The Mormon War.
From the London Times, Dec. 24.
The simple explanation to the Mormon question, given by the President of the United States in his Message to Congress, shows at once the position of the Supreme Government, the res-olution of the rebel community, and the propor-tions which the embarrassment is likely to ac-quire. The contest now impending is in many re-spects a remarkable one. It represents an insur-rection, theoretically treasonable, of a single city against the powerful Union of which it forms a part; it is based, upon maxims, however atrocious-ly caricatured, Of religious liberty, and it involves the fortunes and, perhaps, the lives of many of our own countrymen, who have been drawn from their homes into the great deserts of Utah by this monstrous delusion. There can be no obscurity about the question of right, nor, indeed, about that of might; but the unparalleled character of the Mormon settlement may still create difficulties of no common kind.
The Territory of Utah is a very considerable one, greatly exceeding in dimensions Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky all taken together. In the ordinary course of things it would not have been colonized for some time to come, for the vast districts of Kansas, still unpopulated, lie between it and the nearest settled States. The Mormons, however, had objects of their own, and, instead of occupying the first vacant lands in their westward route, like other settlers, they purposely removed themselves to the greatest possible distance from the frontier of civilization To this proceeding no objection was made, and they carried accordingly their rites and institutions beyond the chain of the Rocky Mountains to the banks of the Great Salt Lake. At this spot they built their city, and the whole Ter-ritory, which is still, with little exception, in the possession of roving Indians, was placed under the superintendence of United States officers, accord-ing to appoin ed forms. The Supreme Govern-ment deputed a Territorial Governor, a Secretary, three Judges, a Marshal, and a District Attorney-General, to represent its authority ; and under this authority the Mormons, like all other colonists of the Territory, were bound to live. The land was not theirs, it belonged to the Union ; nor did their independence embrace more than their own do-mestic institutions. It happens that the Governor appointed by the President is also the head of the Mormon theocracy. BRIGHAM YOUNG unites in his own person the supremacy ascribed to him by his deluded followers and the authority delegated by the Federal Government; but the latter com mission, which alone gives him any cognizable power, is revocable at any time. It was natural enough to invest with the authority de jure in these parts the only person who could exercise it de facto; but the arrangement was purely dis-cretional, and any President of the United Stages could, with the consent of the Senate, send a new Governor to rule over the Territory of Utah.
These conditions of Government were not satis-factory to the Mormon Chief; indeed, anything short of entire absolutism was inconsistent with his claims and position as spiritual head of the community. A man pretending to govern not simply by Divine right, but by Divine inspiration, and asserting that his own edicts represented the immediate will of the Almighty, could not be sub-missive to Judges and Marshals, or bow to the de-cisions of a secular court. It was clear, moreover, that if the exclusive claims of the Mormons in Utah were ever surrendered, and the Territory peopled by independent settlers, their advantages would vanish at once, and their dominant theoc-racy dwindle into the insignificance of an isolated congregation. Mormonism, in fact, was incompatible with the political subordination which the occupa-tion of an American territory assumed, and when the obscurity contemplated by these fanatics in their retreat to the Salt Lake became partially dis-pelled through the overland migrations to Califor-nia the elements of conflict were soon apparent. The present result of the struggle may be gathered from Mr. BUCHANAN’S remark, that "all the offi-cers of the United States, judicial and executive, with the single exception of two Indian agents, have found it necessary for their personal safety to withdraw from the Territory, and there no longer remains any government in Utah but the despot-ism of BRIGHAM YOUNG."
Nothing can be plainer than that the claim to in-dependence on the part of the Mormon rulers is utterly without warrant, and that the measures taken by the Supreme Government for the restora-tion of its authority are entirely in accordance with justice, Every square yard of the Utah Ter-ritory, including the Salt Lake City itself, pertains, not to the Mormon congr egations, but to the United States, and it is perfectly competent to the United States' Government to maintain its jurisdiction by officers of its own appointment from time to time. BRIGHAM YOUNG, in. the proclamation by which he opposes the expedition sent to Utah, bases his pro-ceedings on his authority as Governor of the Terri-tory, but the order has gone out to supersede him, his successor is appointed, and in default of his commission from Washington he remains without any more political jurisdiction in the Territory of Utah than is possessed by the poorest member of his congregation. The question, as Mr BUCHANAN observes, is altogether independent of Mormon doctrines. The authority of the Supreme Govern-ment, as represented by its own officers, has been defied and subverted in its own Territories, and must therefore be restored.
We have received from other sources informa-tion which enables us to depict the position of the expeditionary army which was dispatched some months ago on its toilsome journey. The difficul-ties of the route itself have been successfully sur-mounted, and a division of the force, including the 5th Regiment of Infantry, eight companies of the 10th, and two batteries of Artillery, had arrived within about 150 miles of the Mormon city. At this point, however, the officer in command was served with a notice from BRIGHAM YOUNG for-bidding him to advance and directing him to re-tire. By way of giving force to these injunctions the Mormons intercepted a train coming up with supplies, and destroyed the convoy, but beyond this hostilities had not proceeded. It was the in-tention of the United States commander to pierce, if possible, to the valley of the Bear River—a stream falling into the Great Salt Lake, and there establish himself in the village till the return of Spring opened a short and easy road into the city. If his force proved insufficient for this operation, he contemplated retiring in a northeast direction to the valleys of the Wind Paver Mountains—a portion of the Great Reeky Chain—where he could maintain himself in security and plenty un-til circumstances enabled him to renew his ad-ance.
Except that it is impossible, as events elsewhere have taught us, to calculate on the impulses of fanatical passion, we should not be disposed to expect much bloodshed from this extraordinary war. The charge of rebellion will probably not be pushed home against the Mormons, nor do the Mormons at present evince much inclination for a life-or-death battle. Mr. BUCHANAN, it will be seen, adopts a tone of compassion rather than in-dignation, and speaks of the Mormons as friends instead of enemies. BRIGHAM YOUNG, in his no-tice, freely offers to supply the invading troops with necessaries, providing they limit their move-ments according to his injunctions ; and he can-not be ignorant, notwithstanding his presumption, that his ultimate success against the Government of the Union is an utter impossibility. The dan-ger consists in the chances of sanguinary collision between the forces now confronting each other in the Territory. We have seen it estimated, or conjectured, that BRIGHAM YOUNG could bring into the field 20,000 desperate combatants; but, although the proportion of fighting men in a community like this would be unusually great, we believe this computation is excessive. At a cen-sus in 1853, the entire population of the Territory was but 18,206. and it is hardly probable that it can have been so rapidly increased during the interval as to turn out in 1857 more than that number o adult males. The Indians, however, of the Territory amount to some 12,000, and it is an-ticipated that BRIGHAM YOUNG will have these auxiliaries at his disposal. The numbers of the United States' force actually on the spot at the latest advices would probably fall short of 2,000, but these are well armed, organized, and disci-plined, whereas it is hardly to be expected that the Mormons can display much beyond individual reso lotion. Still, the supreme Government is now at its weakest, and, if the expedition advances, BRIG-HAM YOUNG may possibly find himself the stronger for the time. We should incline, however, to the supposition that he will yield to necessity, and conduct his congregation, as he easily can, through one more flight It has been thought that the Mormons might move into the Russian territory, and settle themselves at the very extremity of the continent, on the brink of those mysterious straits which divide America from Asia, or that they might find in the northern provinces of Mexico a field for colonization under a Government unlike-ly to interfere with them. A migration is upon the whole, the most probable termination of the conflict, and we can only hope that it may be de-cided upon before the miserable dupes of this de-grading superstition have been dragged by their leaders into the palpable calamities of war.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.