. . .
admission into the Union, as a State, . . . compels the nation to meet face to
face a question which it has apparently endeavored to ignore." Is there
anything remarkable in a Territory applying for admission into the Union? Why
should Utah be the exception? Since her application, California,
Nevada, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon and Nebraska have been admitted. And why
should Congress, as Mr. Colfax says, "Endeavor to ignore Utah?" Why should it
be so difficult a question to "meet face to face? . . ."
many . . . may indeed be satraps and require homage and obeisance; but we have
yet to learn how to bow the knee. . . . Some remarkable conversation was had
between Brigham Young and Senator Trumbull. Now, as I did not happen to hear
this conversation, I cannot say what it was . . . . Brigham Young does not
generally speak even to a United States Senator with honeyed words and
measured sentences, but as an ingenuous and honest man.
 But we are told "the recent expulsion of prominent members of his
church for doubting his infallibility . . . ." I am sorry to have to say that
Mr. Colfax is mistaken here. No person was ever dismissed from the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints for disbelieving in the infallibility of
President Young. I do not believe he is infallible, for one; and I have so
taught publicly. I am in the Church yet. Neither have I ever heard President
Young make any such pretensions."
Taylor took up in order the four major points of Colfax's argument:
I. Their Fertilizing of the Desert.
"For this they claim great credit, but the solution of it all is in one
Water! Mirabile dictu! Here I must help Mr. C. out. This wonderful little
water nymph, after playing with the clouds . . . for generations, . . . about
the time the Mormons came here took upon herself to perform a great miracle,
and, descending to the valley, with a wave of her magic wand . . cities and
streets were laid out, crystal waters flowed in ten thousand rippling streams,
fruit trees and shrubbery sprang up, gardens and orchards abounded, cottages
and mansions were organized, and the desert blossomed as the rose . . . .
But to be serious, did water tunnel through our mountains, construct
dams, canals and ditches, lay out our cities and towns, import and plant
choice fruit trees, shrubs and flowers, . . . and transform a howling
wilderness into a fruitful field and garden? . . . Unfortunately for Mr.
Colfax, it was Mormon polygamists who did it.... What if a stranger on gazing
upon the statuary in Washington and our magnificent Capitol. . . . would
announce that instead of the development of art, intelligence, industry and
enterprise, its component parts were simply stone, mortar, and wood? . . .
"This also is one of their favorite themes . . . . They have been driven
from place to place, they claim, solely on account of their religious belief .
This, sir, is all true. Does it falsify a truth to repeat it?
Regarding troubles at Kirtland, Taylor pointed out that "Smith and
Rigdon were tarred and feathered in March 1832, in Hiram, Portage
County." This had nothing to do with the bank's operations, for the bank
wasn't organized until 1836.
But did the bank fail? Yes, in 1837 in the great financial crisis; and so
did most of the banks in the United States, in Canada, a great many in
England, France, and other parts of Europe. Is it so much more criminal for
the Mormons to make a failure than the others?
Regarding Danite activities, Taylor flatly contradicted the
affidavits of Marsh and Hyde.
It is not true that these things existed, for I was there and knew to the
contrary . . . . (6)
I cannot defend the acts of Thomas B. Marsh or Orson Hydealthough the
latter had been laboring under a severe fever, and was at the time only just
recoveringno more than I could defend the acts of Peter when he cursed and
swore and denied Jesus . . . . but if Peter, after going out and "weeping
bitterly," was restored, and was afterwards a chief apostle, so did Orson Hyde
repent sincerely and weep bitterly, and was restored . . . .
Thomas B. Marsh returned a poor, brokendown man, and begged to live with
us. He got up before assembled  thousands and stated: "If you wish to see
the effect of apostacy, look at me." He was a poor wreck of a man, a helpless
drivelling child, and he is since dead. A people are not to be judged by such
acts as these.
As to the message of the governor of Missouri regarding Mormon
aggression, Taylor said, "Now, if the Governor had reversed his statement
it would have been true."
Mr. Governor, it was your bull that gored our ox. We were robbed,
pillaged and exiled. Were you? Our men, women and children were murdered
without redress, driven from their homes in an inclement season of the year,
and died by the hundreds . . . in consequence of hardships and exposure. . . .
Mr. Colfax, in summing up, says, "There is nothing in this as to their
religion." Read the following:
a number of men in Far West, Mo:
"Gentlemen, . . . another article remains for you to comply with: that
is, that you leave the state forthwith, and whatever may be your feelings
concerning this, or whatever your innocence, is nothing to me. The orders of
the Governor to me were that you should be exterminated. I would advise you to
scatter abroad and never again organize yourselves with bishops, presidents,
etc., lest you excite the jealousies of the people."
Is not this persecution for religion?
Taylor termed the Nauvoo Expositor "an infamous sheet, containing
vile and libelous attacks," which "would not have been allowed to exist
in any other community a day."
 A warrant was issued for the arrest of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, for
treason. They were remanded to jail, and while there were murdered. . . by men
with blackened faces. . . . The guard helped them in the performance of their
fiendish act. I saw them, for I was there at the time. I could a tale unfold
that would implicate editors, officers military and civil, ministers of the
gospel, and other wolves in sheep's clothing.
The following will show in part what our position was:
"A proclamation to the citizens of Hancock County: Whereas, a mob of from
one to two hundred men, under arms, have gathered themselves together in the
southwest part of Hancock County, and are at this time destroying the
dwellings and other buildings, stacks of grain and other property of a portion
of our citizens in a most inhuman manner . . . . The rioters spare not the
widow nor orphan, and while I am writing this proclamation, the smoke is
arising to the clouds, and the flame is devouring four buildings which have
just been set on fire by the rioters. Thousands of dollars worth of property
has already been consumed, an entire settlement of about sixty or seventy
families laid waste, the inhabitants thereof are fired upon, narrowly escaping
with their lives, and forced to flee before the ravages of the mob. Therefore,
I . . . command said rioters and other peace breakers to desist, forthwith,
and I hereby call upon the lawabiding citizens, as a posse commitatus of
Hancock County, to give their united aid in suppressing the rioters and
maintaining the supremacy of the law.
"J. B. Backenstos, Sheriff of Hancock County, Ill."
Mr. Backenstos was not a Mormon.
hoped we could enjoy religious liberty. . . . because there was not virtue and
power in the State and United States authorities to protect . . . 
rights. We made a treaty with them to leave. After this treaty, when the
strong men and the majority of the people had left, and there was nothing
but old and infirm men, boys, women and children to
battle with, they violated their treaty by making war upon them, and driving
them houseless, homeless, and destitute across the Mississippi River.
The archaeologist, the antiquarian, and traveler need not then have gone
to Herculaneium, to Pompeii, to Egypt or Yucatan, in search of ruins of
deserted cities. They could have found a deserted temple, forsaken family
altars, desolate hearthstones and homes, a deserted city much easier: the
time, the nineteenth century; the place, the United States of America; the
state, Illinois; and the city, Nauvoo.
Taylor denied the Colfax account of events leading to the Utah War.
There was really no more cause for an army, then than there is now; . . .
and the bills of Messrs Cragin and Cullom are only a series of the same
infamies that we have before experienced, and are designed, as all unbiased
men know, to create a difficulty and collision, aided by the clamor of
speculators and contractors, who have, of course, a very disinterested desire
to relieve their venerated uncle by thrusting their patriotic hands into his
I am sorry to be under the painful necessity of repudiating Mr. Colfax's
It is said that "corporations have no souls," and nations are not
proverbially conscientious about their nomenclature or records. Diplomacy
generally finds language suited to its objects . . . . When President Polk
wanted to possess himself of the then Mexican territory of Upper California,
he sent Gen. Taylor with an army of occupation into disputed Mexican
territory, well knowing that an honorable nation would be obliged to resent it
as  an insult, and that would be considered a casus belli and afford a
pretext for making war upon the weak nation, and possessing ourselves of the
coveted territory. History calls it conquest and reprisals . . . .
President Buchanan, goaded by the Republicans, wished to . . . make war
upon the Mormons; but it was necessary to have a pretext. It would not have
been popular to destroy a whole community in cold blood, so he sent out a few
miserable minions and renegadoes for the purpose of provoking a conflict.
These men not only acted infamously here, but published false statements
by just such characterswas laid at the door of the Mormons. . . .
But in place of the "Beauty and booty" expected by the invading
army, Taylor said:
The Lord put a hook in their jaws, and instead of reveling in sacked
towns and cities and glutting their libidinous and riotous desires in
ravishing, destroying and laying waste, they gnawed dead mules' legs at
Bridger, rendered palatable by the ice, frost and snow of a mountain winter, .
. . at a cost to the nation of about forty millions. We had reason to say
then, "The Lord reign, let the earth be glad."
Oh, how wicked it was for President Young to resist an army like the
above, prostituted by the guardians of a free and enlightened Republic to the
capacity of buccaneers and brigands!
In the spring rumors prevailed of an intended advance of the army.
Preferring compromise to conflict, we left Salt Lake City and the northern
part of the Territory en masse, . . . after first preparing combustible
materials and leaving a sufficient number of men . . . to destroy everything.
Had we been driven to it, . . . every house would have been burned; . . .
every barn, grain and hay stack; every meeting house, courthouse and store
demolished;  every fruit tree and shrub would have been cut down; every
fence burned, and the country would have been left a howling wilderness as we
found it. We were determined that never again should our enemies revel in our
I now come to Mr. Colfax's next heading:
III. Their Polygamy.
As this is simply a rehash of his former arguments, without answering
mine, I beg to be excused inserting his very lengthy quotations, as this
article is already too long. . . . (8)
Mr. C. again repeats his argument in relation to the suttee, or burning
of widows in India . . . . To present Mr. Colfax's argument fairly, it stands
thus: The burning of Hindoo widows was considered a religious rite by the
Hindoos. The British were horrified at the practice, and suppressed it. The
Mormons believe polygamy to be a religious rite. The American nation considers
it a scandal and that they ought to put it down . . . I think that is a fair
statement of the question . . . .
Hold! Not so fast. Let us state facts . . . . The British suppressed the
suppression of the suttee and that of polygamy are two very different things.
If the British are to be our exemplars, Congress had better wait until
polygamy is suppressed in India.
Having "waded through Mr. Colfax's charges and proven the falsity of
his asserts and the tergiversation of his historical data," Taylor
launched again into denunciation of prostitution, foeticide and
infanticide, as threatening "the demoralization and destruction of our
 Your bans are but a mockery and fraud, as are your New England
to be publicly exposed. These crimes . . . run riot in the land, a withering,
cursing blight. The affected purity of the nation is a myth, like the whited
walls and painted sepulchers of which Jesus spake, "within there is nothing
but rottenness and dead men's bones. . . ." You are virtuous, are you? God
deliver us from such virtue.
To a Territory out of debt, prosperous, free from vice and crime,
"What are we offered by you in your proposed legislation?" Taylor asked,
"for it is well for us to count the cost."
First, confiscation of property, our
lands, houses, gardens, fields, vineyards and orchards legislated away by men
who have no propertycarpetbaggers, pettifoggers, adventurers, robbersfor
you offer, by your bills, a premium for fraud and robbery. The first robs us
of our property and leaves us the privilege, though dispoiled, of retaining
our honor and of worshipping God according to the dictates of our own
Now for the secondthe great privilege which you offer by obedience:
Loss of honor and selfrespect; a renunciation of God and our religion; the
prostitution of our wives and children to a level with your civilization; to
be cursed by your debauchery; to be forced to countenance infanticide in our
midst, and have your professional artists advertizing their dens of murder
among us; to swarm, as you do, with pimps and harlots and their paramours; to
have gambling, drunkenness, whoredom, and all the pestiferous effects of
debauchery; to be involved in debt and crime, forced upon us; to despise
ourselves; to be despised by our wives, children, and friends; and to be
despised and cursed of God, in time and in eternity.
This you offer us . . . . We have, and prefer, purity, honor, and a clear
conscience. And our motto today is, as  it ever has been and I hope ever
will be, "the Kingdom of God or nothing." (9)
Colfax was allied with the Gentile "ring," dedicated to political
and economic control of Utah. However, two years later his influence
suddenly was curtailed when the world learned that the public image of
piety of the VicePresident was indeed too good to be true. "Smiler"
Colfax was found guilty of accepting bribes to influence legislation.
Though he avoided impeachmentby the narrow margin of three votesit
was on the technicality that his bribery had occurred when he was a
Congressman, before he became VicePresident. "These charges of
corruption," Roberts, says in the CHC, followed him "to the close of his
(1) Life of John Taylor.
White House these days? A gambler and a drunkard. And the VicePresident
is the same." (Salt Lake Daily Reporter, 10 April 1869.)
President Grant's weakness for the bottle was well known. As for
Schuyler Colfax, he evidently was protesting too much. He was known as
the "Christian Statesman," being famous for a display of public piety.
However, he also was called "Smiler" Colfax by those who suspected that
his ostentatious attitude of rectitude was too good to be true.
Subsequent events confirmed these suspicions.
(3) Taylor was aware that the first revelation on polygamy was
received in 1831. It was not policy, however, to mention this.
(4) Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois visited Salt Lake with a
party of Chicago businessmen, and held audience with Brigham Young. Then
at a Gentile banquet in the city, Trumbull related that Brigham "had said
in effect that, if the federal officers didn't behave themselves, he
would have them ridden out of the city; and from this meeting the report
. . . gave to Vice President Colfax the  advantage to push General
Grant almost to the verge of actual war against Mormon Utah." CHC
(5) These affidavits have previously been quoted in Chapter 3 of
(6) It Was policy at this time to deny the existence of the Danites,
just as previously it had been policy to deny the practice of polygamy.
Marsh, Hyde (and also W. W. Phelps) were cut off for revealing secrets,
just as men were cast out for revealing the practice of polygamy before
it was announced to the world.
For an LDS account, see Leland H. Gentry, The Danite Band of 1838,
in BYU Studies, Summer 1974.
(7) The Cragin and Cullom bills were typical of "a number of hostile
schemes during several previous years," states Roberts in the CHC, "which
aimed at nothing short of complete destruction of local selfgovernment
the practice of plural marriage, Taylor unfortunately lets such lurid
tales go unchallenged. A brief statement of the ascetic requirements and
the discipline involved in correctly living the Principle certainly would
have been in order. Taylor goes to exhaustive length defending the
importance of the practice, and its divine origin; but fails to refute
popular myths regarding its abuse.
(9) For complete text of the TaylorColfax debate, see The Mormon
Question, being a Speech of VicePresident Schuyler Colfax, at Salt Lake
City, a Reply thereto by Elder John Taylor; and a Letter of
VicePresident Colfax published in the "New York Independent," with Elder
Taylor's Reply. Two thousand copies of this pamphlet were issued by the
Deseret News office, Salt Lake City, 1870.
 Chapter 16
THE UNITED STATES VS. THE CHURCH
OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTERDAY SAINTS
The aftermath of the Civil War brought the nation to its lowest ebb.
In a notable oration on the Fourth of July, 1867, John Taylor attributed
America's rise to reliance on Divine providence, and its fall on
arrogance, when "She gloried in her own strength and forgot the Lord."
It may be said we are met here to have a political jubilee, and why
introduce religious subjects? I answer that my religion and politics are so
blended and intermingled that it is difficult to separate the one from the
other. The honorable signers of the Declaration of Independence were not
ashamed . . . to profess, "a firm reliance on the protection of Divine
Providence;" and why should we feel ashamed to acknowledge that those patriots
and statesmen who framed the Constitution of the United States were led by
inspiration? It is an honor to any man or group of men to seek the inspiration
of the Almighty. It is a greater honor to receive it.
The new land was settled because kingcraft, or priestcraft, "had
ruled with an iron hand throughout Europe, Asia and Africa," Taylor said.
The "victims of tyranny" fled for asylum to America at a time when "the
sacred germ of liberty, just springing into life, was in danger of being
crushed by the iron heel of despotism."
 Here, then, was a body of men gathered from the various nations,
desirous to form a government to meet the wants and exigencies of common
humanity. The experience gained in those nations had taught them their evils.
It was for them to avoid the rocks and shoals oil which many of them had
its just powers from the consent of the governed." They stood upon an elevated
platform; they were pioneers of a new world; they trod the verge of a mighty
continent, and were experimenting on a gigantic scale! . . .
The fate of a . . . new world was at stake, and the destinies of unborn
millions in their hands . . . . Was it strange that men of keen perceptions,
enlarged minds and philanthropic hearts, should sensibly feel the heavy
responsibilities resting upon them and seekand obtainDivine assistance? And
shall we, of all others, fail to recognize the dispensation of Providence in
this great national revolution, and acknowledge the hand of Almighty God? Let
us rather, reverently thank His name for the benefits of "life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness....
Let me here remark that in no part of tile political world could
a government like ours have been established. In no part of the
natural world could so good a place have been found . . . . Every material was
here, in rich abundance, for the sustenance of man, the building of cities,
the facilities of trade and commerce, the advancement of the arts and
scienceseverything essential to the comfort and convenience of humanity.
Where was there a country better adapted to try a governmental experiment? . .