The John Taylor Papers, by Samuel W. & Raymond W. Taylor Volume I, The Apostle

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As the conflict raged in the nation, as pestilence, insurrection,

fire, famine, slaughter and earthquake ravaged the world at large, John

Taylor viewed impending chaos as the inevitable prelude to the

establishment of the kingdom of God.

Why is it that the world rages? Why is it that the priests of the day are

angrythat politicians are mad? It is because the Lord has set forth his hand

to accomplish his purposes and bring to pass the things spoken of by the holy

prophets . . . .

Who would have thought, a little while ago, that these United Statesone

of the best governments under the heavens if properly administeredcould have

been reduced to the present critical position? Who would have thought, a

little while ago, that all the ingenuity, skill, talent, power and wealth that

exist in the North and South would be brought to bear against each other for

their mutual destruction? . . .

The Lord will bring to pass his strange purpose, and accomplish the

things he has designed. It is for us to live our religion, to appreciate fully

the Gospel we possess, and fully obey its requirements, submit to its laws,

and yield to its dictations, following the direction of the holy Priesthood,

which holds the keys of the mysteries of the revelations of God, magnifying

our callings and honouring our God, that we may be prepared to fulfil our

destiny upon the earth . . . .

[223] Here we are a comparatively few people in the valleys of Utah who are

talking of seeing a kingdom set up, not only in these mountains but which

shall rule over the whole earth, that like a little stone hewn out of the

mountains without hands shall become a great nation and fill the whole earth.

The Saints had confidence in this as they were driven from Kirtland,

from Missouri, and from Illinois.

Their confidence did not fail them when armies came up against them to

destroy them, and the power and influence of the United States were arrayed

against them.

There is a certain unchanging, fixed principle in the bosoms of the

Elders of Israel that God is at the helm, and that no power, no reverses, no

influence that can be brought to bear against the Kingdom of God will

withstand the onward progress, but its course is onward until the kingdoms of

this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and He shall

reign with universal empire; and the kingdoms . . . under the whole heavens

will be given to the Saints of the Most High God. It is impossible to make the

Saints swerve from this feeling. It is in them a principle of life, vitality

and revelation . . . .

God is managing the affairs of all nations, and He has made known His

will and pleasure to His servants the prophets. He has given unto them the

everlasting Gospel, which they have received by the principle of revelation,

and can by that means draw aside the curtain of futurity and . . . understand

the designs of Jehovah . . . .

These men have been sent forth to tell the people of all nations the

things that are coming on them. The Elders of this Church . . . have been

bearing testimony of these things for over thirty years . . . . We have also

told them that their kingdoms would be overthrown and their nations would be

destroyed, and that God would speedily arise and shake terribly the earth . .

. . (1)


"Our nation has fallen from the highest pinnacle of union, power,

fame and wealth to the lowest depth of angry, malignant, bloodthirsty,

fraticidal war," Taylor declared in a notable discourse at the Bowery on

the 4th of July, 1861. At such a time, "It is folly to make speeches

about Washington or American liberty," he said.

We will for the present let them go, and inquire into the causes of the

decay and present position of the United States.

Nations do not rise and fall in a day, without a reason or a cause. The

origin for the unprecedented prosperity of the United States will be found in

a free and liberal constitution, . . . in the integrity of its citizens and

legislators, in its trade and commerce, in its vast agricultural and mineral

resources, in its mercantile and manufacturing ability, in its encouragement

of the arts and sciences, in the industry and talent of its citizens, and in

the rapid development of all the unbounded resources of one of the richest and

most productive soils that the world affords.

As a result, the original thirteen colonies with three million

people had in 85 years "increased to 32 millions, and its territory

extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific."

Liberty, equality, freedom and brotherhood were the foundations of the

noble edifice. The superstructure was raised by unflinching integrity, united

energy, and political and moral virtue . . . . Millions of the downtrodden

sons of Europe flocked to our shores and participated freely with us in the

great and rich blessings of civil and religious liberty . . . . We had a

patriotic people and a united government; we were one . . . .

Now I come to a subject that is painful . . . . For as surely as ever

there is a cause for a disease and decay of [225] the human system, so sure is

there a cause for a decay of the body politic . . . . The Babylonian, the

MediaPersian, the Grecian and the Roman powers have all had their rise, their

decay, their fall, while others of the smaller nations have followed . . . .

And our own great nation, young, fresh, buoyanta little while ago promising

long life, in all the vigor of youth and power of manhoodis suddenly

prostrated . . . .

One of the leading reasons for the fall of this nation will be found in a

loss of national integrity, in the increase of crime and corruption, and a

want of a proper administration of the laws. The constitution is good; the

laws generally are good, but for a great many years past they have been

miserably administered . . . .

Under the administration of Washington, Monroe, Jefferson, Jackson and

others, the country flourished and the laws sustained . . . . As time

advanced, corruption and mob violence began to prevail. A religious party in

the far off west of Missouri were some of them murdered, and the rest driven

from their homes as outcasts . . . . The rights of American citizens were

trampled underfoot, the Constitution and laws desecrated . . . . That

religious people were the Mormons, many of whom are around me now. . . .

Joseph Smith then prophesied that mob law would go forth throughout the

land . . . . Mob rule commenced by slow degrees at first, but it gained power

until like a mighty avalanche it swept through the land. Since then it has

ruled rampant. Safety societies and vigilance committees have in some places

had almost exclusive rule. I have sat down with two United States Senators, a

Governor of a state, a general and other officers, and heard them deliberately

plan the removal of a great and numerous people . . . .

American citizens because the law could offer them no redress, no religious

freedom, no political franchise, no right of speech, no right of vote, no

right to worship God, no right to live, breathe or exist in the "land of the

free, the home of the brave, and the asylum for the oppressed

[226] I have seen men murdered in cold blood without redress, their murderers

going unpunished, and thousands driven from the state of Illinois, for no

other crime than worshipping God according to the dictates of their own


Taylor's attitude toward tyranny was reflected by Eliza R. Snow's

poem, "Ode to the Fourth Day of July."

Shall we commemorate the day

With freedom's ensigns waving high,

Whose blood stain'd banners furl'd away

Whose rights and freedom have gone by?

Should we, when gasping 'neath its wave,

Extol the beauties of the sea?

Or, lash'd upon fair freedom's grave,

Proclaim the strength of liberty?

It is heartrendering mockery!

I'd sooner laugh 'midst writhing pain,

Than chant the songs of liberty

Beneath oppression's galling chain!

Columbia's glory is a theme

That with our life's warm pulses grew,

But ah! 'tis fledand, like a dream,

Its ghost is flutt'ring in our view! . . . (2)

At the Bowery, Taylor detailed the causes of the nation's turmoil:

The Constitution virtually destroyed, outrages of every kind were

perpetrated. Men shamefully "stumped their States," and pandered to the basest

passions of men. . . . They offered their patriotism . . . as unblushingly as

a bad woman does her charms. Frauds of every kind began to be practiced at the

polls. Newspapers and men were bought and sold like beasts of barter . . . .

Pugilists [227] controlled the polls, and . . . "ballot stuffing," as it is

termed, became almost the rule instead of the exception.

The modest and retiring men of worth stepped aside and gave place to

fiery sectionists and blatant demagogues. Hence, in Congress, the most

disgraceful proceedings took placeviolent language, personal abuse,

crimination, recrimination and death took the place of calm deliberation,

intelligence, highmindedness, decorum and patriotism, until our Senate and

House of Representatives became the arena of violencethe theater for the

display of all the baser passions of humanity.

Corruption and a lack of integrity, commencing at the head, spread

through all the branches of the body politic. Places were bought and sold . .

. . For some months after a President's election, he is run after by

officeseekers, . . . who like a pack of hungry dogs howl for a bone.

Thus our custom houses, post offices, gubernatorial chairs, judgeships,

Indian agencies, councils, ministers, and all places of honor and emolument

are filled generally with men who, to say the least, are mere partisans.

Defalcations have existed to an alarming extent. The grossest and most

palpable frauds have been perpetrated on the Government, and the Treasury is

annually robbed of millions by the peculations of what ought to be honorable

men. For years past at Washington, it has been almost impossible for a man to

get his just dues without bribery . . . . Individuals vie with states, while

states and territories vie with the United States, in acts of public plunder.

The Judiciary has also placed itself beneath contempt. Particularly in

many of the new states and territories, justice has been bought and sold . . .

In our own territory, we have had judges who gave sat for months trying to

implicate the innocent. Failing that, they unblushingly turned vagabonds,

thieves and murderers loose on the community . . . .

[228] Notwithstanding the health and vigor of the young republic, which, in

its giant strength has long withstood the insidious power of the disease, it

has at length succumbed. When individual communities, states, judges,

governors and presidents can with impunity trample underfoot the law . . . and

treat with contempt the Constitution, . . . when honor, purity, virtue and

integrity are gone, where are the cohesive qualitiesthe lifegiving

powerthe vital energy? Like a tree attacked by a worm that has struck its

roots. . . . in time its strength and glory fades, the foliage withers, the

limbs dry up, and the barkless, diseased trunk finally falls beneath the power

of the destroyer . . . .

The United States of Americathat boasted justly of its greatness, its

power, its commerce, trade and agriculture, its civil and religious

institutionsthe last born, as it were, among nations, the glory and pride of

the world is fallen and dismembered, severed, shattered and broken.

It may now be proper to inquire what part shall we take in the present

difficulties . . . . Shall we join the North to fight against the South? No!

Shall we join the South against the North? As emphatically, No! Why? They have

both . . . brought it upon themselves, and we have had no hand in the matter .

. . .

The Constitution of the United States has ever been respected and honored

by us. We consider it one of the best national instruments ever formed. Nay,

further, Joseph Smith in his day said it was given by inspiration of God. We

have ever stood by it, and we expect when the fanaticism of false, blatant

friends shall have torn it shred from shred, to stand by the shattered ruins

and uphold the broken, desecrated remnants of our country's institutions in

all their primitive purity and pristine glory. Our motto has always been, and

ever will be, "freedom to the Jew, Moslem, Greek and Christian." Our banner

floats for all, and we would not only proclaim liberty throughout the land,

but freedom to the world. (3)


In speaking of the kingdom of God on earth, Taylor compared the

concept with earthly practicalities.

We are selected out from among the nations that the Lord may place His

name among us. He has called upon us and we have listened to His voice and

obeyed the testimony of His servants . . . . Like some of old, a few of us had

been waiting to see the salvation of Israel, and our eyes have seen the

salvation of the Lord . . . .

Although we can seemingly grasp eternity, and revel in divine things, yet

it appears that we cannot understand how to take care of some of the first and

plainest interests of life, rendering it necessary for the President to place

guardians over us in the persons of Bishops to take care that we do not throw

our bread away and have to starve . . . .

The Latterday Saints ought to be able to take care of themselves. Men

that are talking of possessing thrones, principalities and power, of becoming

kings and priests unto God, ought to know how to take care of enough wheat to

supply the wants of themselves and their families . . . . We talk of becoming

like God. What does he do? He governs this and other worlds, regulates all the

systems and gives them their motions and revolutions. In our world he gives

day and night, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest. He adapts man, the

beasts of the field, the fowls of the air and the fishes of the sea, to their

various climates and elements. . . . His hand is over all and His providence

sustains all. "The hairs of our head are numbered, and a sparrow cannot fall

to the ground without our heavenly Father's notice; He clothes the lilies of

the valleys and feeds the ravens when they cry . . . ."

We would be like him! Be kings and priests unto God and rule with him.

And yet we are obliged to have guardians placed over us to teach us how to

take care of a bushel of wheat . . . . (4)


Congress rejected the application of Utah Territory to be admitted

to the union as the State of Deseret. As carpetbag government continued,

John Taylor protested the tyranny of Federal appointees.

When we left . . . the United States, what did we leave for? Why did we

leave that country? Was it because its institutions were not good? No. Was it

because its constitution was not one of the best that was ever framed? No. Was

it because the laws of the United States . . . were not good? No. Why was it?

It was because there was not sufficient virtue found in the Executive to

sustain their own laws. That was the reason . . . .

Well, but do you not hold allegiance to the government of the United

States also? Do you not believe in the laws and institutions thereof? Yes, we

have always sustained and upheld them. And although we have had many very

heavy provocations to make us feel rebellious and opposed to that government;

yet we have always sustained it under all circumstances and in every position.

When they tried to cut our throats, we rather objected to that, you know.

We had some slight objection to having our heads cut off and trampled

underfoot. We did not think it was either constitutional or legal. But when

they took their swords away from our necks and said that we might enjoy the

rights of American citizens, that was all we wanted.

There is, however, a kind of political heresy that we have always

adopted. We have always maintained that we had a right to worship God as we

thought proper. . . . and that we would vote as we pleased . . . . It has

always been a principle with us, and in fact is given in one of our

revelations, that "he who will observe the laws of God need not transgress the

laws of the land . . . ."

We had sent among us Governors, appointed by the United States,

Judges, a Secretary, Marshal, and all [231] the adjuncts, powers, and officers

with the Territorial government. By them, in many instances, we have been

traduced, abused, outraged, and imposed upon. Have we retorted against the

United States? No, we have not.

Is it the duty of Federal officers . . . to conspire against the people

they come among? Is it their duty to traduce, abuse, vilify, and misrepresent

them? In other places such men would be summarily dealt with. We have borne

these things. They were not very much calculated to strengthen the attachment

that we had so often manifested to the government of which we form a part.

Still, we have been true to our trust, to our integrity, and to the

institutions and constitution of our country all the time....

Through some of these misrepresentations and a corrupt administration, a

pretext was found to send an army out here. We heard the report sounding along

from those plains that they were coming to destroy and lay waste. What, a

government destroy its own offspring? An army raised against an infant

territory? The cannon and the sword, the rifle and the pistol, brought to

spread death and desolation among a peaceful people? . . .

What was left for us to do under those circumstances but to act as men

and American citizens? To fall back on our reserved rights, and say to those

political gamblers who would stake the lives of the citizens of a Territory in

their damning games, "Back with your hosts, touch not God's anointed, and do

His prophets no harm." Was there anything wrong with that? No; I would do it a

thousand times over . . . .

But we frequently hear, "You are not loyal." Who is it that talks of

loyalty? Those who are stabbing the country to its very vitals. Are they the

men that are loyal? Those who are sowing the seeds of discord; those who are

perjuring themselves before high heaven and the country they profess to

serveare these the loyal men? If so, God preserve me and this people from

such loyalty.


In July 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of

Congress prohibiting polygamy in the territories. John Taylor denounced

this legislation as unconstitutional.

Do you profess to ignore the laws of the land? No; not unless they are

unconstitutional, then I would do it all the timewhenever the Congress of

the United States, for instance, passes a law interfering with my religion, or

with my religious rights.

I will read a small portion of that instrument called the Constitution of

the United Statesnow almost obsoletewhich says, "Congress shall pass no

law interfering with religion or the free exercise thereof." And I would say,

gentlemen, you may go to Gibraltar with your law, and I will live my religion.

When you become violators of the Constitution you have sworn before high

heaven to uphold, and perjure yourselves before God, then I will maintain the

right, and leave you to take the wrong, just as you please . . . .

Who that is acquainted with the moral state of Christendom at the present

time does not shudder when reflecting upon the depravity, corruption,

licentiousness, and debauchery that everywhere stalk around? We have left this

state of things, and the Lord has introduced a new order amongst us, for we

profess to be under His guidance and direction, and consequently our ideas and

practices must be very different from those which obtain in the world.

We have more wives than one. Why? Because God ordained it. And we

maintain our wives and children. But they do not maintain their mistresses and

children, yet they will prate to us about their beautiful systems . . . . If

we have wives and children, we are not afraid to acknowledge them as such. We

do not have the children of one woman riding with us in a carriage, while

those of another are sweeping the streets and asking us for a half[233]penny.

Nor are they paupers on the community. We do not believe in any such morality

as that . . . .

They say the course we pursue has a tendency to degrade women. We think

it has a tendency to elevate them, and the course pursued by the world is one

of the most damnably corrupt and oppressive that it is possible to conceive .

. . . Yet men who are steeped to the lips in such foul depravity and horrid

practices will preach to us about purity and morality . . . .

Our position is just as Joseph said: If we could not receive the . . .

everlasting gospel; if we could not receive the dictum of a Priesthood that

administers in time and eternity; if we could not receive a principle that

would save us in the eternal world, and our wives and children with us, we

were not fit to hold this kingdom . . . for it would be taken from us and

given to others . . . .

What did this principle open up to our view? That our wives, who have

been associated with us in time, . . . could reign with us in the eternal

kingdoms of God, and that they should be sealed to us not only for time, but

for all eternity . . . .

Congress says, if you fulfill that law we will inflict upon you pains and

penalties, fines and imprisonmentin effect, we will not allow you to follow

God's commands....

Whence came this law upon our statute books? Who constituted them our

consciencekeepers? Who appointed them the judge of our religious faith, or

authorized them to coerce us to transgress a law that is binding and

imperative on our conscience? We do not expect that Congress is acquainted

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