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



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Schuyler Colfax, . . . as reported in the Springfield Republican. . . .

Mr. Colfax remarks: "I have no stricture to offer as to your creeds on

any really religious question . . . . But our country is governed by law and

no assumed revelation [247] justifies anyone in trampling on the law." At

first sight this reasoning is very plausible; . . . but with all due deference

permit me to examine these words and their import.

That our country is governed by law we all admit; but when it is said

that "no assumed revelation justifies anyone in trampling on the law," I

should respectfully ask, What? not if it interferes with my religious faith,

which you state "is a matter between God and myself alone?" Allow me, sir,

here to state that the assumed revelation referred to is one of the most vital




parts of our religious faith; it emanated from God and cannot be legislated

away. It is part of the "Everlasting Covenant" which God has given to man. Our

marriages are solemnized by proper authority; a woman is sealed unto a man for

time and for eternity, by the power of which Jesus speaks, which "seals on

earth as it is sealed in heaven." With us it is "Celestial marriage." Take

that from us and you rob us of our hopes and associations in the resurrection

of the just.

This is not religion? You do not see things as we do. You marry for time

only, "until death does you part." We have eternal covenants, eternal unions,

eternal associations. . . . I make these remarks to show that it is

considered, by us, a part of our religious faith, which I have no doubtdid

you understand it as we doyou would defend, as you state, "with as much zeal

as the right of every other denomination throughout the land."

Permit me here to say, however, that it was the revelation (I will not

say assumed) that Joseph and Mary had, which made them look upon Jesus as the

Messiah; which made them flee from the wrath of Herod, who was seeking the

young child's life. This they did in contravention of the law, which was his

decree. Did they do wrong in protecting Jesus from the law? But Herod was a

tyrant. That makes no difference. It was the law of the land, and I have yet

to learn the difference between a tyrannical king and a tyrannical Congress .

. . . Now, I am [248] not sufficiently versed in metaphysics to discover the

difference in its effects between the asp of Cleopatra, the dagger of Brutus,

the chalice of Lucretia Borgia, or the bullet or sabre of an American soldier

. . . .


Whose rights have we interfered with? Whose property have we taken? Whose

religious or political faith or rights have been curtailed by us? None . . . .

I wish we could say the same of others. I hope we shall not be condemned for

crimes we are expected to commit. It will be time enough to atone for them

when done.

We do acknowledge having lately started cooperative stores. Is this

anything new in England, Germany, France or the United States? We think we

have a right, as well as others, to buy or sell of, and to whom, we please. We

do not interfere with others in selling, if they can get customers. We have

commenced to deal with our friends....

But permit me here to return to the religious part of our investigations;

for if our doctrines are religious, then it is confessed that Congress has no

jurisdiction in this case and the argument is at an end. . . . I do not think

that Mr. Colfax had carefully digested the subject when he said, "I do not

concede that the institution you have established here, and which is condemned

by law, is a question of religion."




Are we to understand by this that Mr. Colfax is created an umpire to

decide upon what is religion and what is not, upon what is true religion and

what is false? If so, by whom and what authority is he created judge?...

According to this theory, no persons ever were persecuted for their

religion . . . . Could anyone suppose that that erudite, venerable, and

profoundly learned body of menthe great Sanhedrin of the Jewsor that those

holy men, the chief priests, scribes and pharisees, would persecute anybody

for religion? Jesus was put to death, not for his religion, but because he was

a blasphemer;... [249] because he, being a carpenter's son, and known among

them as such, declared himself the Son of God. So they said, and they were the

then judges. Could anyone be more horrified than those Jews at such

pretensions? His disciples were persecuted, proscribed and put to death, not

for their religion but because they "were pestilent fellows and stirrers up of

sedition," and because they believed in an "assumed revelation" concerning

"one Jesus, who was put to death, and who, they said, had risen again." It.

was for false pretensions and lack of religion that they were persecuted.

Their religion was not like that of the Jews; ours, not like that of Mr.

Colfax.

Loyola did not invent and put into use the faggot, the flame, the sword,



the thumbscrews, the rack and ribbet to persecute anybody; it was to purify

the Church of heretics, as others would purify Utah . . . . The nonconformists

of England and Holland, the Hugenots of France and the Scottish

noncovenanters were not persecuted or put to death for their religion; it was

for being schismatics, turbulent and unbelievers.

Talk of religion, what horrid things have not been perpetrated in its

name! All of the above claimed that they were persecuted for their religion.

All of the persecutors, as Mr. Colfax said about us, did "not concede that the

institution they had established, which was condemned by the law, was

religious . . . ."

You say we complain of persecution. Have we not cause to do it? Can we

call our treatment by a milder term? Was it benevolence that robbed, pillaged

and drove thousands of men, women and children from Missouri? Was it Christian

philanthropy that, after mobbing, plundering and ravaging a whole community,

drove them from Illinois into the wilderness among savages? . . . Of course we

did not suffer. "Religious fanatics" cannot feel. Like the eels the fishwoman

was skinning, "we have got used to it. . . ."

Is it wrong to call this persecution? We have learned to our cost that

"the king can do no wrong." Excuse me, [250] sir, if I speak warmly. This

people have labored under accumulated wrongs for upwards of thirty years past,




still unacknowledged and unredressed . . . .

Let me inquire into the law itself, enacted in 1862. The revelation on

polygamy was given in 1843, nineteen years before the passage of the

Congressional act. . . . (3) Now, who does not know that the law of 1862 in

relation to polygamy was passed on purpose to interfere with our religious

faith? . . . This law, in its inception, progress and passage, was intended to

bring us into collision with the United States, that a pretext might be found

for our ruin. These are facts that no honest man will controvert . . . .

But we are graciously told that we have our appeal. True, we have an

appeal. So had the Hebrew mothers to Pharaoh; so had Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar;

so had Jesus to Herod; so had Caesar to Brutus; so had those sufferers on the

rack to Loyola; so had the Waldenses and the Albigenses to the Pope; so had

the Quakers and Baptists of New England to the Puritans . . . .

But these things were done in barbarous ages. Do not let us, then, who

boast of our civilization, follow their examples; let us be more just, more

generous, more forbearing, more magnanimous. We are told that we are living in

a more enlightened age. Our morals are more pure (?), our ideas more refined

and enlarged, our institutions more liberal. "Ours," says Mr. Colfax, "is a

land of civil and religious liberty, and the faith of every man is a matter

between himself and God alone"providing God don't shock our moral ideas by

introducing something that we don't believe in. If He does, let Him look out.

We won't persecutevery far be that from usbut we will make

platforms, pass Congressional laws and make you submit to them. We may, it is

true, have to send out an army, and shed the blood of many; but what of that?

It is so much more pleasant to be proscribed and killed according to the laws

of the Great Republic, in the "asylum of the oppressed," than to perish

ignobly by the [251] decree of kings, through their miserable minions, in the

barbaric ages . . . .

Let me ask here respectfully with all sincerity: is there not plenty of

scope for the action of government at home? What of your gambling halls? What

of your gold rings, your whiskey rings, your railroad rings, manipulated

through the lobby into your Congressional rings? What of that great moral

curse of the land, that great institution of monogamyprostitution? What of

its twin sisterinfanticide? I speak to you as a friend. Know ye not that

these seething infamies are corrupting and destroying your people? and that

like the plague they are permeating your whole social system? that from your

gilded palaces to your most filthy purlieus, they are festering and stewing

and rotting? What of the thirty thousand prostitutes of New York City and the

proportionate numbers in other cities, towns and villages, and their

multitudinous pimps and paramours, who are, of course, allallhonorable

men! Here is ample room for the Christian, the philanthropist, and the


statesman. Would it not be. Well to cleanse your own Augean stables?

This "bonehouse," this "powder magazine," is not in Salt Lake City, a

thousand miles from your frontier. It is in your own cities and towns,

villages and homes. It carouses in your secret chambers, and flaunts in the

public highways; it meets you in every corner, and besets you in every

condition. Your infirmaries and hospitals are reeking with it; your sons and

daughters, your wives and husbands, are degraded by it. . . .

Ye American Statesmen, will you allow this demon to run riot in the land,

and while you are speculating about a little political capital to be made out

of Utah, allow your nation to be destroyed? . . . We can teach you a lesson on

this matter, polygamists as we are. You acknowledge one wife and her children;

what of your other associations unacknowledged? We acknowledge and maintain

all our wives and all of our children . . . . We have no gambling halls, no

drunkenness, no infanticide, no houses of [252] assignation, no prostitutes.

Our wives are not afraid of our intrigues and debauchery; nor are our wives

and daughters corrupted by designing and unprincipled villians. We believe in

the chastity and virtue of women, and maintain them. There is not, today, in

the wide world a place where female honor, virtue and chastity are so well

protected as in Utah . . . .

You may say it is not against your purity that we contend, but against

polygamy, which we consider a crying evil. Be it so, why then, if your system

is so much better, does it not bring forth better fruits? . . . Is it too much

to say, "Take the beam out of thine own eye and then shalt thou see clearly to

remove the mote that is in thy brother's?"

Colfax spent six weeks preparing a reply. When it appeared in the

New York Independent, the grasp of Mormon history and doctrine indicated

that the VicePresident had written it with apostate help. A dissident

group of intellectuals, the Godbeites, had recently separated from the

church, and some of them were known to have had the ear of Colfax.

Perhaps Edward Tullidge or Taylor's former associate on The Mormon,

T.B.H. Stenhouse, had helped in writing the VicePresident's article.

RESPONSE FROM COLFAX

The demands of the people of Utah Territory for immediate admission into

the Union as a State . . . compels the nation to meet face to face a question

it has apparently endeavored to ignore . . . . The discussion of this question

. . . will embrace in its scope the present condition of that people, and

whether Congress owes any duty whatever to its insulted laws, to the officers

charged with their execution and to the lawabiding people

resident within the limits of the Territory.


[253] The remarkable conversation between Brigham Young and Senator Trumbull

must still be fresh in the popular mind. In it the former person threatened,

if the officers of the United States acted objectionably to him, he would

eject them from the Territory. (4) And the recent expulsion of prominent

members of his church for doubting his infallibility, proves

that he regards his power as equal to any emergency, and has a will equal to

his power.

I propose in this article to examine, in the light of history, some

phases of the Mormon question, treating of those especially which are the

favorite themes of the Mormon leaders.

I. Their Fertilizing the Desert.

For this they claim great credit; and I would not detract one iota from

all they are legitimately entitled to. It was a desert when they first

emigrated thither. They have made large portions of it fruitful and

productive, and their chief city is beautiful in location and attractive in

its gardens and shrubbery. But the solution of it all is in one wordWATER.

What seemed to the eye a desert became fruitful when irrigated; and the

mountains whose crests are clothed in perpetual snow furnished, in unfailing

supplies of their ravines, the necessary fertilizer . . . .

II. Their Persecutions.

This also is one of their favorite themes. Constantly it is reiterated .

. . . They have been driven from place to place, they claim, solely on account

of their religious belief. . . . My object, by this historical retrospect, is

to show that they were not driven from any region on account of hostility to

their religion, as they so persistently assert . . . .

Their first removal was in 1831, to Kirtland, Ohio, which they declared

was revealed to them as the site of the New Jerusalem. . . . A bank was

established there by [254] them; large quantities of bills of doubtful value

issued; and, growing out of charges of fraudulent dealing, Smith and Rigdon

were tarred and feathered in 1832 . . . .

In January 1838, the bank failed; and, to avoid arrest for fraud, the

leaders fled in the night to Missouri. Their followers joined them there, and

were soon accused by the people of "plundering and burning habitations, and of

secret assassinations." Nor do these charges against them rest on the

testimony of those who had not been of their own faith. In October 1838, T. B.

Marsh, exPresident of the Twelve Apostles, and Orson Hyde, one of the

Apostles, made affidavits in which Marsh swore, and Hyde corroborated it




. . . . (5)

The governor of Missouri gives the reasons for their expulsion as follows:

"These people had violated the laws of the land, by open and armed

resistance to them; they had instituted among themselves a government of their

own, independent of, and in opposition to, the Government of this State; they

had, at an inclement season of the year, driven the inhabitants of an entire

county from their homes, ravaged their crops and destroyed their dwellings."

There is nothing as to their religion here . . . .

In Nauvoo they remained until 1846. The disturbance which finally caused

them to leave that city was not in consequence of their religious creed.

Foster and Law . . . renounced the faith and established an antiMormon paper

at Nauvoo, called the Expositor. In May 1844, the prophet and a party of his

followers . . . attacked the office, tore it down, and destroyed the presses.

The proprietors fled for their lives to Carthage, the county seat, and

obtained warrants for Joseph and Hyrum Smith . . . were taken to the

county jail at Carthage. . . . murdered the prisoners. It was

murder, and nothing else,... but the origin of this tragedy can be traced

directly to [255] the illegal mobbing of a free press for daring to publicly

denounce Mormonism and its practices . . . .

I may briefly . . . trace the history of their collisions in their

present region with the general government. In September 1850, President

Fillmore appointed Brigham Young . . . as Governor. The next year the Federal

Judges were compelled by Brigham Young's threats of violence to flee from the

Territory, and the laws of the United States were openly defied . . . . Most

of the civil officers of the Territory . . . were harassed and threatened as

their predecessors had been. In February 1857, a mob of armed Mormons,

instigated by sermons from the heads of the Church, broke into the United

States Courtroom, and at the point of the bowieknife compelled Judge Drummond

to adjourn his court sinedie; and very soon all of the United States

officers, except the Indian agent, were compelled to flee from the Territory.

President Buchanan now determined to supersede Brigham Young as Governor,

effectually. In 1857 he appointed Alfred Cumming Governor, and Judge Eckles,

of Indiana, Chief Justice, and sent them to Utah, with a force of 2,500

soldiers to protect them and to compel obedience to the law. Brigham Young

issued a proclamation denouncing the army as a mob, forbidding it to enter the

Territory, and calling the people to arms to repel its advance. They fortified

Echo Canyon, . . . and a party of mounted Mormons commenced the war by

attacking and destroying several of the supply trains, and cutting off from

the rear of the army . . . 800 United States oxen..,.. In the spring of 1858 .


. . the troops encamped forty miles from the city and remained there till

1860, when they were withdrawn.

This sketch is not colored by any views of my own. I have simply drawn it

from history, nothing extenuating nor setting down aught in malice. But the

reader will fail to find in it any of what they call their "persecutions"

sprang from their peculiar religious faith.

[256]

III. Their Polygamy.



In their Mormon Bible . . . polygamy is denounced as the wickedest of

crimes . . . . I need not repeat the argument of the Josephites (the

antipolygamy Mormons) that, if God did declare polygamy abominable . . . he

could not possibly make a revelation afterwards commanding it. Suffice to say,

the Mormons claim that he did; . . . and on that assumed revelation of 1843

they justify its practice, and their defiance of the law of the United States

. . . .

I propose to inquire whether a revelation of this kind vindicates them in



defying the law of the United States upon the subject.

Colfax spent considerable time quibbling, about John Taylor's answer

to his speech at the Townsend House, repeating that "threats and abuse"

awaited those "daring to speak against polygamy" in Utah, and that "Godbe

and others were expelled from the church for doubting the infallibility

of Brigham Young." Colfax also dealt at length with the British

extirpation of the Suttee in Indiathe burning of widowsdespite "the

Brahmins denouncing it with great violence (as the Mormons denounce our

antipolygamy law of 1862) as an `interference with their religion.'"

I come now to another one of Apostle Taylor's arguments, a favorite and

daily argument with all Mormon preachers: "Let us here," he says,

"respectfully ask, is there not plenty of scope for the action of the

government at home? . . . What of that great moral curse of the landthat

great institution of monogamyprostitution? What of its twinsister,

infanticide? We can teach you a lesson, polygamists as we are . . . ."

[257] I prefer to meet this argument on the main point squarely. The "Great

moral curse of the land," as he calls it, is . . . everywhere banned by the

law, banned by public opinion, banned by religion, banned by morality; and

exists, where it does exist, in defiance of all; while the great bulk, the

overwhelming proportion of the people, live faithful, as our first parents

did, one husband with one wife . . . .


In Utah, "religion" teaches them that a man may take as one of his wives

his half sister, the offspring of his own mother. "Religion" tells them that

it is right and fitting that the daughters of his own brothers and sisters may

be made the mothers of his children. "Religion" assures them that a man may

take a mother and all her daughters into the sacred companionship of wifehood

together. . . . Need I pursue the argument further? . . .

IV. Is Utah Within the United States?

Here only, in the whole civilized world, are practices like those I have

referred to tolerated. Here only, in the nation, are the laws of the United

States openly ignored and defied. Here only, from ocean to ocean, dare any man

proclaim that, as he has done before, he will drive out the officers of the

Republic if they perform their duties objectionably to him . . . . The Mormons

claim the benefit of every law they see fit to approvehomestead,

naturalization, protection of property by courts and Government, legislative

and judicial offices in their Territory, etc.and trample underfoot such

other laws of the Government . . . as they see fit to reject. It is time to

understand whether the authority of the nation or the authority of Brigham

Young is the supreme power in Utah; whether the laws of the United States or

the laws of the Mormon Church have precedence within its limits . . . .

"To this second production," Roberts said of the Colfax article,

"Elder Taylor made an elaborate and masterly reply that was quite as

extensively published in the [258] east as was the VicePresident's

article. He followed his opponent through all his meanderings in dealing

with the Mormon question; he corrected his errors, reproved his blunders,

answered his arguments, laughed at his folly."

RESPONSE FROM TAYLOR

I am sure will excuse me for standing up in defense of what

I know to be a traduced and injured people. I would not accuse the gentleman

of misrepresentation. I cannot help knowing, however, that he is misinformed .

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