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

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are found out. They have run their erratic race. You have no fear from them.

Your cause is before the public.

The eyes of the great American nation are now upon you, and men of honor,

probity and position represent your acts. And to their honor be it spoken, the

intelligent press, irrespective of party, denounce your prosecutors. This

clique is not representative of American sentiment. The majority of strangers

in our midst repudiate them; and there are hundreds of thousands of honest,

highminded, honorable men throughout the land who despise as much as you do

these infamous acts.

We live in the most liberal and enlightened nation in the world. If there

are evils, they can be corrected. The undercurrentthe vital, strong, living

sentiment of [294] Americais fair play, justice for all, equal rights,

liberty, equality and brotherhood. . . . Men of standing and position are now

noting your acts, and they will report them truly and correctly.

Therefore, keep quiet, and do not play into your enemies' hands. . . .

Let them have full swing. And if I am not mistaken in the American nation,

there is enough of the spirit of '76, . . . which, if once aroused, will speak

in thundertones and reverberate through the land; and while ignominiously your

prosecutors will hang higher than Haman. They will be buried in the shades of

everlasting infamy, or if remembered, only to be execrated from generation to

generation. All right; therefore, live your religion, maintain, your

integrity, be "still and see the salvation of God." (15)

"The wisdom of the policy advised by Elder Taylor was soon

vindicated by glorious results," Roberts states. The U.S. Supreme Court

decided that both the grand and petit juries summoned by Judge McKean

were drawn unlawfully, and as "a legal consequence, all the indictments

now pending in the courts of Utah are null and void. Brigham Young and

his Mormon brethren must be discharged from confinement, and the records

of this judicial conspiracy expunged."

(1) Deseret News 16:220.

(2) Life of John Taylor.

(3) McKean provided a pipeline to the Gentile press. Prior to

Brigham Young's arrest, the New York Herald was informed of the grand

jury indictment. It headlined, "BRIGHAM YOUNG HAS BEEN INDICTED. THE

MORMONS ARE ARMING," and it reported that the Deseret News was goading

the people to open rebellion. The people of Utah were unaware of the

indictment until the following day, when Young was arrested.


(4) Robert N. Baskin, prosecuting attorney for Judge McKean's court,

drafted the Cullom Bill. See his Reminiscences of Early Utah.

(5) The Cincinnati Commercial listed the ten ringleaders of the

carpetbag government in Utah as : (1) Chief .Justice J. B. McKean; (2)

Prosecuting Attorney R. N. Baskin; (3) Land Office Registrar George R.

Maxwell; (4) J. P. Taggart, U.S. Assessor; (5) O. J. Hollister, U. S.

Collector; (6) Dennis J. Toohey, recent partner of Hollister in

publishing the Corinne Reporter; (7) Frank Kenyon, proprietor of the Salt

Lake Review; (8) Associate Justice C. M. Hawley; (81/2) C. M. Hawley,

Jr.; (9) George A. Black, Secretary of the Territory; and (10) Governor

George L. Woods.

(6) 4 October 1871.

(7) Quoted in Deseret News, 25 October 1871.

(8) MS, 15 November 1871.

(9) MS, 21 November 1871.

(10) Other members were Charles C. Rich and Daniel Spencer.

(11) "The state thus proposed is truly stupendous to contemplate,

embracing perhaps a sixth of the entire modern area of the United

States." (See The State of Deseret, "Utah Historical Quarterly," April,

July, October, 1940.)

(12) MS, 5 December 1871.

(13) The ring planned to convict Brigham Young of murder on the

testimony of the notorious Bill Hickman, selfstyled "Danite chief of

Utah," who claimed that he killed men at Brigham's orders.

(14) Federal judges were so unpopular at this time that they could

find no courtroom in Salt Lake City except the hayloft above the stables

of the Overland Stage.

(15) MS, 33:78589, 801803.

[296] Chapter 17


Among the many repressive measures introduced into Congress was a

bill sponsored by Samuel A. Merritt, house delegate from Idaho.

John Taylor replied to the proposed legislation with satire, in a

letter entitled "A Brief Remedy."

As there are before the great people of the United States at the present

time quite a number of different measures aimed at the solution of the "Mormon

problem," the Salt Lake Herald comes out with its suggestion which has at

least the charm of brevity:

"Merritt's Bill for the extinguishment of Utah . . . is nice reading for

a winter afternoon. The sixteenth sectionthe bill only contains twentysix

sections, and is about the length of the Levitical lawprovides that the

Governor is to appoint all `probate judges, justices of the peace, judges of

elections, notaries public and sheriffs in said Territory;' but why the deuce

the Governor isn't to be provided with power to appoint all the lawyers,

blacksmiths, storekeepers, school teachers, and the Delegate to Congress, we

can't see. We have commenced reading the bill through, and propose finishing

it, if it takes till next Christmas; yet, after all, there is no question but

the whole affair could be greatly simplified. Here is the rough draft of a

measure which, should Congress kindly pass it, would answer every purpose:

[297] "Sec. 1. Be it enacted, etc., that the Governor, the three Judges and

the Marshal of Utah, by and with the consent and advice of the `ring,' shall

do as they darned please in that Territory; and anybody who dares to dispute

the righteousness and constitutionality of this measure shall be `shot down in

a quiet and Christianlike manner ...."

"Sec. 2. All laws, except this, relative to Utah, are hereby now and

forever repealed.

"That would fill the bill, and we offer it to Congress, certain that its

passage would solve the Mormon problem; for with such power the `ring' would

commence to cut each other's wizens over the spoils in less than a fortnight .

. . ."

Salt Lake City, Feb. 12, 1873.

Editors Herald: Your remarks in this morning's paper . . . brought to my

mind a little episode that transpired in the Turkish empire, and which I have

translated for the delectation of your readers from "Journal du Voyage au

Levant;" tome III; Paris, 1848.

The story concerned an Englishwoman traveling with a caravan in

Lebanon. Lady Stanhope accepted the offer of a rich merchant to refresh

herself with a cup of coffee at his mansion. When she didn't leave after

having coffee, the merchant felt obliged to invite her to dinner; and

when she still stayed on, hospitality required that Lady Stanhope should

be welcome to spend the night. But Lady Stanhope continued to stay at the

mansion, and wore out her welcome; in fact, she took possession of the

place. When the merchant attempted to have her ousted from his property,

Lady Stanhope appealed to the emir. The emir confirmed her right to

possess the mansion, for "Remember that she is a great princess!"


This legend had an obvious parallel in the Utah experience with

Federal carpetbaggers, who arrived as servants of the people, liked what

they saw, and stayed on to attempt to take over the Territory.

I think, with you, that we ought to have a change of government. It would

then be so much easier to arrange matters . . . . And then it is too

humiliating for the president to be under the necessity of logrolling his pet

measures through Congress. If we had an empire, a firman issued by his serene

highness would accomplish everything without the foolish form of law. Besides,

the President has been credibly informed by a very honorable gentleman, Sam

Merritt, that "the demoralizing effect of corrupt Mormon rule excludes all

others except Mormons from a share of the riches of Utah." Now, nothing could

be easier, if we could get the Government changed to an empire, than to do

things as they do them in Turkey. At present Congress is in the way; States

and Territorial governments are in the way; the Supreme Court is in the way;

and it is extremely difficult to get a private matter passed. . . .

Let us have a coup d'etat, turn Congress out of doors, oust the Supreme

Court, burn the Constitution, and proclaim the empire. Then we can divide the

Mormon spoils among the "loyal and peaceable and honest" citizens of these

United States. We can then go and sit down on their properties, as the

Christian lady did on that of their host, and for kindness, courtesy and

hospitality, return robbery and fraudI beg pardon, "reprisals" would be a

better term . . . .

Vive l'empire! (1)

When the "Mormon question" resulted in the introduction of several

more repressive bills in Congress, John Taylor once again used the public

press to uphold the rights of his people. His six letters constitute a

ringing defense of human liberty.

[299] As time rolls on, and Congress is again in session, it seems necessary,

in the common routine of events, that Utah and the Mormons should be dragged

into the political arena and receive their usual quantums of knocks, kicks and

upheavals from the battledore of public opinion, aided by the press; and they

are therefore brought forward before the Congress of the United States, for

their delectation and that of the nation and the world, as were the wild

beasts and the gladiators of Rome, to gratify the sanguinary appetites of

their assembled votaries.

True to the response of their chieftains, already several champions have

thrown down the gauntlet, and expressed themselves ready to do battle for

their cause and party. There seems, therefore, nothing left for us but to

defend ourselves as best we may . . . .

We have never claimed, nor do we now, any special rights or privileges;

but we do claim, and have a right to expect, our inalienable and

constitutional rights, as American citizens. We do claim the rights enjoyed by

other States and Territories, without any invidious distinctions or special

legislation; and above all, we do claim the right we accord to all, of

worshiping God according to the dictates of our own conscience; and we further

believe that the President, the members of Congress, the Judiciary and other

officers of government, are as much bound by their constitutional obligations

as we are, and that the great national compact into which we have all entered

is binding upon the whole commonwealth. We are of right the peers of this

great common brotherhood. We claim equality in social, moral, religious, legal

and political rights. We ask this much; we demand no more. We are getting

tired of special legislation, packed juries, and mission juries.

But why beat about the bush? Who does not know that it is the Mormon

religion that is attacked under the guise of polygamy? . . . We, a number of

us, avowedly proclaim ourselves polygamists, and shrink not from the issue.

But we consider that we have political as well as [300] religious rights, and

we aver that it is unjust, oppressive and infamous to place a whole Territory

under the ban of unconstitutional enactment, to rob everyone of his

inalienable rights, and tear ruthlessly away the last vestige of human liberty

from a whole Territory, simply because a few polygamists live in it.

If polygamy is a crime, let it be so understood and acted upon; but what

have other citizens to do with that? Because Boss Tweed and a few of his

coadjutors committed high crimes in New York, shall the city or state of New

York be condemned for that? . . . Would the honorable gentlemen composing the

Congress of the United States like to be ostracized . . . the Credit Mobilier fraud? Yet that is the kind of legislation

which is contemplated by the framers of several bills now before Congress.

These bills are a direct attack upon the rights, immunities and freedom

of the citizens of a whole Territory, guilty or innocent, unheard and

uncondemned. . . . Has it indeed become necessary to trample underfoot every

vestige of republican institutions to destroy Mormonism? Hateful as it may be

to us, can we not find some plausible excuse, some legal outlet, to wreak our

vengeance on their devoted heads, without rending into fragments our own

institutions, recklessly grasping the pillars of State, and like Sampson,

pulling down the house? . . . Such acts may become an unthinking populace, a

frenzied mob. From reverend seniors and grave Senators, we look for more


One prominent feature contemplated in some of those bills is the

repealing of our city charters. Now, what can that mean? Situated as we are,

in the midst of a mining population, where reckless and unprincipled men

gather from the whole nation and from abroad; where the revolver and bowie

knife are used instead of argument; where highway robbery, by characters under

the euphonious name of road agents, is of almost daily occurrence; where

cattle [301] and horsestealing is engaged in as a regular business, and

organized bands of thieves depredate upon communities; where even railroad

travel is becoming unsafe; . . . where hired desperadoes are employed, at so

much per diem, or by the job, to obtain and retain forcible possession of

mines and other propertieswhat can it mean? Shall Salt Lake City and other

cities in the Territory be deprived of all law, stripped of all legitimate

authority, of protection against the aggressions of such bands of desperadoes?

. . .

We have in all conscience difficulties enough to contend with, to

maintain peace and preserve order, without having Congress assist in the

introduction of anarchy . . . What is the object? Is it to introduce anarchy,

to compel us to copy after the fashion of others, in the introduction of

Vigilance Committees, Ku Klux, Jayhawkers, Pluguglies, or some of the many

questionable adjuncts introduced of late to aid in the government of society?

. . . And, reasoning from cause to effect, can it be the intention of our

reformers in Congress, by introducing anarchy, to force a whole community to

equally extravagant measures, that a pretext may be found for spoil, robbery,

plunder, and devastation and ruin. . . and this simply to get rid of a

troublesome political problem?

It is hoped that there is no such intention; but then, what means the

robbing of the people of the last vestige of civil liberty, as contemplated in

these bills; the placing of them under the exclusive jurisdiction of Federal

officers and appointeesgenerally carpetbaggers who have no sympathy for the

people but who are, most of them, their openly avowed enemies? What means

these military posses and military prisons, provided for in these bills?

People must think, Are we living in war time? Or is it intended to provoke

hostilities and make war upon usa judicial military war, provoked and

provided for by legislative enactment? . . .

[302] I am not writing under the very questionable shelter of a nom de plume,

and have nothing but facts to relate, for which I hold myself responsible.

Calmly and deliberately, then, I avouch that most of our Federal officers have

not been, are not, and cannot be relied upon. . . .

I will briefly state some things that I could sincerely wish were not

true: . . . that while our Territorial courts, officers and municipal

authorities have been always foremost in punishing crime, whether committed by

Mormons or Gentiles, some of the United States officials have shielded and

protected criminals, and for this purpose every subterfuge known to the law

has been brought into requisition. Thus, by writs of error, injunctions,

habeas corpus, pardons, and officious and indecent interference, they have

exhibited themselves as the abettors and protectors of crime. They have

liberated felons and murderers, encouraged drunkenness and riot, protected and

shielded brothel houses, winked at and sustained gambling, and so clogged the

wheels of justice in both civil and criminal cases that they have brought the

judiciary into such contempt that it has become a stink in the nostrils of

honest men.

In making this indictment, Taylor was speaking from intimate

personal knowledge. He was himself a Territorial probate judge.

It would only be just here to say that they liberate those criminals

because of an alleged lack of jurisdiction in the inferior courts, Territorial officers, and for want of a proper jury law. This,

however, is simply a figment. Whatever the cause, however, the effects are the

same, and the courts are brought into the most profound contempt.

It is the almost universal opinion here that these obstructions are

thrown in the way of justice for the purpose of obtaining adverse legislation,

which would enable them to carry out their designs against the interests and

liberties of the people.


Despite the Supreme Court decision which had reversed all Utah

indictments for the past eighteen months, arbitrary acts by the carpetbag

judges continued.

In view of such arrogance and assumption of authority our

Territorial Federal judiciary . . . the reversal of their rulings,

are we still to be told by these same gentlemenin opposition to the rulings

of the Supreme Court of the United States"That we are clogging the wheels of

Justice, and that we need some special legislation from Congress? . . ."

A benevolent sentiment and an enlightened Christian charity would like to

find an excuse for the action of our chief justice , and when

one looks upon his gray hairs, his wrinkled forehead and solemn, careworn

features, the thought necessarily intrudesmay not the learned gentleman be

at least sincere in his erratic administration? For there is something

praiseworthy, nay sublime, in the contemplation of a judge who, impressed with

his responsible position, . . . sternly yet faithfully dispenses evenhanded

justice to all. But when we reflect that he ignores the law of Congress, . . .

perverts Territorial statutes, . . . and manipulates a jury for the evident

purpose of condemning the accused, then this beautiful picture fades away.

When we further reflect that another gentleman, Brigham Young, must be

singled out as the object of the ire of the judge, . . . and appear before his

august presence in his court field over a stable, to be bantered and badgered

by heartless minions of the law, be jeered at by jockeys, stableboys, and

bootblacks; and then to be informed that . . . "It is therefore proper to say

that while the case at the bar is called The People versus Brigham Young, its


could no representative of a system be found but this

honorable and venerable gentleman?

[304] In view of such acts, the beauty of the ermine fades; the reverence for

its wearer vanishes; and in place of the dignity of a court and the majesty of

the law, we see an exhibition of fraud, trickery, inhumanity, injustice, and

tyranny. (2)

"It may be well for us to inquire a little into the nature of the

legislation contemplated in those bills now before Congress," Taylor

stated in his second letter, "and what the results will be upon Utah and

the nation."

Mr. Frelinghuysen has introduced two, Mr. Logan one, Mr. Poland one, Mr.

Sargent two, and how many more have been introduced we have not yet

ascertained. Utah certainly cannot complain of being neglected in the national

councils. . . . But when we reflect that these bills, without exception, are.

. . calculated to strip the people of the last vestige of civil and religious

liberty, it puts another phase on the matter.

It is alleged that the original bill, from which these were taken (for

several of them are nearly duplicates), was gotten up by some parties here . What if it was? There is no necessity for blaming any ring

here, or anywhere else . . . . No matter who are the framers or originators. .

. . we are not to suppose that the introducers of those bills, nor the members

of the several committees, nor those gentlemen composing the Senate and House,

. . . are ignorant either of the contents of those bills or of their injustice

and unconstitutionality. . . .

Not one of them dare introduce such legislation for the governing of his

constituents. All know, or should know, that these acts are

unconstitutional. All know that they are in violation of the treaty of

Guadaloupe Hidalgo. All know that it is a breach of the covenant entered into

our Organic Act. All know that they are at variance with representation and

republicanism. All [305] understand that it is a religious persecution and

that these bills are gotten up as proscriptive, intolerant acts, and that in

passing them they violate all the known guarantees of public and personal

rights, social and religious freedom, municipal and individual immunities, and

are introducing measures too palpable and flagrant to be known by any other

name than that of despotism.

This latter term sounds harsh, and I would not be discourteous; but in

all candor it is right to call things by their proper names. . . . Webster

defines a despot as "one who rules regardless of a constitution and lawsa

tyrant." And to be disfranchised by special legislation on purely religious

grounds . . . by the Congress of the United States, is more reprehensible than

that mob despotism which drove us from Missouri and Illinois; because, while

the latter . . . did it under the influence of frenzy and excitement, the

former in calm, deliberative council, in committee rooms and in their

Congressional halls, . . . deliberately and in cold blood ignore, rend to

atoms, and trample underfoot the most sacred guarantees of our nation's


Taylor analyzed the provisions of the various bills before Congress,

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