POLYGAMY IN THE TERRITORIES.
IN our issue for July 10, we replied to a corre-spondent, who seemed to think that he cannot sup-port a candidate opposed to any federal interference with slavery, "where it exists under the shield of State sovereignty." One passage in that reply has been understood as conveying a meaning which we did not intend to express. Having referred to "the system of polygamy as it exists in Utah,” we said:
"We look upon it with the same feelings of ab-horrence in Utah, as in Turkey, or in Ashanti. But we cannot reach it in either case, except by moral means. If, however, Utah shall apply to be receiv-ed into the Union, or shall adopt territorial laws sanctioning polygamy, then we shall have a per-sonal responsibility for the existence of polygamy there, which we cannot feel for the system in Tur-key or Ashanti. It will then be within our power as citizens to testify against it by our vote."
We did not at all intend to acknowledge or im-ply, that the prohibition of polygamy in the terri-tories is not within the constitutional power of Congress. What we were thinking of was the fact, that at present the question of polygamy in the territories is not—while the question of slavery in the territories is—before the people of the United States, as a question to be decided by their votes. Inadvertently we used language which implied more than was in our thoughts.
Not having the necessary documents within our reach, we do not certainly know what is the pre-cise state of the "territorial laws" in Utah. It may be inferred, however, from the notorious facts in the case, that the Mormon Legislature has adopted "territorial laws sanctioning polygamy." If there is no positive territorial law recognizing the insti-tution of polygamy, the mere absence of a law to punish the practice of polygamy does not make that practice lawful. If there are no "territorial laws sanctioning polygamy," then all the children born in any Mormon harem, save those born of the first and lawfully married wife, are illegitimate; and whether they are children of Brigham Young or of some inferior felon, they are incapable of being anybody's heirs at law. We hold then—and this is clearly implied in the passage we have quot-ed from our former article—that "a responsibility for the existence of polygamy," in the territory of Utah, is now resting on the people of the United States, to whom that territory belongs, and who have entrusted to their Congress the power to make the "needful rules and regulations" under which that territory shall be settled, inhabited and governed, till the inhabitants thereof shall have been recognized as a sovereign State. We hold that every citizen of the United States has "a personal responsibility" for that gross infamy—a responsibility to be discharged by protest and by the exercise of political power—a responsibility which forbids us to rest till Brigham Young and forty-nine of his fifty wives, if they continue to live in their brutishness, shall have served out a rea-sonable sentence of confinement at hard labor in a penitentiary.
So long as the Mormons were not within the limits of any organized territory, and were only a herd of outlaws who had escaped from the re-straints of civilization, our responsibility for their crimes was hardly grater than our responsibility for the polygamy and other barbarous practices of some Indian tribe. But when the time had come to extend over that territory the dominion of law and civilization, to mark out the boundaries of a Slate, and to lay the foundations of civil order, then Congress and all the constituencies of Congress became responsible. The people of the United States, and the Government at Washington, as the organ of their will, were called to the duty of estab-lishing in that territory the provisional arrangements the compact between the settlers and their fellow-citizens in the States, the needful rules and regu-lations, which should facilitate and ensure the growing up of a State fit to be received into the Union. The former precedents of "rules and reg-ulations” for the settlement and temporary govern-ment of territories, were not sufficient for the emer-gency in which Congress was to provide for the settlement and government of that territory. A new peril to civilization had arisen—a peril which had never been anticipated. The territory was al-ready occupied in part by a formidable body of banditti, outlaws from civilization, organized under a despotism of the vilest sort, whom the inhabi-tants of a Slave State on the one hand, and of a Free State on the other, had expelled because their presence was intolerable; and in that territory the licentiousness by which they had been elsewhere characterized, had grown into a filthy and shameless institution of polygamy. Most obviously, the Gov-ernment at Washington, in the performance of its constitutional duty of making "all needful rules and regulations" for the provisional government of the territory infested with such a plague, and threatened with so dire a peril, ought to have in-corporated with the organic act a rule and regulation for the exclusion of polygamy. A proviso that no act of the territorial legislature should in any manner legalize the marriage of more than one wife with one husband, or of more than one husband with one wife, or make the children of any other than a lawful marriage heirs at law to any estate; that any man living in a pretended marriage with more than one wife, or any woman living in pre-tended marriage with, more than one husband, should be guilty of a felony, punishable with not less than two years of penitentiary imprisonment—would have been a sufficient, but no more than a needful rule and regulation. And had the enactment of such a proviso been followed up by the appoint-ment of able and trustworthy men for governor and judges, with an adequate military force to secure the rights of the American people in their own territory, the difficulty would have have been met and van-quished.
Why was not this done? Everybody knows the reason. The responsibility of the federal govern-ment, and of the people whom it represents, was plain enough; but in the progress of political de-generacy, it had come to be believed at Washing-ington, and by party leaders generally, that to evade responsibility is the highest art of statesman-ship and the most praiseworthy style of patriotism. The question therefore, when it became necessary for Congress to establish a territorial government in Utah, was not how to exclude polygamy from Utah, but how to dodge the manifest duty of ex-cluding it.
But what made the duty of Congress in that case a difficult duty? Just this. There was an obvious and irresistible inference from the power of Con-gress to prohibit polygamy in the territories, to the power of Congress to prohibit slavery in the terri-tories. The slavetrading interest had determined that the original policy of the Government in that respect should be subverted, and that slavery should be recognized as a national institution. For the re-lief of Senator Cass and other Northern candidates for a nomination to the Presidency, the beautiful dodge of "squatter sovereignty" had been invent-ed—a dodge by which the troublesome question of slavery in the territories was to be for ever got rid of, and the sovereignty of the American people over their own territories was to be abdicated. But if this dodge was to be applied to the slavery question, it must be also applied to the polygamy question. Therefore it became necessary that "the great measures of pacification," which were to sig-nalize the administration of Mr. Fillmore, should include the legalization of polygamy in Utah, and the virtual establishment of the Mormon despotism.
Another dodge—an executive dodge—became ne-cessary in carrying into effect the act for a terri-torial government in Utah. Possibly the Mor-mons might not submit to the authority of officers sent from the United States and commissioned by the President and Senate, when they had officers of their own pretending to a commission directly from heaven. There might be a collision between the authority of the Mormon despot and the au-thority of a governor sent to inaugurate civiliza-tion, order, and religious liberty. In that case it would be necessary to bring the Mormons into subjection and order by force. Mr. Fillmore dodged the difficulty by a happy expedient, quite worthy of his sagacity. Instead of looking for a wise, ex-perienced, firm, and prudent man to whom that delicate and arduous office, the government of Utah, might be safely entrusted, he committed the momentous trust to the chief felon in that horde of outlaws, the Mormon Pope, the profane and lying prophet, the filthy and abhorred polyga-mist, Brigham Young. Thus the danger of col-lision was evaded, for it was quite impossible that the governor and the prophet, being one and the same person, should get into a quarrel. It was as if Mr. Yan Buren, in the time of his Presidency, had terminated the Seminole war by appointing Billy Bowlegs Governor of Florida.
And now, in the year 1856, Mr. Fillmore is the distinctively and exclusively Know-Nothing can-didate for the Presidency. He is the candidate to be voted for by those who abhor the Pope and spiritual despotism—as if the despotism of poor old Pio Nono and all his possible successors could be more hostile to civilization, to Christianity, to morals, or to American institutions, than the des-potism of Brigham Young. He is the candidate to be voted for by those conservative people who are afraid of the immigration of ignorant and degrad-ed foreigners—as if any foreigners that come to this country from any part of Christendom could be, as a class, more ignorant, more degraded, or a more dangerous element in "society, than the de- based and credulous wretches whom Mormon em-issaries are sweeping together from all parts of Europe. The fact that, instead of being dispersed and distributed so that the diffused influence of American intelligence and American institutions can act upon them, they are thrown into a terri-tory by themselves, where all the power is in the hands of their own leaders, and where they can keep the passes of our Overland route to the Pacific States, makes them not less dangerous, butmore so.
Settle the question of slavery in the territories, and the question of polygamy in the territories is also settled. The one issue before the country—the issue of slavery or freedom in the territories—the issue between the Cincinnati platform with its candidate on the one hand, and the great prin-ciple of freedom with its representative on the other hand—draws after it in every direction the most momentous interests of our common country.
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