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

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with our religious faith; but . . . we do claim the guarantees of the

Constitution and immunity from persecution on merely religious grounds....

We are trying to carry out the principle which God has revealedwhich

is, to make all women wives, to respect, honor, and bless them while they live

on the [234] earth, and to exalt them to thrones in the celestial kingdom of

God hereafter. Is there anything low, grovelling or calculated to humble or

destroy in that? It is the most blessed, most noble, most exalted principle

that ever God revealed to man . . . .

In relation to all these matters, the safe path for the Saints to take is

to do right, and, by the help of God, to seek diligently and honorably to

maintain the position which they hold. Are we ashamed of marrying wives? No.

We shall not be ashamed before God and the holy angels, much less before a

number of corrupt, miserable scoundrels, who are the very dregs of hell. (6)

Three months after passage of the antipolygamy bill, Colonel

Patrick E. Connor led his California Volunteers to Salt Lake City and

established a garrison on the foothills, Ft. Douglas. Utah was once more

under military supervision.

Colonel Connor fostered prospecting by his troops. With the

discovery of minerals in Utahparticularly a mountain of copper at

BinghamConnor predicted that Mormonism would be overwhelmed by a

stampede of Gentile miners. "The results so far have exceeded my most

sanguine expectations," Connor reported to his superiors.

Already reliable reports reach me of the discovery of rich gold, silver

and copper mines in almost every direction . . . . If I be not mistaken in

these anticipations, I have no reason to doubt that the Mormon question will

at an early date be finally settled by peaceable means, without the increased

expenditure of a dollar by Government, or, still more important, without the

loss of a single soldier in conflict . . . .

[235] My policy in this Territory has been to invite hither a large Gentile

and loyal population, sufficient by peaceful means and through the ballot box

to overwhelm the Mormons by mere force of numbers, and thus wrest from the

Churchdisloyal and traitorous to the corethe absolute and tyrannical

control of temporal and civil affairs . . . .

The number of miners in the Territory are steadily and rapidly

increasing. With them, and to supply their wants, merchants and traders are

flocking into Great Salt Lake City, which, by its activity, increased number

of Gentile stores and workshops, and the appearance of its thronged and busy

streets, presents a most remarkable contrast to the Salt Lake of one year ago

. . . .

This policy on my part, if not at first understood, is now more fully

appreciated in its startling effect by Brigham Young and his coterie. His

every effort having proved unequal to the task of checking the transformation

. . . he and his Apostles have grown desperate . . . . Hence he and his chief

men make their tabernacles and places of worship resound each Sabbath with the

most outrageous abuse of all that pertains to the Government and the Union.


In common with other church authorities, John Taylor met this threat

by exhorting the Saints to keep apart. from the Gentiles, and unspotted

by the outside world.

We did not come here to copy after anything that exists in the world. We

had no such idea or intention. . . . When men come among us, we should be very

sorry indeed if they found us to be like the world. We are not like them,

neither do we wish to be . . . .

A few days ago I came across a man by the name of Ivins, whose father

apostatized in Nauvoo. The son has been around the mines. I asked him who were

the best offthe people here, or those following mining pursuits? He [236]

said that we were a long way ahead of them. The reason is that we have not

been following a vague phantom; but we have been cultivating the earth. . . .

and the result is that most of us have our houses, gardens, farms, cattle and

sheep; . . . and my opinion is that no community in the world with

our number are so prosperous as the people of Utah. There are

places where there are richer men than you can find amongst us, but there are

great numbers steeped in poverty. Have we any among us who are crying

for bread? Can you find widows and orphans in our midst who are destitute?...

I know of none myself. Can such a state be found in any other country? I have

never met with it in any country where I have traveled. Why is this? Because

the Lord has taught us principles that prompted us to provide for all....

We do not, today, try to imitate any of the governments of the earth. We

do not admire their policy. We do not believe that their systems are correct.

We believe that they have the seeds of dissolution within themselves, that

they will eventually crumble to pieces . . . .

We have left the various churches and sects of the day, and infidel

associations of all kinds, . . . and have gathered here simply because we

believed they were all wrong. Hence, a man must be a fool to suppose that we

are like them, for we have a faith that is entirely different from theirs. Our

ideas, socially and morally, are entirely different from theirs, because ours

come from God, and they get theirs from the notions that exist among men . . .


We believe that God has spoken, . . . that He has revealed to us His

will; that He has restored the ancient gospel with all its fullness,

blessings, richness, power and glory . . . . We believe that the Spirit leads

into all truth; that it brings things past to their remembrance,

and shows them things to come; and in this respect we differ from the

religions of the world, for they have no such idea as this. They do not

believe it.

[237] We believe that the Lord has commenced to establish His kingdom on the

earth, and we look to Him for wisdom and intelligence in regard to all

matters, whether they be of a political, social, or moral nature. Hence, in

these respects, we differ very materially from the rest of the world . . . .

Our religion is more comprehensive than that of the world. It does not prompt

its votaries with the desire to "sit and sing themselves away to everlasting

bliss," but it embraces all the interests of humanity in every conceivable

phase, and every truth in the world comes within its scope.

The Lord is making a great experiment, and we are trying to help Him.

Through the instrumentality of His servants, He has inaugurated the greatest

work ever commenced on earth. We are taking a stand to revolutionize the ideas

of ages, to overcome the fallacies of centuries, and to root out and destroy

the corruptions of past generations by introducing the law of the most high

God. . . . We believe that God has spoken, that the heavens have opened, that

holy angels have appeared, that the truths of God, which for ages have

slumbered, have again burst forth upon us, and that man, once more, is brought

into communion with his Maker. We have laid aside our religious dogmas,

theories, follies, and nonsense, and we have one faith, one Lord, one baptism,

one hope in our calling, one idea in relation to what we were, what we are,

and what we are going to be . . . . Like Moses' serpent, which swallowed up

all other serpents, Mormonism has banished all our preconceived notions of

religion, and has made us one . . . .

In political matters we are pretty well united. At our elections we

generally vote as a unit. This, we know, is contrary to the general custom,

and because we do not disagree and contend as in the world do, they

say that we are wrong. If we had intended to do as they do, we should not have

left them. We have long ago weighed them in the balance and found them

wanting. We have no desire to be affiliated with them; but in politics as in

[238] everything else we want to know the will of God, and then to do it . . .


Well, then, we are not concerned about what the nations of the world can

do against it, for they will crumble and totter, and thrones will be cast

down, as it is written in the Scriptures . . . . This is not our affair. They

are not our nations; they are not God's nations . . . . Our interest is not

bound up with them. They have nothing which we can sustain. In relation to all

these matters we feel perfectly easy. If war goes forth and desolates the

nations; if confusion exists among religious denominations, and if they should

continue to act as they are doing, like perfect fools, it is none of our

business . . . .

But what would you do if the United States were to being up an army

against you on account of polygamy, or on account of any other religious

subject? We would trust in God: as we always have done. Would you have no

fears? None. All the fears that I am troubled with is that this people will

not do rightthat they will not keep the commandments of God. If we will only

faithfully live our religion, we fear no earthly power. (8)

Leonora Cannon, Taylor's first wife, died of pneumonia 9 December

1868. She had endured much for the gospel, but he was certain that her

rewards would be great in the hereafter.

Going through her journals, Taylor was swept back over events of the

35 years which he had shared with her.

"I had gone through all but death during his absence," Leonora wrote

when he returned from his first mission to England.

Lived in an old barrack room twenty feet square, with one small window,

the back door off, the hinges and [239] walls so open that a skunk came in

every night. One winter twice I found a large snake in the room. Naturally

nervous and timid, my sleep nearly left me. Twice when my children were sick

and I had a light in the middle of the night, drunken Indians came to the door

and there quarreled, some to get in and others keeping them back, and I alone

with three small children.

I had many privations and many mercies. I never saw one of Mr. Taylor's

relatives in my house the two years he was away. I was a stranger in a strange

land, without a friend or relative near me. My Heavenly Father, who has ever

watched over me, did not forsake me in the day of my adversity, but inclined

the hearts of my neighbors to be kind to me, for which I give Him thanks . . .


Leonora was with Taylor in the exodus from Nauvoo, as they left in

midwinter for an unknown destination. On June 27, 1846, after arriving

at Council Bluffs, she wrote:

This day two years since poor Be. Joseph and Hyrum were murdered and

Father shot almost to death in Carthage Jail. Where shall we be, or how

situated, this time next year? The Lord only knows . . . .

July 6. We are now in the wilderness. Our property, which was worth ten

thousand dollars, is gone, all except the necessaries we have with us. We have

been obliged to sacrifice it to the mob. If the Lord will supply us with food

and raiment, I care nothing about what we have left.

Taylor smiled in memory of a scene at the time he prepared to leave

Winter Quarters for England.

July 29. Heard of Father's mission to England. Very stormy. Br. Pratt,

Hyde, Pierce and Little came to go with Father.

[240] July 30. Stormed dreadfully. Doc Richards and Br. Little slept in the

little tent. It blew down. The Doc got under the bed. The water found him

there. He and Br. Little walked about the camp with grandmother's old clothes

about them. It took a long time to gather up theirs again, all covered with


On September 31, with the husband gone, Leonora and her sister wives

went "over the river to gather grapes."

Camped all night. Then to Indian Village. Got some onions, potatoes,

apples. Box of raisins came from Father. I bought cakes and beer for the

girls. Drove to Council Point, took supper and remained all night. After

breakfast set off for the grapes. Found a great many. The cattle went off. I

went into the woods and prayed that they might be found. John

walked all day and could not find them. It was near sundown; he gave them up

and went to borrow a yoke of cattle to take the wagon to the Point. When he

was gone, I asked the girls to go with me into the woods to look for them. We

found them without any trouble. We returned with a barrel of grapes, a bag of

hops and very happy at having found the cattle. Got supper and went on about

four miles when it became dark. We lodged for the night on the prairie, when

John cut grass for the oxen. Next day we got our wheat and started home;

arrived there in the evening. Found all the children well, delighted to see us

again. Letter from Mr. Taylor. . . .

Memories . . . . Taylor treasured a passage in Leonora's journal

that summed up the sustaining faith which carried this gentle soul

through life's tribulations.

The Lord often led me by the way that I knew not, and in a path that I

naturally did not wish to go. Every sweet has its bitter. The way seemed to me

narrower every day. Without His almighty power to help me, I can[241]not

walk. Unto Whom shall I go, or look for succor, but unto Thee, my Father and

only Friend?

(1) JD 7:369 and 10:257.

(2) MS 2:16.

(3) Deseret News, 10 July 1861.

(4) JD 10:274, 25 October 1863.

(5) JD 11:87.

(6) JD 11:216, 339, and 353.

(7) Letters of October 1863 and July 1864.

(8) JD 11:216, 339, and 353.

[242] Chapter 15


"Taking it all in all," B. H. Roberts said of the TaylorColfax

debate, "this is doubtless the most important discussion in the history

of the Church." (1)

It began when U.S. VicePresident Schuyler Colfax visited Salt Lake

City in October, 1869, and made a rather unfriendly speech from the

portico of the Townsend House. John Taylor came to the defense of the

Saints through the nation's newspapers; Colfax replied in kind, and

Taylor again answered him.

"The great reputation of Mr. Colfax as a speaker and writer,"

Roberts said, "the fact that he had for many years been a member of

Congress and accustomed to debate, together with the high station he

occupied at the time of the discussion, gave to it a national importance.

It occurred, too, at a critical time in the history of the Church."


As I stand before you tonight, my thoughts go back to the first view I

ever had of Salt Lake City, four years ago last June. After traveling . . .

over arid plains and alkali valleys and barren mountains day after day, our

stage coach emerged from a canyon one morning and we looked down upon your

city, covering miles in its area, with its gardens, green with fruit trees and

shrubbery, and the Jordan flashing in the sun beyond . . . . I felt indeed

that you had a right to regard it as a Palmyra in the desert . . . .

[243] I am gratified, too, that our present visit occurred at the same time

with your Territorial Fair, enabling us to witness your advance in the various

branches of industry. I was specially interested in the hours I spent there

yesterday, with some of your leading citizens, in your cotton manufactures

from the cotton you raise in southern Utah, your woolen manufactures, the silk

manufactures you have recently inaugurated, your leather and harness, the

porcelain, which was new to me, your furniture, your paintings and pictures,

the fancy work of the ladies, and the fruits and vegetables which "tell their

own story of the fertility of your soil. I rejoice over every indication of

progress and selfreliance . . . .

I have enjoyed the opportunity, also, of visiting your Tabernacle, . . .

the largest building in which religious services are held on the continent,

and of listening to your organ, constructed here, which in its mammoth size,

its volume of sound, and sweetness of tone, would compare favorably with any

in the largest cities of the Union.

Nor did I feel any the less interest in listening to your leading men, .

. . as they expounded and defended their faith and practice . . . . I listened

attentively, respectfully and courteously, to what failed to convince my mind;

and you will doubtless hear me with equal patience while I tell you frankly

wherein we differ.

But first let me say that I have no strictures to utter as to your creed

on any really religious question. Our land is the land of civil and religious

liberty, and the faith of every man is a matter between himself and God

alone.... And this right I would defend for you with as much zeal as the right

of every other denomination throughout the land. But our country is governed

by law, and no assumed revelation justifies anyone in trampling on the law. If

it did, every wrongdoer would use that argument to protect himself in his

disobedience to it.

[244] The Constitution declares, in the most emphatic language, that that

instrument and the laws made in conformity thereto, shall be the supreme law

of the land. Whether liked or disliked, they bind the forty millions of people

who are subject to that supreme law. If anyone condemns them as

unconstitutional, the courts of the United States are open, before which they

can test the question. But, till they are decided to be in conflict with the

Constitution, they are binding upon you in Utah as they are on me in the

District of Columbia, or on the citizens of Idaho or Montana.

Let me refer now to the law of 1862, against which you especially

complain, and which you denounce Congress for enacting. It is obeyed in the

other Territories of the United States, or if disobeyed its violation is

punished. It is not obeyed here, and though you often speak of the

persecutions to which you were subject in the earlier years of your church,

you cannot but acknowledge that the conduct of the government and the people

of the United States towards you, in your later years, has been one of

toleration, which you could not have realized in any of the civilized nations

of the world.

I do not concede that the institution you have established here, and

which is condemned by the law, is a question of religion. But to you who do

claim it as such, I reply, that the law you denounce only reenacts the

original prohibitions of your own Book of Mormon on its 118th page, and your

Book of Doctrine and Covenants, in its chapter on marriage; and these are the

inspired records, as you claim them, on which your church is organized . . . .

The Book of Doctrine and Covenants in its chapter on marriage declares

that as the Mormon church has been charged with the crimes of fornication and

polygamy, it is avowed as the law of the church that a man shall have but one

wife, and a woman but one husband, till death shall part them.

[245] I know you claim that a subsequent revelation . . . gives you the right

to turn your back on your old faith and disobey the law; you would not

yourselves tolerate others in assuming, rights for themselves under

revelations they might claim to have received, or under religions they might

profess. The Hindoos claim, as part of their religion, the right, to burn

widows with the dead bodies of their husbands. If they were to attempt it

here, . . . you would prevent it . . . .

Colfax cited the regulation of saloons and boneboiling

establishments as examples of restraints for the common good.

I might use other illustrations, . . . but I have adduced sufficient to

justify Congress in an enactment they deemed wise for the whole people for

whom they legislated . . . .

One thing I must allude to, personal to myself. The papers have published

a discourse delivered last April by your highest ecclesiastical authority,

which stated that the President and VicePresident of the United States were

both gamblers and drunkards. (Voices in the crowd, "He did not say so.") I had

not heard before that it was denied; but I am glad to hear the denial now . .

. . I only wish to state publicly in this city . . . that it was utterly

untrue as to President Grant, and as to myself, that I have never gambled to

the value of a farthing, and have been a total abstainer all the years of my

manhood. However, I may differ on political questions, . . . no one has ever

truthfully assailed my character. I have valued a good character far more than

a political reputation or official honors, and wish to preserve it unspotted

while life shall last. (2)

In closing, Colfax made reference to the recent formation of ZCMI,

organized as a Mormon cooperative to boycott Gentile trade.

[246] A few more words and I must conclude. When our party visited you four

years ago, we all believed that . . . your city might become the great city of

the interior. But you must allow me to say that you do not seem to have

improved these opportunities as you might have done . . . . You should

encourage, and not discourage, competition in trade. You should welcome, and

not repel, investments from abroad. You should discourage every effort to

drive capital from your midst. You should rejoice at the opening of every new

store, or factory, or mechanic shop, by whomsoever conducted. You should seek

to widen the area of country dependent on your city for supplies. You should

realize that wealth will come to you only by development, by unfettered

competition, by increased capital.

Here I must close. I have spoken to you, face to face, frankly,

truthfully, fearlessly. I have said nothing but for your own good . . . .

John Taylor was in Boston at the time, together with Bishop, John

Sharp and Brigham Young's son, Joseph A., to settle construction

contracts with officials of the Union Pacific Railroad.

Taylor's reply to Colfax was published in the New York Tribune, and

widely reprinted throughout the nation.


American House, Boston, Mass.

October 20, 1869

. . . I have read with a great deal of interest the speech of the Hon.

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