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

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and concluded:

The Federals can make their own special appointments; manipulate or veto

all laws; serve processes by their own officers; . . . select and pack their

own juries; try before their own judges; prosecute them by their

own attorneys; put them in their own military jails; and then refuse them any

redress or writ of habeas corpus except through these very men who have thus

condemned them . . . .

The crowning example of repression, Taylor said, was that such

legislation made it impossible to seek justice in a court of appeal.

[306] But you can appeal to the United States Supreme Court? Not if they can

help it. These same creatures are to point out the way. The road leads through

them. If they shut it, who can open it? The crowning infamy of these bills is

to place the people under foreign rule, and then prevent an appeal, for no

appeal can be had to the Supreme Court of the United States if these bills

pass. The whole Territory is placed at the mercy of four or five men,

strangers and enemies.

A century ago, our seniors and fathers, in their Declaration of

Independence, . . . declared to this nation and the world that governments

"derive their JUST POWERS from the consent of the governed . . . ." Do you

wish to throw in the teeth of your venerable seniors and ancestry that they

labored under a delusion, that they were in errorin plain words that they

lied? On the other hand, do you wish to pronounce, to the world that your

government is "unjust?" Gentlemen, take which horn of the dilemma you please.

You have, so far as you have goneand not Iwritten your own record; you are

inditing your own history.

With all the reverence and respect due to the rulers of a mighty nation,

from the tops of these distant mountains I call upon you to pause in your

career. . . . I plead with you in behalf of our common humanity and the rights

of man, to reflect. Would you, to gratify a morbid sentimentality, desecrate

and tear down one of the most magnificent temples of human liberty ever

erected? Would you wantonly deliver up the sacred principles of liberty,

equity and justice, bequeathed by your fathers, to the grim Moloch of party,

who is crushing, grinding and trampling underfoot our Godgiven rights, and

whose sanguinary jaws are extended to gorge and devour the quivering remnants

of our feeble expiring liberty?

Have we not had more than enough of trouble already? Can we never be

satisfied? "Let us have peace." (3)


In his third letter, Taylor brought his heavy guns to bear against

the provision in the Logan Bill providing that "the common law of

England. . . is hereby extended over and declared to be in force in the

Territory of Utah."

"What is this common law?" Taylor asked, pointing out its enormous

and complex bulk, reaching back through centuries of kings and

commonwealth, under various dynasties, and passing "from Paganism to

Catholicism, from Catholicism to Protestantism, and back again." To

emphasize the absurdity of applying it to Utah, he quoted portions of the

English common law:

The first is selected under Catholic rule. An act of Parliament. . .

provides, "That the Diocesan, alone, without the intervention of the Synod,

might convict of heretical tenets; and. . . commit the unhappy victim to the

flames, without waiting for the consent of the crown."

Second, under Protestant rule: "Nonconformists . . . such as absent

themselves from divine worship in the established church . . . forfeit one

shilling to the poor every Lord's day they so absent themselves, and 20 pounds

to the king if they continue such default for a month together; and if they

keep any inmate thus irreligiously disposed in their houses, they forfeit 10

pounds per month."

With regard to papists, "They can hold no office or employment. . . ."

"They may not come within ten miles of London on pain of 100 pounds." "They

are not permitted to travel above five miles from home, unless by license,

upon pain of forfeiting all their goods; and they may not come into court

under pain of forfeiting 100 pounds." "And where these errors are also

aggravated by apostacy or perversion. . . . the offence amounts to high

treason; . . . and if they do not depart, or if they return without the [308]

king's license, they shall be guilty of felony and suffer death.

Need I mention here the trial by battle, by fire and water; the walking

over red hot iron bars and dipping the arms in boiling water; all of which

processes were enacted by law and used by the judiciary to prove the innocence

or guilt of parties, or to decide the rights of property?

It may be said that this section provides "That the

common law of England in force in the Colonies of America at the date of the

Declaration of Independence" is intended. True; but then, under the law, these

same colonies banished Baptists and Quakers, and placed them under the

penalties of death if they returned; and they found a way to take the lives of

persons accused of witchcraft, by burning and drowning.

But we are more enlightened now. Are we? Read: "A trial that will be

watched with great interest by henpecked husbands is soon to take place at

Baltimore. A woman of that city has been arrested on the charge of being a

common scold. The laws of Maryland make no provision for the punishment of

such an offence, and she is to be tried under the old English common law. This

defines such an offence as common barratry, and provides as one of the means

of punishment, `boring a hole through the tongue.'" (Ogden Junction, Feb. 15,


Blackstone tells us that they practiced the ducking of scolds in water.

It is hardly supposable that in Baltimore they will do this boring or ducking;

but give his honor Judge McKean the common law, . . . and it would not be any

more difficult to convict of treason or felony, or

death, than it was for the Catholics to fine, banish and destroy the

Protestants; . . . or the Protestants, in their rule, the Catholics. Both in

their turn were heretics, as we are today . . . .

[309] I tell you frankly, gentlemen, . . . you possess no right to place

American citizens under foreign law. Does the Congress of the United States of

America proclaim itself incompetent to make laws for its own citizens? Does it

wish to be understood . . . that it is necessary to invoke the aid of

monarchs, despots and tyrants? . . . Do we require the Doge of Venice, with

its horrible Council of Ten and its necessary "Bridge of Sighs?" Shall we have

need for the Inquisition with its accompanying tortures? Do we require the

Star Chamber of England, with its Tower, its axe and headsman? Do we need the

aid of the whipping post, the stocks, the Smithfield fires, the rack and the

gibbet? Or do we require an autocratic governor, with his staff of judges and

Federal appointees, possessing all the power of the Doges, with their pains,

penalties, and military prisons, to carry out republican principles in


Surely so great and powerful a nation as that of the United States . . .

can afford to treat considerately, if not justly, its less fortunate

dependency, numbering not more than about one hundred and thirty thousand

inhabitants. (4)

If it is their misfortune to have imbibed heretical doctrines and to be

duped of a false religion, surely their more enlightened confreres, who are

moving in a higher plane, and are blessed with a true religion, can afford to

exhibit sufficient magnanimity to treat their less fortunate brethren at least

with evenhanded justice. This is all we ask; is it too much to require? (5)

The probate courts of Utah, with Mormon judges, had jurisdiction in

matters of Territorial law. These courts were under particular attack in

Congress. In his fourth letter, Taylor presented evidence of the probate

courts' impartiality, then opened his "Black Book" to contrast this with

the record of the Federal courts under carpetbag rule.

[310] I have before me a transcript from the records of the Probate Court of

Salt Lake County , . . . wherein there is an exhibit of eightyfour civil

cases . . . over a period from Feb. 6, 1865, to Dec. 28, 1869 . . . which have

been adjudicated before that tribunal, and in which there is not a particle of

evidence to show . . . any injury or injustice to Mormons or nonMormons; and

these cases clearly show an unbounded confidence reposed in the Probate Courts

by nonMormons and Dissenters, sixtytwo of them out of the eightyfour . . .

. being plaintiffs. It also plainly demonstrates that the administration of

justice in this court is not affected by the religious status of the parties

litigant, for of the eightyfour cases, twentyfive were lost by nonMormons,

and fiftynine by Mormons. . . .

I feel proud to see a record like the above, for while it gives the lie

flatly to our defamers, it proves that outcourts and juries act justly, and

are not influenced by any religious bias. Our religion teaches honesty and

justice, and I am pleased to see it so fully carried out . . . .

Mr. R. N. Baskin. . . . who is well known to be a prime mover in the

clamor for special legislation for Utah, testified before the Congressional

House Committee on Territories, June 21, 1870, as follows: "For five years

past I have been a resident of Utah, and I must do the Mormons the justice to

say that the question of religion does not enter into their courts. In

ordinary cases I have never detected any bias on the part of jurors there in

this respect, as I at first expected. I have appeared in cases where Mormons

and Gentiles were opposing parties in the case, and saw, much to my surprise,

the jury do what was right." (6)

I wish I could say the same for them . . . .

We must now turn over a new leaf, and after having examined the action of

our courts in sustaining justice, see what others have done in opposing

justice, protecting and liberating criminals, encouraging lawlessness,

drunken[311]ness and lasciviousness, and shielding crime. I am sorry to have

to make such an expose, but am necessarily obliged to show the contrast in the

vindication of right. In England they have their Blue Book. I am afraid that I

shall have to open the Black Book.

Taylor listed 127 cases of men convicted before the Police Courts of

Salt Lake of selling liquor without a license, who were subsequently

discharged by the Federal Court. "Is it not singular that these rulings

should ALL be in favor of violators of laws?" He asked, and he suggested:

"it seems that there needs a little praying done by the ladies of the

Temperance Reform Brigade."

If this was allalthough bad enoughwe might leave it to the ladies to

correct; but the plot thickens as we proceed: I again quote from the Black


"The following named persons were arrested, charged with various crimes,

and committed to the Third Judicial District Court , and have not to

my knowledge been called to answer

". . . George H. Graham, seduction and rape . . . . John Spiker, assault

with intent to kill . . . . Joseph Murphy, gambling . . . . James Lewis, grand

larceny . . . . Charles H. Marion, grand larceny . . . . Jerry Crowley, grand

larceny . . . . Thomas Butterwood, passing counterfeit . . . . Charles

Burgess, grand larceny . . . . A.C. Bernard, receiving stolen goods . . . .

Samuel Nickens, assault and intent to kill . . . . Joseph Silver, assaulting

an officer . . . . Charles Marion, grand larceny . . . . John Dowd, grand

larceny . . . . W. M. Sullivan, murder . . . . John W. Fagan, assaulting an


" I hereby certify that the within and foregoing abstracts from the

Police Record of Salt Lake City are true and correct.

" Andrew Burt, Chief of Police."

[312] Does the above need any comment? Territorial courts administer

evenhanded justice to Mormon and nonMormon. The U.S. Court appears as the

protector and defender of the crime of rape and seduction, of gamblers,

thieves, counterfeiters, perjurers, of violent men and murderers.

It is a sorry thing to have to present such a record; . . . . I would

rather it had slept in eternal oblivion. But when the citizens of this

Territory and our Territorial courts are maligned, misrepresented and outraged

by some of these courts, by our governor and a clique of their sympathizers

and abettors, and when this same party are moving heaven and earth to fasten

upon this people more of these infernal infamies, it is time the veil was

lifted, that men may be seen in their true light. (7)

In his fifth letter of the series, Taylor again opened the "Black


In the crusade inaugurated by Judge McKean, Strickland, Hawley and

others, prosecutions were instituted against Brigham Young, Daniel H. Wells,

George Q. Cannon, Joseph A. Young, Hiram B. Clawson, Hosea Stout, William H.

Kimball and others. Picked and special juries were organized in accordance

with the Cullom Bill . . . in anticipation of that Bill being passed; . . .

they acted upon its provisions as

though it had passed.

The action of the District Court, it is true, was overruled by the

Supreme Court of the United States, which . . . repudiated the ruling of the

McKean court. But these very laws are now sought to be passed in

Congress, authorizing the reenactment of just such a state of things and

calculated to strip the people of the last vestige of human liberty and place

them at the mercy of such men as I now propose to give the record of.


Taylor listed cases of U.S. Deputy Marshals convicted of assault and

lascivious cohabitation. According to affidavit one of them, Sam Gilson,

hired a witness in a murder trial to give false testimony. (8) A madam

and her soiled doves were convicted of running a house of illfame, but

freed by Judge Hawley on a writ of habeas corpus. Taylor listed convicted

horse thieves, murderers and rapists who were sprung free by Federal

fiat. In Box Elder County a gang of cattle rustlers, which included two

U.S. Deputies, were convicted of stealing 267 head of livestock. Taylor

quoted the charge of Associate Justice C. M. Hawley in freeing the gang

on a writ of habeas corpus:

"If any judge or sheriff . . . in the Territory should at any time in the

future seek to interrupt you in the free exercise of your liberty as American

citizens, you will please make the fact known to me, and I shall see that they

are punished to the utmost extent of the law. Gentlemen, you are now

discharged and this court adjourned."

Well might the sheriff, Mr. Burt, indignantly express himself as follows:

. . . "Thus turning a horde of bandits loose on the community; suffering them

to commit their depredations with impunity, aided, encouraged and backed up in

their nefarious practices by the judiciary; while the officers were threatened

with the severest penalties of the law if they should presume, to interfere .

. . ."

Has it come to this, that a U.S. Judge can find a way to punish honest

men, but cannot discover a method to punish the guilty? . . . These gentlemen

are constantly telling us that there is a deadlock in the courts, and that

they can do nothing, whereas, when it suits them they are the greatest hands

at breaking locks of any set of men between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

When Chief Justice McKean, in his raid on President Young and others, wanted

to fill his mission he stuck at nothing. . . . Mar[314]shals and deputy

marshals sprang up under this administration like mushrooms; attorneys and

deputy attorneys almost ad infinitum; he could manipulate juries to order as

easily as a juggler could his cards; he could send civilians to military

prisons . . . at will; and he manifested the most inventive genius of any

judge in existence.

He now knows how to liberate . . . criminals of every grade, but he

cannot find a way to punish the guilty. The Legislature has tried to assist

him to unlock; the Governor vetoes the laws. The County Court hands him a key

to unlock, but he won't have it. He and the Governor are unyielding on the

lock question. He evidently thinks that the Supreme Court of the U.S. has

infringed upon his judicial reign, and he is determined to be revenged.

This locking evidently suits thieves and vagabonds, as the following,

from the Ogden Junction, March 13, will show:

"A few days ago, Skein and Davis visited Wadman at the county prison

(Ogden) and were overheard by the guard, making propositions to Wadman to take

all the guilt himself, exculpating them, and promising that they would raise

him $300; and in the event of his conviction, they would get him out by the

aid of Judge McKean and habeas corpus, which they found out would cost them

$30. Skein declared he had never heard of one case of the kind that Judge

McKean had not cleared. (9)

"As I have exposed a good many of the acts and doings of individuals

and the courts," Taylor said in his sixth and final letter of the series,

"it may not be improper now to examine some of the allegations made

against us as Latterday Saints."

In a statement remarkable for its candor, Taylor frankly discussed

such subjects as blood atonement, the policy of [315] making untrue

statements to conceal church secretsincluding his own testimony

regarding plural marriage at Boulognesurmerand the massacre of a

Gentile wagon company at Mountain Meadows.

For if our system will not stand the most searching and scathing

investigation, it is not worth having or adhering to. Attrition has a tendency

to brighten metals, and the most intense application of fire only tends to

purify gold.

I have been asked by parties, "Do you believe in the doctrine of `Blood

Atonement', as quoted by Presidents Young and Grant?" . . . I most assuredly

believe in the doctrine as preached by the presidency . . . . We believe, with

other peoples and nations, that there are crimes for which men ought to die.

We believe, moreover, that . . . the right way to do it is by the shedding of

their blood; and that it is much better for them thus to atone, or expiate

their guilt for their sins in this world, than to rush into the eternal world

without. But we do not propose to be the executioners; and hence our

Legislature passed a law predicated upon this idea, giving the convicted

criminal . . . the choice of being beheaded, shot, or hung . . . .

I am asked, "Have you not secrets among you that you do not tell?" Yes.

There are many principles that I believe in that I cannot tell, not because

they are wrong, unjust, wicked or oppressive, but simply because it is

forbidden . . . . "Well, why don't you tell them?" Ask the same questions of

the Freemasons, the Odd Fellows, the Druids, the Grangers and others. I should

say, go to the Lord and ask Him for the reasons; you have the same chance I

have. "Why did you not answer distinctly and categorically some questions put

by some priests at Boulogne, France, and tell them all you knew?" Simply

because I did not think proper.

[316] I now come to the investigation of a subject that has been harped upon

for the last seventeen years, viz: The Mountain Meadows massacre. That bloody

tragedy has been the chief stock in trade for . . . pennyaliners, the press

and pulpit, who have gloated, in turn and by chorus, over the sickening

details. (10)

Do you deny it? No. Do you excuse it? No. There is no excuse for such a

relentless, diabolical, sanguinary deed. That outrageous infamy is looked upon

with as much abhorrence by our people as by any other parties in this nation

or the world; and at its first announcement its loathsome recital chilled the

marrow and sent a thrill of horror through the breasts of the listeners. It

was certainly a horrible deed; and like many other defenseless tragedies, it

is one of those things that cannot be undone.

The world is full of deeds of, crime and darkness; and a question often

arises, who is responsible? It is usual to blame the perpetrators. It does not

seem fair to accuse nations, states and communities for deeds perpetrated by

some of their citizens, unless they uphold it . . . .

It is said that the victims of the Mountain Meadows massacre committed

every kind of outrage in their travels through the settlements; that they

robbed hen roosts, stole cattle and sheep, poisoned wells, and that they

threatened to take their women and children some distance and then return and

spoil and destroy the Mormons. This I only have from statements made by men

living on their line of travel. It is said that ten or twelve Indians were

killed by eating beef poisoned by them; that this and other acts enraged the

Indians, who followed them for nearly 100 miles, increasing their forces as

they went, and eventually it culminated in their attack upon them and their

massacre. That any white man could be found to embark on it is a disgrace to

humanity. I do not know it, but I am afraid that some did; but being done,

what then? . . .

Let us calmly and deliberately examine the facts in the case. The horrid

butchery took place on the then [317] extreme limits of our Territory, in fact

outside of all our then settlements, upwards of three hundred miles from Salt

Lake City. It was commenced and almost exclusively carried out by Indians,

according to the best information we can get. It must also be remembered that

this horrible butchery took place at the time of what is known as the Mormon

War . (11)

Taylor closed his Black Book by saying "that while I have been

obliged to open public records that I would rather have remained closed,

. . it has simply been in defense of an insulted and outraged public,

against the plottings and calumnies of an unscrupulous ring." (12)

Taylor's vigorous defense of liberty had its effect in a change of

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