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

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In no part of the world could we, as a people, have enjoyed the amount of

liberty and freedom from oppression that we enjoy here. This may seem strange

to the ears of those who have not reflected upon the subject; it is

nevertheless true. We talk sometimes of mob violence, of persecution, of

official and governmental corruption and [271] depravity. What of that? While

the constitution is acknowledged, it places the wrongdoer in the wrong,

condemns his practices and reveals the right; and whether mobs or Congress

violate it, they come under its reprehensions. In other nations, the laws

would be against us; in this, the Constitution and Constitutional laws sustain


Under a government just and equitable . . . this country flourished,

following the arts of industry and peace, as no nation ever did before. . . .

She prospered under the direction, the guidance and protection of the

Constitution. Well might Joseph Smith exclaim, "It was given by inspiration of

God." In such a condition, surrounded by so many blessings, what might have

been her destiny?

Had she still sought for and obtained the inspiration of the Almighty;

had she still progressed in virtue, integrity, honesty and wisdom; with the

riches, prestige and power of the earth and the blessings and aid of the

Almighty. . . kingdoms would have sought her protection, and nations her

alliance. Emperors would have bowed to her dictum and acknowledged her queen

of the world. Her conquests would have been the conquests of truth over error,

of light dispelling darkness, the conquests of virtue, integrity and honor.

She would have been the rising national sun, whose luminous beams would have

penetrated the political darkness of the nations, and from whose refulgent

rays new thoughts, new ideas, new principles and new actions would have

emanated . . . .

Instead of whichoh, how humiliating is the picture! she who might

have been queen of nations is now humbled in the dust and clothed in sackcloth

and ashes. Her young men have fallen in battle and her maidens mourn. Divided

and rent asunder by factions, military is taking the place of civil authority

and "children are her oppressors." Her wise men have departed, and there is no

one to point out the path of peace. The nations afar off point the finger of

scorn and say, "Is this your model nation, this your pattern of republican

government? . . ." While [272] she, torn, mangled, bleeding, palpitating and

helpless is dumb at the reproach.

In an evil hour she gave way. She forgot "the rock from whence she was

hewn and the pit from whence she was dug." She gloried in her own strength and

forgot the Lord her God. She abandoned the path of economy and industry, and

engaged in suicidal fraternal warfare; and while she was indulging in

riotousness and debauchery, in wantonness, fraud and corruption, exultingly

exclaiming, "Is not this great Babylon that I have built by the might of my

power," there was a handwriting upon the wall that made all knees tremble:

"Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting. . . ."

Oh, man! immortal man, made in the image of God, bearing the impress of

Jehovahwhen wilt thou fulfill the high destiny for which thou were ordained

by thy creator? When will folly, empty pride, passion, jealousy, rage and

revenge give way to wisdom, humility, virtue, integrity, kindness, mercy,

magnanimity, universal brotherhood, and a reverence of God and His law? . . .

Oh! how fully hast thou demonstrated, in this Eden of the earth, the

incompetency of man to govern without the inspiration of the Almighty . . . .

What shall I say of US? . . . As part of the common brotherhood of the

nation, we will perform the part of a good citizen; rally round the cause of

right; maintain inviolate the Constitution of the United States; seek to God

for wisdom in every emergency; . . . cleave to the truth. And if all men

forsake this great bulwark of human rights, let us rally around it, and save

it from pollution and destruction, and hand it down uncontaminated and

undefiled to our children and children's children. (1)

"The years from 1871 to 1875 are notable in the history of Utah for

the judicial reign of terror which prevailed," Roberts says. (2)

Carpetbaggers headed by Chief Justice James B. McKean arrogated [273]

authority to empanel "packed juries of pronounced antiMormons, chosen to

convict the Church leaders."

Brigham Young was arrested for "lewd and lascivious cohabitation;"

but this was only the first step in a scheme to convict the church

president of murder.

"Popular excitement ran high. For a time there was a threatened

collision between the court and the people. It was at this juncture that

Elder Taylor published five letters in the Deseret News, reviewing the


Why is it that the mercantile, commercial and mineral interests of this

Territory must be jeopardized or ruined by the machinations of a few strangers

sent here among us, having no sympathies with the people or in the interests

and prosperity of the Territory? Why is it that the liberties of our most

esteemed citizens are attacked and their characters assailed under the guise

of law? Why this palpable attempt to stir up sedition, provoke strife, and, is

it too much to say, to inaugurate a scene of desolation and bloodshed?

I have asked myself: Are governments organized to oppress and enslave

their subjects? Are courts instituted to insult, outrage, abuse, and tyrannize

over the people and legislate them out of the last remnants of their rights?

If not, why are we subject to this living insult, this crying disgrace, this

burning shame, this foetid excrescence of the body politic? . . .

I speak in behalf not only of the Mormon community, but, I am assured, of

threefourths of the respectable Gentile citizens of this Territory, who feel

themselves injured and their property and prospects jeopardized by these

wanton extrajudicial acts. For it is evident to all, [274] that except this

crusade is stopped, financial ruin must inevitably ensue.

These questions . . . have been solved by the very extraordinary and

lucid opinion of his honor Chief Justice J. B. McKean, delivered October 13,

1871, at the United States courtroom . . . . I quote: "It is therefore proper

to say, that while the case at the bar is called The People vs. Brigham Young,

its other and real title is FEDERAL AUTHORITY versus POLYGAMIC THEOCRACY."

This certainly elucidates the subject and throws light upon actions that

heretofore were not only enigmatical, but inexplicable. We have been pursuing

the even tenor of our way. . . . progressing in agricultural, commercial and

mineral enterprises, in machinery, manufactures and railroads, . . . until

these birds of evil omen. arrived, who. . . like the deadly simoon are

parching, withering, paralyzing, blasting and destroying everything within

their reach.

We now have a reason given for this . . . crusade against the liberties

of the citizens of this Territory; . . . this prosecution, persecution and

infamy that have disgraced our courts for some years past. There has been an

undercurrent that was extremely difficult to comprehend. . . . His honor Judge

McKean, however, has dispelled the mist in which it was shrouded, and has

plainly given us to understand that it is . . . the United States against the

Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints . . . .

They have tried by every possible means to make themselves odious to the

peopleand it must be acknowledged that they have succeeded admirably, for

never were a set of men more thoroughly despised anywhere in these United

States. By the unprecedented method of procuring juries, the ignoring of

Territorial law and Territorial courts and officers, and other outrages, they

have evidently been trying to provoke seditions, that a good pretext could be

had for calling out troops, that the fires of war might be kindled. . . .

[275] But the people would not revolt, and the more they were incensed and

goaded to it, the more they would not do it. The authorities, like the men who

desired someone to kick him, could not get kicked . . . . At last, when

everything else failed, as a dernier resort they tried it on our

Presidency, feeling confident that this would goad us to desperation, and they

telegraphed for troops beforehand. (3) But even this did not go off. So,

puzzled, perplexed, annoyed and baffled in their great aim, his honor the

Judge comes plainly out, makes a clean breast of it, and tells us that

everything else has been strategy, a feint, a ruse, but that war upon the

Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints was the object which he had in


Many leading newspapers agreed with Taylor's charge that the

UtahWashington coterie were guilty of an antiMormon conspiracy. The

Omaha Herald minced no words:

This conspiracy began with the advent of the existing herd of federal

mercenaries to Utah. It crystalized under the agitation of the Cullom Bill,

which was drawn in Salt Lake. (4) The object was to break down the political

power of the people who had conquered Utah from a desert waste into a

beautiful garden. This was necessary to enable these malignants to occupy,

possess and control it. With the fall of Mormon power, McKean, Woods & Co.

were to bring Utah into the Union as a state, and become senators of the

United States, and heroes in a land already suffering from a surfeit of such.


The Cullom Bill failed . Farfetched edicts of the law,

promulgated through stump speeches from the bench, likewise failed. The

scepter, not yet grasped, was departing. Something must be done. Criminal

statutes must be invoked. Proofs of crimes other than that of polygamy must be

secured. But before this is permitted, in pursuance of a deliberate plan,

decisions must be [276] promulgated whereby, under a thin disguise, Mormons,

on account of their religious beliefs and practices, must be excluded from

juries which would be thus necessarily constituted of their deadliest

enemiesmen who would do the known wish, if they did not obey the actual

behest, of their desperate masters. And this is but a brief outline of a

conspiracy which aims, at whatever cost, to destroy men and institutions in a

territory whose civilizing and industrial achievements are the admiration of

mankind. (6)

"The whole thing is instigated by a `ring' of . . . smallfry,

popinjay politicians, and wouldbe statesmen," the San Francisco Examiner

charged, who "know full well that they will have no show for promotion

until the Mormon power is broken."

Hence it is that they seek to create a civil war by means of packed

juries, unprincipled judges and perjured witnesses. Of course, if they

determine that no Mormon shall sit on a jury to try Young . . . he will

necessarily be convicted . . . . If they can send Brigham to prison, and

induce the people to rise up and liberate him, and thus produce a conflict,

Utah will be at once admitted as a state, and under the protection of federal

bayonets these mischiefmakers can have themselves elected senators,

congressmen, etc., just as the thieving carpetbaggers did at the south. The

whole affair is a disgrace to the American name. That a vile, little clique of

corrupt politicians should be permitted to use the power of the government to

embroil a peaceable community in civil strife, to gratify their personal greed

for place and plunder is an outrage upon decency, humanity, and justice. (7)

Such was the enemy and such the aims which Taylor denounced:

We are informed by his honor that "a system is on trial in the person of

Brigham Young; let all concerned [277] keep this fact steadily in view." Now,

as . . . it is not . . . a system of political rule, it must therefore and can

only be a religious system which is on trial in the person of Brigham Young. .

. . His honor gives us to understand that he has been accused of one thing and

is being tried for another, and furthermore he is already prejudged of guilt.

. . .

I would not treat his honor discourteously, but quote the language of the

Washington Capitol, that "it is our judiciary, and not polygamy, that is being

tried, and sorely tried . . . . Thoughtful minds will concur in expressing the

belief that we procure its annihilation at heavy cost when we destroy our

courts and fetch justice into such contempt . . . ."

In the above it has been shown that when these gentlemen came here, they

found us in a very happy, orderly, and prosperous condition; that, with or

without the knowledge of the administration, they have been conspiring against

the liberties of the people; that . . . they have made a violent attack upon

our religion; that they have repudiated and trampled underfoot our laws and

ignored our courts organized by Congressional enactment; that they have

arraigned our citizens for one thing and are trying them for another; that

they have obtained juries in a manner unknown to the Territorial laws,

prejudged cases, and acted as the most violent, vicious, and malignant

partisans, and by their acts have sought to provoke anarchy and revolt.

I would not be discourteous to our Federal officers;... but as public men

their acts must be scrutinized, and when the liberties of the people are

tampered with . . . it is time that the people look after their own interests

and not suffer themselves to be despoiled of moral, social, judicial,

religious and constitutional rights without a remonstrance. . . .

It must be remembered that while the court has persons at the bar, the

court itself is at the bar of public [278] opinion; for it is a fact that

judges are as amenable to law as are other citizens of the United States, and

to all men of reflection it is becoming a serious question how far Federal

authority shall be permitted to lend itself to factionists and party and

political cabals; how far it shall be permitted to interfere with private,

social, political and religious rights; and whether, under the name and guise

of Republicanism, we are not breaking down the safeguards and bulwarks of

society and rushing thoughtlessly and recklessly to the worst kind of anarchy

and despotism. (8)

"There has been from time immemorial a continual struggle between

the governors and the governed," Taylor said in his second letter, "the

first trying to usurp power, authority and dominion, and the other to

resist these encroachments."

Where integrity, virtue, and honesty have prevailed, whether under

monarchial or republican rule, there have existed happiness and freedom. Where

these have been lacking, disorder, anarchy, bondage and confusion have been

the result. Liberty is not a name but a reality.

In Republican France, under Napoleon, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" was

written over the entrance to every public edifice, while twenty persons could

not meet together in a private house without the permission of the police, and

private papers could be examined by the same authority. At the same time in

monarchial England, you needed no passport, your house was your castle, and

your papers and property were safe. In monarchial England all men can worship

God according to the dictates of their own consciences and be justified in

that right. In republican America, thousands of her citizens have time and

again been robbed, murdered, pillaged, driven and exiled for their religion


This same England centuries ago proscribed, persecuted and exiled her

citizens for the same offense, and [279] her Puritans had to flee to Holland,

and to the then wilds of America, to secure themselves from the fury of their

oppressors. And yet, strange as it is, those very Puritans persecuted the

Quakers and Baptists for believing in and worshiping God.

Freedom, justice and liberty are not therefore the growth of republican

institutions alone. Freedom and liberty are the gifts of God, and are

frequently wrenched unwillingly from the hands of tyrants. Tyranny, under, any

guise, is a hideous monster. Dressed in the trappings of royalty or the plain

garb of republicanism, it is still a monster. . . . Tyranny is the same,

whether in the dictator, . . . the general, the judge or the preacher.

The very honorable, venerable and patriotic gentle men who framed our

Declaration of Independence had many of the above facts in view, and, smarting

under the lash of British tyranny, entered their vehement protest,... as in

living letters of fire "All men are created equal, that

they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among

these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these

rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from

the consent of the governed."

The honorable framers of the Constitution of the United States were no

less alive to these matters, and while they threw safeguards around the civil

power, were very anxious to protect the people in their individual, social,

religious and political rights. And lest their ideas should be misunderstood,

they made several amendments directly intended to protect the rights of the


We have never had any difficulty with lawabiding citizens, with lovers

of good order, with patriots and honest men. And the bigoted and fanatical

attacks against this people have been instituted against private interests,

constitutional guarantees, religion and the rights of man....

[280] There are certain inalienable rights possessed by man; . . . and that as

every individual possesses the right to breathe, and to have the blood

circulate, so every individual in every community in all the world inherits

this inestimable, Godgiven right ; and like the breath or blood,

he carries it with him wherever he goes, and no person, no potentate, prince

or president, no legislature, no government, no tribunal or court can

legitimately dispossess him of this right. It is inherited from God and must

not be interfered with by man.

As every interference with or stoppage of the blood or breath in the

natural body produces distress, disorder and convulsions in the system, so

every interference with this inherent right of man produces convulsions in the

body politic; and the unnatural attempts of kings, emperors, presidents,

legislatures, judges, governors or autocrats to interfere with this sacred,

eternal, Godgiven right, have been productive of all the oppressions,

bloodshed, injustice, war, carnage and desolation, the tears, groans and

misery with which the world has been cursed. . . .

It is alleged "that all nations have the elements of destruction within

themselves;" and this, in fact, is the principal element of destruction that

is found among all nations; for, so far as they interfere with this inherent

Godgiven right, they open the floodgates of error; and injustice, tyranny,

oppression and corruption follow in its train; anarchy, confusion and revolt

ensue; and weakness and desolation are the result . . . .

Our fathers discovered that all governments derive their just power from

the consent of the governed. It has been well said by an eminent author, that

"all delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. A

constitution is not the act of government, but of a people constituting a

government." Assuming the above hypothesis to be rightand no man can

successfully dispute itwhat becomes of the action of our Federal officers? .

. . There is said to be a hundred thousand inhabitants in this Territory. How

many of them had a voice in the selection of the present Federal officers? Not

[281] one. There is a grand jury here. Out of one hundred thousand Mormons,

how many of them sat on this grand jury? Not one . . . .

Liberty does not consist in the clanging of bells, the sound of trumpets,

the beat of drums, the rearing of tall liberty poles, in the parade, the pomp,

the glitter and show, nor in the declamation of demagogues nor the sanctity of

courts, . . . but in the preserving of these rights to the people, and

preserving intact as the living inheritance of man. Every man that

sustains these principles is the friend of freedom and humanity, and every one

who opposes them, whether among autocrats, monarchies, or, republics, is a

disturber of the peace, a sower of discord, an enemy of mankind and of God.


In Taylor's third letter he analyzed Constitutional law. "The

principles of universal liberty," he said, "are, in fact, the leading

prominent features of the Kingdom of God."

For when God's will "shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven," the

shackles will be knocked from every son and daughter of Adam; there will be

proclaimed a universal jubilee, and all mankind will be free, every wrong will

be suppressed, and every right maintained. . . . Then these heavenborn

principles announced at the birth of Jesus, "Peace on earth and good will to

men," shall be proclaimed to every nation . . . . Then all hearts shall be

made glad, the voice of mourning and sorrow banished from the earth. . . .

This is what the United States are trying to inaugurate. Judge McKean

says it is a system that is on trial. He does not know it, but the above is

the systemwhat he is pleased to call "Polygamic Theocracy," against which he

says Federal authority is arrayed;or, in other words, the United States

versus popular sovereignity, the inalienable rights of man, universal freedom,

the reign of peace, the kingdom of God.


Taylor pointed out that while the Constitution was an inspired

document, it contained a basic flaw. Its framers "were not legislating

for the world, nor forming compacts for any other people than their own.

They did not even prohibit slavery. Their compact was simply with the

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