VISITING THE MORMONS.
BY LIEUT.-GOV. WILLIAM BROSS, OF ILL.
THEODORE TILTON, ESQ.,
EDITOR OF THE INDEPENDENT :
MY DEAR SIR :—If you will accept the following notes, in accordance with year request to give you some facts in relation to the Mormons, observed in my late tour across the continent, with Mr. Speaker Colfax, they are at your service.
Driven out from Illinois and Missouri in 1847, if we mistake not, the Mormons took up their line of march westward, intending, no doubt, to swing down to the Southwest, and settle in Mexico. Arriving in the vi-cinity of Salt Lake, with provisions and strength nearly exhausted, Brigham Young and several of his elders climbed up a mountain peak, and here "the prophet" had, or pretended to have, a revelation, that in this valley the saints were to live and flourish, safe from all pestiferous Gentiles, for all time to come. Judging from the few trappers who, up to that time, had ever traversed these distant, inhospitable regions, there seemed much truth in the visions of Brigham Young. How to win a subsist-ence from the desolation that surrounded them was the great, all-absorbing problem. Some of them had heard of irrigation as a means of rendering barren soils fruitful. The beautiful crystal streams were deflect-ed from their beds, seeds were planted, and by fall a scanty supply of grain and vege-tables were raised, which, with the game they were able to take, enabled the saints to live through their first and most trying winter. But Providence did not intend that polygamy should intrench itself at the center of the continent, and revel in its wickedness, unchallenged by the Christian civilization of the world. Gold was about this time discovered in California, and an immense flood of emigration poured across the country. It was greatly beneficial to the Mormons, and in many cases emigrants as well; for, with teams and supplies ex-hausted, they were enabled to go on their way rejoicing by what they were able to buy of the "saints."
SALT LAKE CITY.
It is impossible to conceive of any sight more beautiful and refreshing than when the traveler, having trudged his weary way for more than a thousand miles, with only sage-brush to relieve the scene from stark savage desolation, emerges from the deep gorge in the mountains, and for the first time looks down upon Great Salt Lake City. To the right, twenty miles distant, the lake itself stretches far away to the north. Twenty-five miles across the valley of the Jordan is a high range of moun-tains ; for miles, north and south, the valley is covered with splendid farms ; while at your feet, with its broad streets and houses embowered in trees, is the far-famed city of "the saints." As you enter it, you observe a pure stream of water sparkling along each side of all the streets, from which each thrifty Mormon, as it babbles along, leads a little thread into his garden, and around among his fruits and flowers, forming a perfect paradise of beauty. Seen in June, as we saw it, Salt Lake is certainly one of the most delightful cities upon the conti-nent. COURTESIES—POLYGAMY.
The city council and the leading gentle-men in the Mormon community received us with marked attention. During our week's stay all was done that courtesy and the greatest possible kindness could do to blind the eyes of Mr. Colfax and his party to the evils of polygamy, and to bribe their tongues and pens to silence on that subject. One does not like to condemn the charac-ter of those who overwhelm him with genu-ine politeness and good-will. But stern duty to our country, and to the Mormons, as well, requires that we should deal de-cidedly with that monstrous evil which forms a most important, if not an essential, element of their social system. Perhaps no other visitors at Salt Lake ever had such ample opportunities to observe the peculiar workings of Mormonism. The principal men among them took us on a pic-nic to Salt Lake; Brigham Young and his elders called upon us, and talked with us familiarly for two hours ; the call was returned, and when all general topics were exhausted, and we were about to leave; Brigham himself introduced the sub-ject of polygamy, and asked Mr. Speaker what the Government was going to do about it. Mr. Colfax replied that he could only speak for himself, and, as he had heard that the Mormons claimed that polygamy was introduced by direct com-mand from Heaven, he ardently hoped that the President would very soon have another revelation, peremptorily forbidding the sys-tem. This opened the discussion, and for more than an hour Brigham and his elders plied all the arguments they could command for their favorite dogma, and Mr. Colfax and his friends replied with all the reasons and the wit they could bring to bear against it. The best of feeling was maintained on both sides; and, as usual, probably both were more than ever determined to adhere to their own peculiar views. At another time, a leading Mormon merchant gave a dinner-party to Mr. Colfax and his friends, at which Brigham Young and his elders were invited ; and in various ways we min-gled familiarly and socially with the peo-ple. The results of our observations were about as follows:
Brigham Young and other dignitaries, and the merchants of Salt Lake, are earn-est, energetic, and apparently sincere men. Sincerely wrong in one respect they surely are; but there was much less fanaticism and bigotry than we had expected to see. They are intelligent, shrewd, and very able business men. In this regard they will, in our judgment, compare favorably with an equal number of business men in any city in the land. Seeing them, and mingling with them, unless the topic were intro-duced, one would not suspect them of prac-ticing polygamy. Within the last few years they have grown wealthy. The sources of their riches are easily understood. Daring all the California emigration, scores, and in some years hundreds, and even thou-sands, of emigrants would arrive at Salt Lake with their teams broker down, or half of them dead, and, therefore, unable to pro-ceed. Of course, the Mormons were ready, in true Yankee style, to trade good animals for those that were about worn-out, pocket-ing a handsome difference in hard cash. In a few months at most, these broken-down animals would be fat and sleek, and Mr. Mormon elder was ready to trade with the next emigrant that came along. Of course, many goods and provisions were sold to emigrants. Within the last four years there has been a great rush of emigration to Montana and Idaho, and the Mormons have been able to sell all their surplus grain and provisions, at fabulous prices. With corn at three to six dollars a bushel, and wheat at eight to ten dollars, and pro-visions of all kinds at proportionate figures, the Mormons have become rich far sooner than any other people upon the continent. Now, the hundred thousand people of Utah give a tenth of all they produce or manufacture to the church. Brigham Young and his elders are the church, and hence the untold wealth they have been able to place in their coffers. Two of the merchants of Salt Lake assured us that their freight-bills alone would amount dur-ing the present year to $150,000.
Thus much of the Mormon men; my readers will ask for our views of the con-dition and social status of the Mormon women. With very few exceptions, the Mormons did not introduce us to their wives, and we were told that is their usual custom. From all we could observe, however, and from the assurance of our Gentile friends, some of whom have lived in Salt Lake for years, we became satisfied that there is not a cheerful, contented, and real happy Mormon woman in all Utah. As we saw them in the streets, the taberna-cle, and elsewhere, they appeared to us de-jected and heart-broken. Perhaps we can better illustrate their condition, if pardoned for revealing the following incident: On the evening we left Chicago, a large num-ber of ladies and gentlemen called at my house to bid the Speaker and myself good-bye. Some of my lady friends gave me a mischievous nudge, and said : "You will take Salt Lake in your journey." I replied: "Certainly, that lies directly upon our route." "Well," they said, "now don't stay there too long, and let those Salt Lake beauties steal away your heart." Pointing to madam, I said : "Do you see that pale-faced lady there among the crowd?" "Yes, I see Mrs. B." I said : "That feeble woman, always in delicate health, has ruled me perfectly for twenty-five years, and what in the world could I do with half-a-dozen strong, healthy wives?" Talking playfully with several Mormon gentlemen on polygamy, I told them this little inci-dent, when one of them remarked, with significant emphasis : "If you had half-a-dozen wives, it would then be YOUR PLACE TO RULE." That's it exactly. The Mormon women are ruled, and, from the very position in which they are placed, they must be. They are, and must be, slaves not only to the will, but to the lusts of men. When woman ceases to be the equal and the glory of her husband, she becomes hopelessly degraded. Envy, jealousy, and her other baser passions sub-due, and, so to speak, sponge out the higher and the nobler principles of her nature. Thus it often happens that the more wives a man has, the more all but the last one will urge him to take. For instance, No. Five is the youngest, and the pet of the hus-band. In order to bring down her high looks, the first four regard with favor the prospect of the sixth being added to their number, and often even conspire with womanly art to bring the match about. The difference between a fifth and the sixth part of a husband's attentions, as the math-ematicians sometimes say of infinitessimal quantities, is so small that it may be neglected. In this way, as in many others, the tendency of polygamy is to extend and increase the inseparable evils by which Providence has surrounded it. The cer-tain results of this system do not yet ap-pear, for the leading men among the Mor-mons grew to manhood in New and Old England, New York, and other states ; but, if permitted to exist—as it surely should not—for two or three generations, the es-sential brutality of degrading woman to the position of a mere animal, to give birth to other human animals, will be manifest in all its glaring and stupendous wicked-ness. May the nation be spared from the sin and the reproach of such a spectacle.
is a man of about medium height, with an immense chest, giving assurance of tre-mendous vital energy. His head is large, forehead high, round, and broad, his hair and whiskers incline to auburn, and, though he is sixty-four years of age, scarcely a gray hair can be seen, and not a wrinkle detected upon his red and expressive face. His nose resembles the hawk's bill, and his lips, firmly closing, with his blue and at times flashing eyes, betoken the great force and indomitable energy which he has al-ways manifested. As some one said of Na-poleon, "he is one of the favored few, born to command." He is also one of the shrewdest and most cunning of men, and sensible to the power money gives, and withal possessed of business talents of the highest order. He is now, it is believed, one of the wealthiest men in the nation. While he lives, the Mormon community—unless he and they determine to defy the laws of Congress on the subject of polygamy—will grow and prosper ; but that firm hand and iron will must ere long, despite his regular and strictly temperate habits (he uses no tobacco nor liquor of any kind) tremble and bow before the resistless march of time; and when Brigham Young sleeps with his fathers, then will come the search-ing test before which, we predict, the whole Mormon fabric will crumble to the dust. It may and doubtless will, continue to exist as a religious sect; but as a compact and tre-mendously effective organization, its power will cease when Brigham Young's heart is forever still. In the settlement of his vast estate among his two-score and more of wives and some sixty children there is ample room for quarrels and lawsuits, potent enough to break up the entire community. But let the future solve all these problems as an all-wise Providence shall direct.
But another and most powerful influence is already at work to counteract the in-fluence of Mormonism. We found in Salt Lake City a small but an active Congrega-tional church, organized, and in very suc-cessful operation, under the pastoral care of Rev. Mr. McLeod. He is a capital preacher, and a wise and judicious, but thoroughly independent, fearless man. In intellect he is the peer of any of the Mormon dignitaries, and in cultivation and varied learning he is vastly their superior. To us it seemed as if Providence had pre-cisely adapted him to the great work he has given him to do. The Sunday-school is large and highly prosperous. The children of many of the Mormon people are permitted to attend. Under the wholesome protec-tion of Gen. Conner and his brave boys in blue, not a few of those who have long been disgusted with Mormonism, and who previously had not dared to make their opinions known, are now members or ac-tive supporters of Mr. McLeod's church. The opening of the mines in Rush Valley and the building of the Pacific Railway will bring in a large "Gentile" population, and the Government will thus, in a very few years, be able to enforce the laws against polygamy. In one way or another it must cease. Probably, in its pride and arrogance, like slavery, it will, with its own hands, dig deep the pit in which our Christian civilization will bury its loathsome, dis-gusting carcass out of sight forever.
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