all he earns or makes is swallowed by the same relentless maw. And the thousands and millions of dollars that are swept into the coffers of Brigham Young he uses ac-cording to his own pleasure, and renders an account to nobody. Nor is it merely in tithes and offerings that the people of Utah are oppressed. When a man, for any reason, becomes obnoxious to Brig-ham Young, it is the easiest thing in the world to order him on a "mission" for a few years, and for that length of time he is well out of the way. If a man's business is to be broken up, or turned into the hands of the friends of Brigham Young, or if his wife is to be tampered with, he can be put at a convenient distance by sending him on a mission to Wales, or Sweden, or the Sandwich Islands. I have in my pos-session facts with regard to the manner in which this power is exercised that would be incredible, only that they are supported by irresistible evidence. A refusal to sub-mit to these arbitrary orders leads to ex-pulsion from the church ; and that is fol-lowed by social ostracism and by incessant annoyances and persecutions. The ex-pelled member is denounced as a "damned apostate"; and the faithful are forbidden to give him employment, to patronize him in business, or in any way extend to him aid and comfort. But this is not all, nor the worst. Brigham Young, and those who get their inspiration from him, have for years preached the doctrine of "blood atonement." As stated by Young himself, in a sermon preached in the Tabernacle, this is briefly the doctrine of the Saints on this subject:
"There are sins which men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world or in that which is to come;" and, if they had their eyes open to see their condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilled upon the ground, that the smoke might ascend to Heaven as an offering for their sins. I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it strong doctrine. It is to save them, not to destroy them. I will say further: I have had men come to me and offer their lives to atone for their sins. There are sins that cannot be atoned for by an offering upon the altar, as in ancient days; and there are sins that the blood of a lamb, or a calf, or of turtle-doves cannot remit, but they must be atoned for by the blood of the man. This is the reason men talk to you as they do from this stand."
Hear him again on the application of this theory:
"I wish we were in a situation favora-ble to our doing that which is justifiable before God, without any contaminating in-fluence of Gentile amalgamation, laws, and traditions, that the people of God might lay the ax at the root of the tree, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit was hewn down. What! do you believe that people would do right and keep the law of God by actually put-ting to death transgressors? Cutting to death transgressors would exhibit the law of God, no difference by whom it is done—that is my opinion. Have not the peo-ple of God a right to carry out that part of the law as well as any other portion of it? It is their right to baptize a sinner to save him; it is also right to kill a sinner to save him, when he commits those crimes that can only be atoned for by shedding his blood. We would not kill a man, of course, unless we kill to save him."
Nor is this doctrine a mere abstraction with the Mormons. "Danites" and "avenging angels" are, according to this theory, a proper and beneficent agency for saving souls and promoting the wel-fare of the church. That deliberate and systematic murder has been one of the means resorted to by the Mormon leaders in carrying out their policy cannot be doubted. But the crowning abomination of Mor-monism, that which renders it unspeak-ably loathsome to the Christian world, is its
It should be understood that many of the Mormons are not polygamists. The men who have from two to ten wives apiece seem to be a kind of aristocracy among them, just as the slaveholders con-stituted an aristocracy in the Southern States a few years since. Abhorring polyg-amy before I went to Utah, it seems more abominable than ever, now that I have seen something of its practical workings. I will not say that there are no cases in which men take a plurality of wives from religious motives and spiritual considera-tions. But in a vast majority of cases these adulterous connections are resorted to as a means for the indulgence of appe-tite and lust. The man must be verdant, indeed, who can be fooled by the pretended sanctity under which the Mormon leaders attempt to cloak their license and lechery. Their coarse and animal faces, no less than their words in speaking on this subject, betray what is within them. But the worst results of this system of impurity and incest fall upon the Mormon women. Some of them are stupid and ignorant to such a degree as to have no appreciation of their degradation. Others are so hard-ened as to glory in their shame. But the true women, who have retained the feel-ings that give to the female character its grace and loveliness, are humbled and crushed by this barbarism. It breaks their hearts and kills them by inches. Nothing can be more pathetic than the story of their sufferings, as they pour it into sympathizing hearts, when they have the opportunity to do so. The cry of hundreds of these outraged women goes up to Heaven mingling with the cry of the souls under the altar: How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge us?
It is a burning shame and disgrace to our country that this crime against the Christian civilization of the nineteenth century should be allowed to exist in any territory over which the United States has authority. I left Utah thoroughly persuaded that there is no cure for polyg-amy but in the enactment and enforce-ment of just and wholesome laws.
It is to the interest of Brigham Young to perpetuate the institution as a means of preserving the isolation of his people. The Pacific Railroad may not strengthen polygamy, but it will never destroy it. There are no indications at present that the Godbeite movement is to work its overthrow. The men who are leading this movement are capable and deter-mined, and may yet give Brigham Young serious trouble. But their faces look toward skepticism, rather than in the di-rection of a pure Christianity, and they have not renounced the worst and cunning abomination of Mormonism. Nor am I able to sympathize with those who are confident that Mormonism will collapse or explode whenever Brigham Young dies. He undoubtedly shows consummate ability in the bad pre-eminence to which he has been exalted; but it is highly probable that some one will be found competent to fill his place when he is re-moved from it. It requires far less ability to run the machine now than it did to in-vent it and set it in motion. On the whole. the hope that this foul ulcer will work its own cure seems to me about of apiece with the expectation of the fool who stood on the river's brink waiting for all the water to run by. Congress will be compelled to confront this question squarely, and to deal resolutely with it. There must be no persecution of the Mormons. They have the same right to their religious beliefs and practices that we have to ours. It is no part of the business of Government to propagate or suppress religious dogmas. But it is the business of Government to prohibit and punish crime. And it is not an open question whether polygamy is a crime. That has been settled by the au-thority of the General Government, and by the laws of every state in the Union. And no plea of "conscience" or "religious liberty" must be allowed to protect crime against the law's just penalty. The Chinese are allowed to build their Joss-houses and worship their idols in the heart of our Christian cities, and no one com-plains of this. But suppose the heathen of India should come to our country and proceed to burn their widows in the streets of Boston; or to drag the car of Jugger-naut through the streets of New York, crushing scores and hundreds of persons under its wheels how long would mur-der in that form be tolerated by the au-thorities? The case is too clear for argu-ment. The right and the responsibilty of our government is unquestionable in the premises. Eight years ago Congress passed a law prohibiting polygamy in Utah. No such law can be enforced when offenders are brought before Mormon juries. The Cullom bill proposes the enactment of a law that can be enforced; and every in-telligent citizen of Utah, who is not a Mormon, with whom I conversed, seemed anxious for its passage.
Yet it drags month after month in Con-gress. Our representatives at Washington are so occupied with other matters as to have little time for the consideration of a question that touches the honor and wel-fare of the nation to the very quick. It might be just, as well as humane, to modify the bill so as to make some allowance for those who became polygamists under the impression that the United States intended to overlook or connive at their crime. But Congress is recreant to its most solemn obligations in allowing the Mormons to defy the authority of the Government and outrage the moral sense of the nation by continuing to perpetrate this crime and glorying in their right to do so. The false tenderness with which they are treated, if persisted in, must sooner or later lead to scenes of violence and bloodshed. Let us hope that, when our congressmen have concluded all their bargains with an in-famous lobby, and given the last square mile of the public domain to a ring of rascally land-sharks, they may be able to give some attention to polygamy in Utah, and to the other questions in which their constituents have a real interest.
CHICAGO, June 27th, 1870.
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