Profeetan vallan alla Utahissa

Otteita Frank J. Cannonin muistelmista. Cannon oli entinen senaattori Utahista.

Excerpts From:

Under the Prophet in Utah

(Polygamy After the Manifesto & Church Interference in Politics)

By Frank J. Cannon -- Formerly a United States Senator From Utah

1911 Edition

CHAPTER XVI (Pages 318-337)


The members of the Mormon hierarchy continually boast that they are sustained in their power--and in their abuses of that power--"by the free vote of the freest people under the sun." By an amazing self deception the Mormon people assume that their government is one of "common consent;" and nothing angers them more than the expression of any suspicion that they are not the freest community in the world. They live under an absolutism. They have no more right of judgment than a dead body. Yet the diffusion of authority is so clever that nearly every man seems to share in its operation upon some subordinate, and feels himself in some degree a master without observing that he is also a slave.

The male members of the ward--who would be called "laymen" in any other Church--all hold the priesthood. Each is in possession of, or on the road to, some priestly office; and yet all are under the absolutism of the bishop of the ward. Of the hundreds of bishops, with their councillors, each seems [319] to be exercising some independent authority but all are obedient to the presidents of stakes. The presidents apparently direct the ecclesiastical destinies of their districts, but they are, in fact, supine and servile under the commands of the apostles; and these, in turn, render implicit obedience to the Prophet, Seer and Revelator. No policy ever arises from the people. All direction, all command, comes from the man at the top. It is not a government by common consent, but a government of common consent--of universal, absolute and unquestioning obedience--under penalty of eternal condemnation threatened and earthly punishment sure.

Twice a year, with a fine show of democracy, the people assemble in the Tabernacle at Salt Lake, and there vote for the general authorities who are presented to them by the voice of revelation. If there were no tragedy, there would be farce in the solemnity with which this pretense of free government is staged and managed. Some ecclesiast rises in the pulpit and reads from his list: "It is moved and seconded that we sustain Joseph F. Smith as Prophet, Seer and Revelator to all the world. All who favor this make it manifest by raising the right hand." No motion has been made. No second has been offered. Very often, no adverse vote is asked. And, if it were, who would dare to offer it? [320] These leaders represent the power of God to their people; and against them is arrayed the "power of the Devil and his cohorts among mankind." Three generations of tutelage and suppression restrain the members of the conference in a silent acquiescence. If there is any rebel among them, he must stand alone; for he has scarcely dared to voice his objections, lest he be betrayed, and any attempt to raise a concerted revolt would have been frustrated before this opportunity of concerted revolt presented itself. Being a member of the Church, he must combat the fear that he may condemn himself eternally if he raise his voice against the will of God. He must face the penalty of becoming an outcast or an exile from the people and the life that he has loved. He knows that the religious zealots will feel that he has gone wilfully "into outer darkness" through some deep and secret sin of his own; and that the prudent members of the community will tell him that he should have "kept his mouth shut." If there were a majority of the conference inclined to protest against the re-election of' any of its rulers, the lack of communication, the pressure of training and the weight of fear would keep them silent. And in this manner, from Prophet down to "Choyer leader" (choir leader) the names are offered and "sustained by the free vote of, the freest people under the sun."


During the days just before the American party's political agitation, a young Mormon, named Samuel Russell, returned from a foreign mission for the Church and found that the girl whom he had been courting when he went away was married as a plural wife to Henry S. Tanner, brother of the other notorious polygamist, J. M. Tanner. The discovery that his sweetheart was a member of the Tanner household drove Russell almost frantic. She was the daughter of an eminent and wealthy family, of remarkable beauty, well-educated and rarely accomplished. Young Russell was a college student--a youth of intellect and high mind--and he suffered all the torments of a horrifying shock. Unless he should choose to commit an act of violence there was only one possible way for him to protest. At the next conference, when the name of Henry S. Tanner was read from the list to be "sustained"--as a member of the general Sunday School Board--Russell rose and objected that Tanner was unworthy and a "new" polygamist. He was silenced by remonstrances from the pulpit and from the people. He was told to take his complaint to the President of his Stake. He was denied the opportunity to present it to the assemblage.

Almost immediately afterward, Tanner, for the first time in his life, was honored with a seat in the highest pulpit of the Church among the general authorities. And Russell [322] was pursued by the ridicule of the Mormon community, the persecution of the Church that he had served, the contempt of the man who had wronged him, and the anger of the woman whom he had loved. One of the reporters of the Deseret News, the Church's newspaper, subsequently stated that he had been detailed, with others, to pursue Russell day and night, soliciting interviews, plaguing him with questions, and demanding the legal proofs of Tanner's marriage--which, of course, it was known that Russell could not give--until Russell's friends, fearing that be might be driven to violence, persuaded him to leave the state. Tanner is now reputed to have six plural wives (all married to him since the manifesto of 1890) of whom this young woman is one.

Similarly, at the General Conference of April, 1905, Don C. Musser (of whom I have already written) attempted to protest against the sustaining of Apostles Taylor and Cowley; but Joseph F. Smith promptly called upon the choir to sing, and Musser's voice was drowned in harmony. In more recent years Charles J. Bowen rose at a General Conference to object to the sustaining of some of the polygamous authorities, and he was hustled from the building by the ushers.

But the most notable case of individual revolt of this period was Charles A. Smurthwaite's. He had joined the Church, alone, [323] when a boy in England, and the sufferings he had endured, for allying himself with an ostracized sect, had made him a very ardent Mormon. He had become a "teacher" in his ward of Ogden City, had succeeded in business as a commission merchant and was a great favorite with his bishop and his people, because of his charities and a certain gentle tolerance of disposition and kindly brightness of mind.

Smurthwaite, in partnership with Richard J. Taylor (son of a former President of the Church, John Taylor) engaged in the manufacture of salt, with the financial backing of a leading Church banker. Along the shores of Salt Lake, salt is obtained, by evaporation, at the cost of about sixty cents a ton; its selling price, at the neighboring smelting centers, ranges from three dollars to fourteen dollars a ton; and the industry has always been one of the most profitable in the community. In the early days, the Church (as I have already related) encouraged the establishment of "salt gardens," financed the companies, protected them in their leasehold rights along the lake shores, and finally, through the Inland Crystal Salt Company, came to control a practical monopoly of the salt industry of the intermountain country (This Inland Crystal Company, with Joseph F. Smith as its president, is now a part of the national salt trust).


After Smurthwaite and Taylor had invested heavily in the land and plant of their salt factory, the Church banker who had been helping them notified them that they had better see President Smith before they went any further. They called on Smith in his office, and there--according to Smurthwaite's sworn testimony before the Senate committee--the Prophet gave them notice that they must not compete with his Inland Crystal Salt Company by manufacturing salt, and that if they tried to, he would "ruin" them. This proceeding convinced Smurthwaite that Smith had "so violent a disregard and non-understanding of the rights of his fellow-man and his duty to God, as to render him morally unqualified for the high office which he holds." For expressing such an opinion of Smith to elders and teachers--and adding that Smith was not fit to act as Prophet, Seer and Revelator, since, according to his own confession to the Senate Committee, he was "living in sin"--for expressing these opinions, charges were preferred against Smurthwaite by an elder named Goddard of Ogden City, and excommunication proceedings were begun against him.

Smurthwaite replied by making a charge of polygamous cohabitation against Goddard; and after the April Conference of 1905; Don Musser and Smurthwaite joined in filing a complaint in the District Court of Salt Lake [325] City demanding an accounting from Joseph F. Smith of the tithes which the Church was collecting. Meanwhile Smurthwaite had been "disfellowshipped" at a secret session of the bishop's court, on March 22, without an opportunity of appearing in his own defense or having counsel or witnesses heard in support of his case; and on April 4, after a similarly secret and ex-parte proceeding, he was excommunicated by the High Council of his Stake, for "apostasy and un-Christian like conduct." His charges against Goddard were ignored, and his suit for an accounting of the tithes was dismissed for want of jurisdiction!

From the moment of his first public protest against Smith, all Smurthwaite's former associates fell away from him, and by many of the more devout he was shunned as if he were infected. Benevolent as he had been, he could find no further fellowship even among those whom he had benefitted by his service and his means. I know of no more blameless life than his had been in his home community--and, to this, every one of his acquaintances can bear testimony--yet after the brutally unjust proceedings of excommunication against him the Deseret News, the Church's daily paper, referred to "recent cases of apostasy and excommunication" as having been made necessary by the "gross immorality" of the victims. When a man like [326] Chas. A Smurthwaite could not remonstrate against the individual offences of Joseph F.. Smith, without being overwhelmed by financial disaster, and social ostracism, and personal slander, it must be evident how impossible is such single revolt to the average Mormon. Nothing can be accomplished by individual protest except the ruin of the protestant and his family.

In the case of my own excommunication, the issues were perhaps less clearly defined than in Smurthwaite's. I had not been for many years a formal member of the Church; and yet in the sense that Mormonism is a community system (as much as a religion) I had been an active and loyal member of it. In my childhood--when I was seven or eight years of age--I began to doubt the faith of my people; and I used to go into the orchard alone and thrust sticks lightly into the soft mould and pray that God would let them fall over if the Prophets had not been appointed by Him to do His work. And sometimes they fell and sometimes they stood! Later, when I was appalled by some of the things that had, occurred in the early history of the Church, I silenced myself with the argument that one should not judge any religion by the crudities and intolerances of its past. I felt that if I were not hypocritical--if I were myself guided by the truth as I saw it myself--and if I aided to the utmost of my power in ad- [327] vancing the community out of its errors, I should be doing all that could be asked of me. In the days of Mormon misery and proscription, I chose to stand with my own people, suffering in their sufferings and rejoicing with them in their triumphs. Their tendency was plainly upward; and f felt that no matter what had been the origin of the Church--whether in the egotism of a man or in an alleged revelation from God--if the tendencies were toward higher things, toward a more even justice among men, toward a more zealous patriotism for the country, no man of the community could do better than abide with the community.

The Church authorities accepted my aid with that understanding of my position toward the Mormon religion; and, though Joseph F. Smith, in 1892, for his own political purposes, circulated a procured statement that I was "a Mormon in good standing," later, when he was on the witness stand in the Smoot investigation, he testified concerning me: "He is not and never has been an official member of the Church, in any sense or form." I made no pretenses and none were asked of me. I was glad to give my services to a people whom I loved, and trusted, and admired; and the leaders were as eager to use me as I was eager to be used in the proper service of my fellows. (Even Joseph F. Smith, in those days, was glad to give me his "power [328] of attorney" and to trust me with the care of the community's financial affairs). But when all the hierarchy's covenants to the nation were being broken; when the tyranny of the Prophet's absolutism had been re-established with a fierceness that I had never seen even in the days of Brigham Young; when polygamy had been restored in its most offensive aspect, as a breach of the Church's own revelation; when hopelessly outlawed children were being born of cohabitation that was clandestine and criminal under the "laws both of God and of man"--it was impossible for me to be silent either before the leaders of the Church or in the public places among the people. I had spoken for the Mormons at a time when few spoke for them--when many of the men who were now so valiantly loyal to the hierarchy had been discreetly silent. I had helped defend the Mormon religion when it had few defenders. I did not propose to criticize it now; for to me, any sincere belief of the human soul is too sacred to be so assailed--if not out of respect, surely in pity--and the Mormon faith was the faith of my parents. But I was determined to make the strongest assault in my power on the treason and the tyranny which Smith and his associates in guilt were trying to cover with the sanctities of religion; and I had to make that assault, as a public man, for a public purpose, without any consideration of private consequences.


After I began criticizing the Church leaders, in the editorial columns of the Salt Lake Tribune, my friend Ben Rich, then president of the Southern States Missions, and J. Golden Kimball, one of the seven presidents of the seventies, came to me repeatedly to suggest that if I wished to attack the leaders of the Church I should formally withdraw from the Church. This I declined to do: because I was in no different position toward the teachings of the Church than I had been in previous years--because I was not criticizing the Church or its religious teachings, but attacking the civil offences of its leaders as citizens guilty against the state--and because I saw that my attack had more power as coming from a man who stood within the community, even though he had no standing in the Church. I continued as I had begun. After the publication of an editorial (January 22, 1905), in which I charged President Smith with being all that the testimony then before the Senate committee had proven him to be, Ben Rich advised me that I must either withdraw from the Church or Smith would proceed against me in the Church tribunals and make my family suffer. I replied that I would not withdraw and that I would fight all cases against me on the issue of free speech. On February 1, 1905, I published, editorially, "An address to the Earthly King of the Kingdom of God," in which I charged Smith with having violated the laws (revelations) of his predecessors; with having made and violated [330] treaties upon which the safety of his "subjects" depended; with having taken the bodies of the daughters of his subjects and bestowed them upon his favorites; with having impoverished his subjects by a system of elaborate exactions (tithes) in order to enrich "the crown"--and so forth. All of which, burlesquely written as if to a Czar by a constitutionalist, was accepted by the Mormon people as in no way absurd in its tone as coming from one American citizen to another!

Because of these two editorials I was charged (February 21, 1905) before a ward bishop's court in Ogden with "unchristian like conduct and apostasy," after two minor Church officials had called upon me at my home and received my acknowledgment of the authorship of the editorials, my refusal to retract them, and my statement that I did not "sustain" Joseph F. Smith as head of the Church, since he was "leaving the worship of God for the worship of Mammon and leading the people astray." On the night of February 24, I appeared in my own defense before the bishop's court, at the hour appointed, without witnesses or counsel, because I had been notified that no one would be permitted to attend with me. And, of course, the defense I made was that the articles were true and that I was prepared to prove them true.


Such a court usually consists of a bishop and his two councillors, but in this case the place of the second councillor had been taken by a high priest named Elder George W Larkin, a man reputed to be "richly endowed with the Spirit." I had a peculiar psychological experience with Larkin. After I had spoken at some length in my own defense, Larkin rose to work himself up into one of the rhapsodies for which he was noted. "Brother Frank," he began, "I want to bear my testimony to you that this is the work of God--and nothing can stay its progress--and all who interfere will be swept away as chaff "--rising to those transports of auto-hypnotic exaltation which such as he accept as the effect of the spirit of God speaking through them. "You were born in the covenant, and the condemnation is more severe upon one who has the birthright than upon one not of the faith who fights against the authority of God's servants." I had concluded to try the effect of a resistant mental force, and while I stared at him I was saying to myself: "This is a mere vapor of words. You shall not continue in this tirade. Stop!" He began to have difficulty in finding his phrases. The expected afflatus did not seem to have arrived to lift him. He faltered, hesitated, and finally, with an explanation that he had not been feeling well, he resumed his seat, apologetically.

That left me free to "bear testimony" [332] somewhat myself. I warned the members of the "court" that no work of righteousness could succeed except by keeping faith with the Almighty--which meant keeping faith with his children upon earth. I reminded them of the dark days, which all of them could recall, when we had repeatedly covenanted to God and to the nation that if we could be relieved of what we deemed the world's oppression we would fulfil every obligation of our promises. I pointed out to them that the Church was passing into the ways of the world; that our people were being pauperized; that some of them were in the poorhouses in their old age after having paid tithes all their active lives; that by our practices we were bearing testimony against the revelations which Mormons proclaimed to the world for the salvation of the bodies and souls of men.

They listened to me with the same friendly spirit that had marked all their proceedings-- for these men had no animosity against me; they were merely obeying the orders of their superiors. And when we arose to disperse, the bishop put his hand on my shoulder and said, in the usual form of words: "'Brother Frank, we will consider your case, and if we find you ought to do anything to make matters right, we will let you know what it is."

I returned to my home, where I had left my wife and children chatting at the dinner [333] table. They had known where I was going. They knew what the issue of my "trial" would be for them and for me. Yet when I came back to them, none asked me any questions and none seemed perturbed. And this is typical of the Mormon family. I think the experiences through which the people have passed have given them a quality of cheerful patience. They have been schooled to bear persecution with quiet fortitude. Tragedy sweeps by them in the daily current of life. A young man goes on a mission, and dies in a foreign land; and his parents accept their bereavement like Spartans, almost without mourning, sustained by the religious belief that he has ended his career gloriously. Taught to devote themselves and their children and their worldly goods to the service of their Church, they accept even the impositions and injustices of the Church leaders with a powerful forbearance that is at once a strength and a weakness.

Two days later I was met on the street by a young Dutch elder, who could scarcely speak English, and he gave me the official document from the bishop's court notifying me that I had been "disfellowshipped for unchristian like conduct and apostasy." I was then summoned to appear before the High Council of the Stake in excommunication proceedings, and after filing a defense which it is unnecessary to give here--and [334] after refusing to appear before the Council for reasons that it is equally unnecessary to repeat--I was excommunicated on March 14, 1905. No denial was made by the Church authorities of any of the charges which I had made against Smith. No trial was made of the truth of those charges. As a free citizen of "one of the freest communities under the sun," I was officially ostracized by order of the religious despot of the community for daring to utter what everyone knew to be the truth about him.

For myself, of course, no edict of excommunication had any terrors; but the aim of the authorities was to make me suffer through the sufferings of my family; and, in that, they succeeded. I shall not write of it. It has little place in such a public record as this, and I do not wish to present myself, in any record, as a martyr. It was not I who was ostracized from the Mormon Church by my excommunication; it was the right of free speech. The Mormon Church deprived me of nothing; it deprived itself of the helpful criticism of its members. No anathema of bigotry could take from me the affection of my family or the respect of any friends whose respect was worth the coveting. In that regard I suffered only in my pity for those of my neighbors who were so blindly servile to the decrees of religious tyranny that they turned their backs on the voice of their [335] own liberty raised, in protest, for their own defense.

And it was not by the individual protestants but by the entire community that the heaviest price was paid in this whole conflict. It divided the state again into the old factions and involved it in the old war from which it had been rescued. The Mormons instituted a determined boycott against all Gentiles, and "Thou shalt not support God's enemies" became a renewed commandment of the Prophet. Wherever a Gentile was employed in any Mormon institution, he was discharged, almost without exception, whether or not he had been an active member of the American party. Teachers in the Church would exclaim with horror if they heard that a Mormon family was employing a Gentile physician; and more than one Mormon litigant was advised that he not only "sinned against the work of God," but endangered the success of his law suit, by retaining a Gentile lawyer. Politicians were told that if they aided the American party, they need never hope for advancement in this world, or expect anything but eternal condemnation in the world to come; and though few of them counted on the "spoils" of the hereafter, they understood and appreciated the power of the hierarchy to reward in the present day. The Gentiles did not attempt any boycott in retaliation; they had not the solidarity [336] necessary to such an attempt; and many Gentile business men, in order to get any Mormon patronage whatever, were compelled to employ none but Mormon clerks.

The Gentiles had been largely attracted to Utah by its mines; they were heavily interested in the smelting industry. Colonel E. A. Wall, one of the strongest supporters of the American party, owned copper properties, was an inventor of methods of reduction, and, had large smelting industries. Ex-Senator Thomas Kearns, and his partner David Keith, owners of the Salt Lake Tribune, and many of their associates, had their fortunes in mines and smelters; they were leaders of the American party and they were attempting to enlist with them such men as W. S. McCornick, a Gentile banker and mine owner, and D. C. Jackling, president of the Utah Copper Company, who is now one of the heads of the national "copper. combine" and one of the ablest men of the West.

In 1904, in the midst of the political crisis, the Church newspapers served editorial notice on these men that, on account of the smelter fumes and their destructive effect upon the vegetation of the valley, the smelters must go; and that if the present laws were not sufficient, new laws would be enacted to drive them out. Men like Wall and Keith and Kearns and Walker were not terrorized; but McCornick and Jackling and the [337] representatives of the American Smelting and Refining Company either surrendered to a discreet silence or openly joined the Church in the campaign. They were rewarded with the assurance that the Church would protect them against any labor trouble and that no adverse legislation would be attempted against them. Today Jackling, of the copper combine, is a newspaper partner of Apostle Smoot, and he is mentioned for the United States Senate as the Church's selection to succeed George Sutherland. The Church has large mining interests; Smoot and Smith are in close affiliation with the smelting trust; and this is another Powerful Partnership in Washington that Protected Smoot in his Seat and has been rewarded by the Church's assistance in looting the nation.

(Pages 378-394)


But what of the Mormon people? How can such leaders, directing the Church to purposes that have become so cruel, so selfish, so dangerous and so disloyal--how can they maintain their power over followers who are themselves neither criminal nor degraded? That is a question which has given the pause of doubt to many criticisms of the Mormon communism of our day. That is the consideration which has obtained from the nation the protection of tolerance under which the Prophets flourish. For not only are the Mormon men and women obviously as worthy as any in the United States: there is plainly much of community value in their social life; there is manifestly a great deal of efficiency for human good in their system and in the leadership by which it is directed; and this good is so apparent that it appeals easily to the sympathetic conscience and uninformed mind of the country at large.

Let me try, then, to exhibit and to analyze the causes that keep such a virtuous and sturdy people loyally supporting the leadership of men so unworthy of them that if the people were as bad as the ends to which [379] they are being flow directed, modern Mormonism would be destroyed by its own evils.

In the first place, the average Mormon chief is sincere in his pretensions and self-justified in his aims. Usually, he has been born, in the Church, to a family that sees itself set apart, in holiness, from the rest of humanity, as the direct heirs of the ancient prophets or even as the lineal descendants of Christ. From his earliest age of understanding, he is taught the divine splendor of his birth and impressed with the high duties of his family privilege in being permitted to bear a part in preparing the earth for the second coming of the Savior. He is taught that, though all the world may be saved and nearly all the people of this sphere will in some eternity work out a measure of salvation, he and 143,999 others are to be a band of the elect who shall stand about the Savior, on Mount Zion, in the final day.

He is taught that, next to Christ, Joseph Smith, the founder of the faith, has performed the largest mission for the salvation of the world; that in the councils of the Gods, when the Creator measured off the ages of the human race on this earth, to the Savior was apportioned "the meridian of time," and to Joseph Smith, the Prophet, was given the "last dispensation," which is "the fullness of times," in order that the world, having apostatized from the atonement and the [380] redemption, might be saved to heaven by Joseph, "the Choice Seer."

He is taught that the disciples of the Mormon Prophet are literally the disciples of Jesus Christ; that the laws of right and wrong are within the direction and subject to the authority of the Prophet, to be changed, enlarged or even revoked by his commandment; that all human laws are equally subject to his will, to be made or unmade at his order; that he can condemn, by his excommunication, any man or any nation to the vengeance of the Almighty here and hereafter; and that he can pronounce a blessing upon the head of any man, or the career of any people, by virtue of which blessing power shall be held in this world righteously and the man elevated to sit at the right hand of God in the world to come. He is taught that the greatest sin which can be committed--next to the denial of Christ--is to raise hand or voice against "the Lord's anointed," the Mormon prophets. And, for morality, he is taught from his infancy, that he must scrupulously practice those special virtues of his cult, industry, thrift, purity (except as in later life he shall be inducted into the practice of the new polygamy) honesty in business, and charity toward his needy fellow-men.

Formed in character by this teaching, as a steady inculcation throughout his youth, he comes to manhood strong of body, deter- [381] mined of mind, practicing rigidly and intolerantly his petty virtues of abstinence from the use of tobacco, tea and coffee, proclaiming with fanatical zeal the gospel as it has been proclaimed to him, and self-justified in all that he says or does by the large measure of sincerity in his delusions.

And that is, in some degree, the common training of all Mormons. Every Mormon boy attends Sunday School as soon as he is old enough to lisp his song of adoration to Joseph, the Kingly Prophet, and to the Savior with whom Joseph is early associated in his childish mind. At six years of age, he enters the Primary Association; at twelve he is in the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association; at fourteen or even earlier, he stands in the fast-day meeting and repeats like a creed: "Brethren and Sisters, I feel called upon to say a few words. I am not able to edify you, but I can say that I know this is the Church and Kingdom of God, and I bear my testimony that Joseph Smith was a Prophet and that Brigham Young was his lawful successor, and that the Prophet Joseph F. Smith is heir to all the authority which the Lord has conferred in these days for the salvation of men. And I feel that if I live my religion and do nothing to offend the Holy Spirit I will be saved in the presence of my Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. With these few words I will give way. [382] Praying, the Lord to bless each and every one of us is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

At fourteen he becomes a Deacon of the Church. Between that age and twenty, he becomes an Elder. Very soon thereafter he becomes "a Seventy" and perhaps a high priest. He takes upon himself "covenants in holy places." He becomes "a priest unto the Most High God"--frequently before his eighteenth year. Usually before he is twenty he is sent on a mission to proclaim his gospel--the only one he has ever heard in his life--to "an unenlightened nation" and "a wicked world." For in addition to being taught that the Mormons are the best, most virtuous, most temperate, most industrious, and most God-fearing of all peoples--a thing that is dinned into his ears from the pulpit every Sunday in the year--he has been convinced by equal iteration that the rest of the world is a festering mass of corruption.

Often he goes abroad, to some country whose language and customs he must learn and upon the charity of whose toilers he must depend for his maintenance. He goes with an implicit reliance upon God, strong in the small virtues that have been taught him from the time he knelt at his mother's knee. He sees, probably for the first time, the afflictions and the sins among mankind; and he keeps himself unspotted from them, congratulating [383] himself that these grossnesses are unknown to his sheltered home-life and to the religion which he holds as the ideal of his soul. He proclaims his belief that God has spoken from the Heavens, through the Mormon Prophet, in this last day, to restore the gospel of Christ from which the peoples of the earth have wandered. He "bears testimony" to the whole world, and he binds himself to the authority of his Church by proclaiming his belief in it.

When he returns home, after years of service, he's called to the stand in the tabernacle to give a report of his work. He finds waiting for him a ready advancement in the offices of the Church, according as he may show himself worthy of advancement or as the power of family or the favor of ecclesiastical authority may obtain it for him. He marries a girl who has had a training almost identical with his own. She, too, has borne her testimony before she reached years of responsibility. She has taken her vows as a priestess at the age when he was dedicating himself a priest. She may even have performed a foreign mission. They have both been promised that they shall become kings and queens in the eternal world. They are bound by their covenants to obey their superior priests. They cannot disregard their Church affiliations without recanting their vows. The only way they can adhere to their [384] covenants with their Almighty Father--the only way they can demonstrate their acceptance of the atoning power of the Redeemer's sacrifice--is by yielding such obedience to the Prophet as they would pay to the Father and the Son if They were on earth in Their proper persons. To deviate from this faithfulness is to be marked as a Judas Iscariot by all the Latter-Day Saints.

As soon as the Mormon becomes the head of a family--in addition to all the testimonies and performances which he must give as proof of his continued adherence--he must submit himself and his household to the examination and espionage of the ward teachers, who invade his home at least once a month. They enter absolutely as the proprietors of the house. If the husband is there, they ask him whether he performs his duties in the Church; whether he holds family prayer morning and evening; whether he "keeps the word of wisdom "--that is, does he abstain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee--whether he pays a full tithe and all the prescribed donations to the Church; whether he has any hard feelings against any of his brethren and sisters; and finally, does he devoutly sustain the Prophet as the ruler of God's Kingdom upon earth. These questions, so far as they apply, are put to each member of the family above the age of eight years. Should the husband be away, all the [385] inquiries concerning him are made of the wife. If both parents are absent, the questions concerning them are put to their children!

This one branch of the ecclesiastical service is sufficient of itself to mark the Mormon Church as the most perfectly disciplined institution among mankind. The teachers' quorum in any neighborhood consists of some tried elders, usually of considerable ability and experience. With these are associated numerous young men, many of them returned missionaries. The fact that they have countless other duties in the Church and many other and weightier responsibilities, is not permitted to excuse them from performing strictly this important labor. Perhaps a dozen or twenty families are assigned to a couple of teachers. They are required to visit each of these families once every month. And if they discover any lapse of fidelity, they report at once to the Bishop.

No one who has not seen them on their rounds will believe with what an air of divinely privileged authority they enter a home and force its secrets of conscience--with what an imposing and arrogant zeal--with what a calm assumption of spiritual overlordship and inquisitorial right. Some few years ago after my public criticisms of Joseph F. Smith had been followed by my excommunication, two teachers, on their monthly rounds, came [386] to my home in the evening and made their way calmly to the library where I was sitting with some members of my family. I had just returned from a long absence abroad, and the visit was an untimely intrusion at its best; but we observed the obligations of hospitality with what courtesy we could, and merely evaded the familiar questions which they began to put to us. Finally, the elder of the two teachers, a man of some local prominence in the Church, undertook. to "bear testimony" to the wickedness of anyone who opposed the divine rule of Joseph F. Smith; and when I cut him short with a request that he leave the house, he was as shocked and surprised as if he had been Milton's Archangel Michael, after "the fall," and I, a defiant Adam, showing him the door.

In addition to the visitations of the ward teachers, some members of the Ladies Relief Society call upon every family usually once a month, not only to gather donations for the poor, but to have a little quiet talk with the wife and mother of the household. These women of the Relief Society are genuine "Sisters of Charity." In most cases they have themselves plenty of household cares, yet they give much of their time to visiting the sick, supplying the wants of the needy or ministering to the miseries of the afflicted; and if it were not for them and their noble [387] work, the Mormon poor would fare ill in these days of Mormon Church grandeur. Outside of their monthly visitations, they have definite preaching to do. At the meetings of their organization, they "bear testimony" that Joseph was a Prophet and so on. They have the quarterly stake conferences to attend. Their traveling missionaries go from Salt Lake to the four quarters of the globe to institute and maintain the discipline of the organization and to teach the methods of its practical work in Nursing Schools, mother's classes and the like. They make up one of the noblest bodies of women associated with any social movement of humanity. And in their zeal and submissiveness they are so innocently meek and "biddable" that they can listen with reverence to young Hyrum Smith publicly lecturing the grandmothers of the order for occasionally partaking of a cup of thin tea.

Under such a system of teaching, discipline and espionage, how can the average Mormon man or woman develop any independence of thought or action? At what time of life can he assert himself? Before he has attained the age of reason he has declared his faith in public. If he shall then, in his teens, express any doubt, the priests are ready for him. "You have borne your testimony many times in the Church," they say sternly. "Were you lying then, or have you lost the Spirit [388] of God through your transgressions?" If he reveals any doubt to the ward teachers, they will overwhelm him with argument, and either absolutely reconvert him or silence him with authority. The pressure of family love and pride will be brought to bear upon him. The ecclesiastical authorities will move against him. He knows that every one of his relatives will be humiliated by his unfaithfulness. His "sin" will become known to the whole community, and he will be looked at askance by his friends and his companions.

After he has taken his vows as a priest, how shall he dare to violate them? He knows that if he loses his faith on a mission--in other words, if he dares to make any inquiry into the authenticity of the mission which he is performing--he becomes a deserter from God in the very ranks of battle. He knows that he will be held forever in dishonor among his people; that he will be looked upon as one worse than dead; that he will ruin his own life and despoil his parents of all their eternal comfort and their hope in him.

While I was editing the Salt Lake Tribune, a son of one of the famous apostles came to me with some anxious inquiries, and said: "Frank, I have been working in the Church and teaching this gospel so assiduously for nearly forty years that I have never had time to find out whether it's true or not!"

If the Mormon, in his later years of man- [389] hood, dares to doubt, he must either reveal his disloyalty to the ward teachers or continue to deny it, from month to month, and remain a supine servant of authority. If he reveals it, he knows that tbe news of his defection will permeate the entire circle with which he is associated in politics, in business and in religion. If his superstition does not hold him, his worldly prudence will. He knows that all the aid of the community will be withdrawn from him; every voice that has expressed affection for him will speak in hate; every hand that has clasped his in friendship will be turned against him. And into this very prudence there enters something of a moral warning. For he has seen how many a man, deprived of the association and fraternity of the Church, feeling himself shunned in a lonely ostracism, has not been strong enough to endure in rectitude and has fallen into dissipation. Every instance of the sort is rehearsed by the faithful, with many exultant expressions of mourning, in the hearing of the doubter. And finally, it is the prediction of the priests that no apostate can prosper; and though the Mormon people are charitable and do not intend to be unjust, they inevitably tend to fulfil the prophecy and devote the apostate to material destruction.

The great doctrine of the Mormon faith is obedience; the one proof of grace is conform- [390] ity. So long as a man pays a full tithe, contributes all the required donations, and yields unquestioningly to the orders of the priests, he may even depart in a moral sense from any other of the Church's laws and find himself excused. But any questioning of the rulership of the Prophets--the rightfulness of their authority or the justice of its exercise--is apostasy, is a denial of the faith, is a sin against the Holy Ghost. The man who obeys in all things is promised that he shall come forth in the morning of the first resurrection; the man who disobeys, and by his disobedience apostatizes, is condemned to work out, through an eternity of suffering, his offence against the Holy Spirit. At the first sign of defection--almost inevitably discovered in its incipiency--the rebel is either disciplined into submission or at once pushed over "the battlements of Heaven!"

By such perfect means, the leaders, chosen under a pretense of revelation from God, maintain an unassailable sanctity in the eyes of the people, who are themselves priests. These people implicitly believe that the voice of the leader is the voice of God. They follow with a passionate devotion that is made up of a fanatical priestly faith and of a sympathy that sees their Prophets "persecuted" by an ungenerous, impure and vindictive world. We love that for which we suffer; and it has become the inheritance of the Mormons to [391] love the priesthood, for whose protection their parents and grandparents suffered, and under whose oppression they now suffer themselves.

Joseph Smith, the original Prophet, was slain in the Carthage jail; to the Mormon mind this is proof that he was the anointed of God and that he sealed his testimony with his blood, as did the Savior. John Taylor, afterwards President of the Church, was not slain at Carthage, but only wounded; and this to the Mormons is proof that he was of the eternal kindred of the Prophets, because, under God's direction, he gave his blood to their defense. But Willard Richards, a companion of Smith and Taylor, was not even injured at Carthage; and this is accepted as proof that God had charge of his holy ones, and would not permit wicked men to do them harm. When the people left Nauvoo and journeyed through Iowa, some of the citizens of that state would not harbor them; and this is argued as evidence that the Mormon movement was God's work, since the hand of the wicked was against it; but in some localities of Iowa the emigrants were aided, and this also is proof that the Mormon movement was God's. work, since the hearts of the people were melted to assist it. When Johnston's army was sent to Utah, it was proof that the Mormon Church was the true Church, hated and persecuted by a wicked nation; when Johnston's army withdrew without a battle, [392] it was a new guarantee of the divinity of the work; and it is even believed among the Mormons that the Civil War was ordained from the heavens, at the sudden command of God, to compel Johnston's withdrawal and save God's people.

In the same way the persecutions of "the raid," and the cessation of those persecutions--the early trials of poverty and the present abundance of prosperity--the threat of the Smoot investigation and the abortive conclusion of that exposure--are all argued as proofs of the divinity of a persecuted Church or given as instances of the miraculous "over-ruling" of God to prosper his chosen people. No matter what occurs, the Prophets, by applying either one of these formulas, can translate the incident into a new proof of grace; and their followers submissively accept the interpretation.

On the night of April 18, 1905, Joseph F. Smith and some eight of his sons sat in his official box at the Salt Lake theatre to watch a prize fight that lasted for twenty gory rounds. The Salt Lake Tribune published the fact that the Prophet of God, and vicegerent of Christ, had given the approval of his "holy presence" to this clumsy barbarity. A devout old lady, who had been with the Church since the days of Nauvoo, rebuked us bitterly for publishing such a falsehood about President Smith. "How dare you [393] tell such wicked lies about God's servants?" she scolded. "President Smith wouldn't do such a wicked thing as attend a prize fight. And you know that no man with any sense of decency would take his young sons to look at such a dreadful thing!" Some time later, when the facts in the case had come to her, in her retirement, from her friends, the editor called upon her to quiz her about the incident. She said: "I'm sure I don't see what business it is of the outside world anyhow what President Smith does. He has a right to go to the theatre if he wants to. I don't believe they would have anything but what's good in the Salt Lake theatre. It was built by our people and they own it. And if it wasn't good, President Smith wouldn't have taken his boys there."

And this was not merely the absurdity of an old woman. It is the logic of all the faithful. The leaders cannot do wrong--because it is not wrong, if they do it. No criticism of them can be effective. No act of theirs can be proven an error. If they do not do a thing, it was right not to do it; and it would have been a sin if it had been done. But if they do that thing, then it was right to do it; and it would have been a sin if it had not been done.

This reliance upon the almighty power and prophetic infallibility of the leaders prevents the Mormon people from truly appreciating [394] the dangers that threaten them. It keeps them ignorant of outside sentiment. It makes them despise even a national hostility. And it has left them without gratitude, too, for a national grace. Before these people can be roused to any independence of responsible thought, it will be necessary to break their trust in the ability of their leaders to make bargains of protection with the world; and then it will still be necessary to force the eyes of their self-complacency to turn from the satisfied contemplation of their own virtues. "You will never be able to reach the conscience of the Mormons," a man who knows them has declared. "I have had my experiences with both leaders and people. If you tell them 'You're ninety-nine-and-one-half per cent. pure gold,' they will ask, surprised and indignant: 'What? Why, what's the matter with the other half per cent.?'"

(Pages 338-359)


In the old days of Mormonism--and as late as the anti-polygamous manifesto of 1890--the whole aim and effort of the Church was to exalt and sanctify and make pure the practice of plural marriage by means of the community's respect and the reverences of religion. The doctrine of polygamy was taught as a revealed mystery of faith. It was accepted as a sacrament ordained by God for the salvation of mankind. The most important families in the Church dignified it by their participation, and were in turn dignified by the Church's approval and by the wealth and power that followed approval. The inevitable mental sufferings of the plural wives were endured by them as part of an earthly self-immolation required by God, for which they should be rewarded in eternity. The very necessities of their situation compelled them to exact and cherish a super-reverence for the doctrine of plural marriage--since the only way a mother could justify herself to her children was by teaching, as she believed, that she had been selected by God for the exaltation of this sacrifice, and by inculcating in her children a scrupulous respect [339] for sexual purity. There was no pretense of denial of the polygamous relation. Plural wives held the place of honor in the community. Their marriages were considered the most sanctified. They and their progeny were called "the wives and children of the holy covenant," and they were esteemed accordingly.

But as the history of the Church shows, plural marriage was always a heavy cross to the Mormon women; many had refused to bear it, in the face of the frequent pulpit scoldings of the Prophets; and few did not sometime weep under it in the secrecy of their family life. In the days immediately preceding the manifesto of 1890, there was a general hope and longing among the Mormon mothers that God would permit a relief before their daughters and their sons should become of an age to be drafted into the ranks of polygamy. The great majority of the young men were monogamists. It required the strong persuasions of personal affection as well as the authority of Divine command to make the young women accept a polygamist in marriage. And when the Church received President Woodruff's anti-polygamous revelation, every profound human emotion of the people coincided with the promise to abstain.

Only among a few of the polygamous leaders themselves was there any inclination to break the Church's pledge--an inclination [340] that was strengthened by resentment against the Federal power that had compelled the giving of the pledge. Almost immediately upon obtaining the freedom of statehood, some of these leaders returned to the practice of polygamous cohabitation--although they had accepted the revelation, had bound themselves by their covenant to the nation and had solemnly subscribed to the terms of their amnesty. To justify themselves, they found it necessary to teach that polygamy was still approved by the law of God--that the practice of plural marriage had only been abandoned because it was forbidden by the laws of man. Joseph F. Smith continued to live with his five wives and to rear children by all of them. Those of the apostles who were not assured of that attainment to the principality of Heaven which was promised the man of five wives and proportionate progeny, were naturally tempted (if, indeed, they were not actually encouraged) to take Joseph F. Smith as their examplar. It was scarcely worse to break the covenant by taking a new polygamous wife than by continuing polygamous relations with former plural wives; and when an apostle took a new polygamous wife, his inevitable and necessary course was to justify himself by the authority of God. He could not then deny the same authority to the minor ecclesiasts, even if he had wished to. And, finally, when the evil circle spread to the [341] man on the fringe of the Church--who could not obtain even such poor authorization for his perfidy--he found a way to perpetrate a pretended plural marriage with his victim, and the Church authorities did not dare but protect him.

This was polygamy without the great saving grace that had previously defended the Mormon women from the cruelties and abuses of the practice. It was polygamy without honor--polygamy against an assumed revelation of God instead of by virtue of one--polygamy worse than that of the Mohammedans, since it was necessarily clandestine, could claim no social respect or acceptance, and was forbidden "by the laws of God and man" alike.

This is the "new polygamy" of Mormonism. The Church leaders dare not acknowledge it--for fear of the national consequences. They dare not even secretly issue certificates of plural marriage, lest the record should be betrayed. They protect the polygamist by a conspiracy of falsehood that is almost as shameful as the shame it seeks to cover; and the infection of the duplicity spreads like a plague to corrupt the whole social life of the people. The wife of a new polygamist cannot claim a husband; she has no social status; she cannot, even to her parents, prove the religious sanction for her marital relations. Her children are taught that they must not [342] use a father's name. They are hopelessly outside the law--without the possibility that any further statutes of legitimization will be enacted for their relief. They are born in falsehood and bred to the living of a lie. Their father cannot claim the authority of the Church for their parentage, for he must protect his Prophet. He cannot even publicly acknowledge them--any more than he can publicly acknowledge their mother.

Out of these terrible conditions comes such an instance as the notorious case of one of Henry S. Tanner's wives, who went on a visit to one of her relatives, with her children, and denied that they were her children, and denied that she was married--and was supported by her children's denial that she was their mother. Similarly, a plural wife of a wealthy Mormon, whose fortune is estimated at $25,000,000--a partner of the sugar trust, a community leader, a favorite of the Church--went before the Senate Committee in December, 1904, and swore that her first husband had died thirteen years before, that she had had a child within six years, and that she had no second husband. And by doing so she not only marked the child as illegitimate beyond the relief of any future statutes legitimizing the offspring of polygamous marriages, but she left herself and the child without any claim upon the estate of its father and publicly swore herself a social outcast before a com- [343] mittee of the United States Senate, and perjured herself--to the knowledge of all her friends and acquaintances in Utah--for the protection of her husband and her Church. What can one say of a man who will permit a woman to commit such an act of social suicide for him--or of a Church that will command it?

Here is a condition of society unparalleled anywhere else in civilization--unparalleled even in barbarous countries, for wherever else polygamy is practised [sic] it at least has the sanction of local convention. And the consequent suffering that falls upon the women and the children is a heart-break to see. During the days when I was in the editorial office of the Salt Lake Tribune, scores of cases came to my knowledge by letter, by the report of friends, and by the visits of the agonized wives themselves. I shall never forget one young woman, in her twenties, who came to ask my help in forcing her husband to obtain a marriage certificate for her from the Church, so that her boy might have the right to claim a father. She wept, with her head on my desk, sobbing out her story, and appealing to me for aid with a convulsed and tear-drenched face.

Four years earlier, she had become friendly with a man twice her age, whom she admired and respected. He had taken two wives before the manifesto of 1890, but that did not [344] prevent him from coveting the youth and beauty of this young woman. He first approached her mother for permission to marry the girl, and when the mother--who was herself a plural wife--replied that it was impossible under the law, he brought an apostle to persuade her that the practice of plural marriage was still as meet, just and available to salvation as it had been when she married. Then he went to the daughter.

"I was terrified," she said, "when he proposed to me. And yet--he asked me if I thought my mother had done wrong when she married my father. . . There was no one else I liked as much. He was good. He was rich. He told me I'd never want for anything. He said I would be fulfilling the command of God against the wickedness of a persecuting world. . . . I don't know what devil of fanaticism entered into me. I thought it would be smart to defy the United States."

Late one night, by appointment, he called for her with a carriage, driven by a man unknown to her, and took her to a darkened house that had a dim light only in the hallway. They entered alone and turned into a parlor that was dark, except for the reflection from the hall. He led her up to the portieres that hung across an inner door, and through the opening between the curtains she saw the indistinct figure of a man. They stood before him, hand in hand, while he mumbled over [345] the words of a ceremony that sounded to her like the ceremonies she had heard in the Temple. She caught little of it clearly; she remembered practically nothing. She was not given anything to show that a ceremony had been performed, and she did not ask for anything. The elderly bridegroom kissed her when the mumbling ceased, led her out to the carriage, took her back to her mother's house, and that night became her husband.

She bore him a son. No one except her mother, her father and a few trusted friends knew that she was married. In the early months of 1905 she read in the Tribune the testimony given before the Senate committee by Professor James E. Talmage, for the Church, to the effect that since the manifesto of 1890 neither the President of the Church nor anybody else in the Church had power to authorize a plural marriage, and that any woman who had become a plural wife, since the manifesto, was "no more a wife by the law of the Church, than she is by the law of the land."

She asked her husband about it. He replied that an apostle had married them. "I asked my husband," she said, "to get a certificate of marriage from the apostle. He told me I needed none--that it was recorded in the books here and recorded in heaven--that it would put the apostle in danger if he were to sign such a paper. I said that that was noth- [346] ing to me--that I wanted to protect my good name. Finally, he said it was not an apostle. Then we had a bitter scene. And he did not come back for a long time. And he didn't write as long as he stayed away.

"When he came back he was more loving than ever. I was afraid of having more children. I said to him: 'You cannot hold me as a wife any longer unless you write a paper certifying that I'm your wife and this boy is your child. You may place that paper anywhere you like, so long as I know I can get it in case you die. Suppose you were to die and all your folks were to deny that I was your wife--say that I was an imposter--that I was trying to foist my boy on the estate of a dead man--in the name of God, then what could I do?' He went away; and he hasn't come back; and he hasn't written. I don't know who married us. I don't even know the house where it happened. I don't know who the driver was. I don't even know who the apostle was that told mother it would be all right. He made her promise under a covenant not to tell.

"I don't know where to go. A friend of mine told me you would advise me. He said perhaps you could make them give me a certificate. I don't want to expose my husband. I only want something so that my boy, when he grows up, won t be "--

What could I do? What could anyone do [347] for this unfortunate girl, seduced in the name of religion, with the aid of a Church that repudiated her for its own protection? She had to suffer, and see her boy suffer, the penalties of a social outcast.

Her case was typical of many that came to my personal knowledge. At the Sunday Schools, in the choirs, in the joint meetings of mutual improvement associations, young girls--taught to believe that plural marriage was sacred, and reverencing the polygamous prophets as the anointed of the Lord were being seduced into clandestine marriage relations with polygamous elders who persuaded their victims that the anti-polygamous manifesto had been given out to save a persecuted people from the cruelties of an unjust government; that it was never intended it should be obeyed; that all the celestial blessings promised by revelation to the polygamist and his wives were still waiting for those who would dare to enjoy them.

If the tempted girl turned to one of her women friends, and besought her to say, on her honor, whether she thought that plural marriage was right, the other was likely enough to answer: "Yes, yes. Indeed it is. Promise me you won't tell a living soul. Tell me you'll die first. . . . I'm married to Brother L----, the leader of the ward choir."

If she asked her mother: "Tell me. Is plural marriage wrong?" the mother could [348] only reply: "Oh--I don't know--I don't know. Your father said it was right, and I accepted it--and we practised [sic] it--and you have always loved your other brothers and sisters, and it seems to me it can't be wrong, since we have lived it. But--Oh, I don't know, daughter. I don't know."

The man who is tempting her knows. He has the word of an apostle, the example of the Prophet, the secret teaching of the Church. He courts her as any other religious young girl might be courted--with little attentions, at the meetings, over the music books--and he has, to aid him, a religious exaltation in her, induced by his plea that she is to enter into the mystery of the holy covenant, to become one of the most faithful of a persecuted Church, to defy the wicked laws of its enemies. She is just as happy in her betrothal as any other innocent girl of her age. Even the secrecy is sweet to her. And then, some evening, they saunter down a side street to a strange house--or even to a back orchard where a man is waiting in a cowl under a tree--(perhaps vulgarly disguised as a woman with a veil over his face)--and they are married in a mutter of which she hears nothing.

Such a case was related to me by a horrified mother who had discovered that the marriage ceremony had been performed by an accomplice of the libertine who had seduced her daughter and since confessed his crime. But [349] whether the ceremony be performed by a priest of the Church or by a more unauthorized scoundrel, the girl is equally at the mercy of her "husband" and equally betrayed in the world. Even in this case of the pretended marriage, the elders of the ward hushed up the threatened prosecution because the authorities of the Church objected to a proceeding that might expose other plural marriages more orthodox.

Hundreds of Mormon men and women personally thanked me by letter or in interviews at the Tribune office, for our editorial attacks upon the hierarchy for encouraging these horrors. Strangers spoke to me on railroad trains, thanking me and telling me of cases. Three Mormon physicians, themselves priests of the Church, told me of innumerable instances that had come to them in their practice, and said that they did not know what was to become of the community. One Mormon woman wrote me from Mexico to say that she had exiled herself there with her husband and his two plural wives, and that she felt she had worked out sufficient atonement for all her descendants; yet she saw girls of the family on the verge of entering into plural marriage--if they had not already done so--and she begged us to continue our newspaper exposures, so that others might be saved from the bitter experiences of her life.


President Winder met me on the street in 1905, towards the close of the year, and said: "Frank, you need not continue your fight against plural marriage. President Smith has stopped it." "Then," I replied, "two things are evident: I have been telling the truth when I said that plural marriage had been renewed--in spite of the authorized denials--and if President Smith has stopped it now, he has had authority over it all the time."

To me, or to any other well-informed citizen of Utah, President Winder's admission was not necessary to prove Smith's responsibility. In the April conference of 1904, Smith had read an "official statement," signed by him, prohibiting plural marriages and threatening to excommunicate any officer or member of the Church who should solemnize one; and this official statement was carried to the Senate committee by Professor James E. Talmage, and offered in proof that the Church was keeping its covenant.

For us, in Utah, the declaration served merely to illuminate the dark places of ecclesiastical bad faith. We knew that from the year 1900 down, there had never been a sermon preached in any Mormon tabernacle, by any of the general authorities of the Church, against the practice of plural marriage, or against the propriety of the practice, or against the sanctity of the doctrine. We [351] knew, on the contrary, that upon numerous occasions, at funerals and in public assemblages, Joseph F. Smith and John Henry Smith and others of the hierarchy, had proclaimed the doctrine as sacred. We knew that it was still being taught in the secret prayer meetings. Practically all the leading authorities of the Church were living in plural marriage. Some of them had taken new wives since the manifesto. None of them had been actually punished. All were in high favor. And though Joseph F. Smith denied his responsibility, every one knew that none or these things could be, except with active approval.

Perhaps, for a brief time, while Smoot's case was still before the Senate, some check was put upon the renewal of polygamy. But, even then, there were undoubtedly, occasional marriages allowed, where the parties were so situated as to make concealment perfect. And all checks were withdrawn when Smoot's case was favorably disposed of, and the Church found itself protected by the political power of the administration at Washington and by a political and financial alliance with "the Interests."

Today, in spite of the difficulty of discovering plural marriages, because of the concealments by which they are protected, the Salt Lake Tribune is publishing a list of more than two hundred "new" polygamists with the dates and circumstances of their marriages; [352] and these are probably not one tenth of all the cases. During President Taft's visit to Salt Lake City, in 1909, Senator Thomas Kearns, one of the proprietors of the Tribune, offered to prove to one of the President's confidants hundreds of cases of new polygamy, if the President would designate two secret service men to investigate. I believe, from my own observation, that there are more plural wives among the Mormons today than there were before 1890. Then the young men married early, and were chiefly monogamists. Now the change in economic conditions has raised the age at which men marry; it has made more bachelors than there were when simpler modes of life prevailed. The young women have fewer offers of marriage, and more of these come from well-to-do polygamists. The girls are still taught, as they have always been, that marriage is necessary to salvation; and they are betrayed into plural marriage by natural conditions as well as by the persuasions of the Church.

A perfect "underground" system has been put in operation for the protection of the lawbreakers. If they reside in Utah, they frequently go to Canada or to Mexico to be married; and the whole polygamous paraphernalia can be transported with ease and comfort--the priest who performs the ceremony, the husband, sometimes the legal wife to give her consent so that she may not be damned, [353] and the young woman whose soul is to be saved. And this "underground" is maintained against the reluctance of the Mormon people. They aid in it from a kindly feeling toward their fellow-believers--and with some faint thought that perhaps these wayfarers are being "persecuted "--but all the time with no personal sympathy for polygamy. By one sincere word of reprehension from Joseph F. Smith every "underground" station could be abolished, the route could be destroyed, and an end could be put to the protection that is, of itself an encouragement to polygamous practice. He has never spoken that word.

Recently, the way in which the new polygamy is perpetrated in Utah has been almost officially revealed. A patriarch of the Church, resident in Davis County, less than fifteen miles from Salt Lake City, had been solemnizing these unlawful unions at wholesale. The situation became so notorious that the authorities of the Church felt themselves impelled about September, 1910, to put restrictions upon his activity. In the course of their investigations they discovered that he did not know the persons whom he married. They would come to his house, in the evening, wearing handkerchiefs over their faces; he sat hidden behind a screen in his parlor; and under these circumstances the two were declared man and wife, and were sealed up [354] to everlasting bliss to rule over principalities and kingdoms with power of endless increase and progression. He refused to tell the hierarchy from which one of the authorities he had received his endowment to perpetrate these crimes. He refused to give the names of any of the victims, claiming that he did not know them!

It is probable that for a long time plural marriage ceremonies were not solemnized within the Salt Lake temple. Now, we know that there have lately been such marriages in it and at Manti, and at Logan, and perhaps also in the temple at St. George. There are cases on record where a man has a wife on one side of the Utah Colorado line and another wife across the border. No prosecutions are possible in Utah; for, as Joseph F. Smith told the Senate committee, the officers of the law have too much "respect" for the ecclesiastical rulers of the state. Similarly, in the surrounding states, the officers show exactly the same sort of "respect" and for the same reason. They not only know the Church's power in local politics, but they see the national administration allowing the polygamists and priests of the Church to select the Federal officials, and they are not eager to rouse a resentment against themselves, at Washington as well as at home, by prosecuting polygamous Mormons.

Some few years ago, Irving Sayford, then [355] representing the Los Angeles Times, asked Mr. P. H. Lannan, of the Salt Lake Tribune why someone did not swear out warrants against President Smith for his offences against the law. Mr. Lannan said: "You mean why don't I do it?"

"Oh, no," Mr. Sayford explained, "I don't mean you particularly."

"Oh, yes, you do," Mr. Lannan said. "You mean me if you mean anybody. If it's not my duty, it's no ones duty. . . . Well I'll tell you why. . . . I don't make a complaint because neither the district attorney nor the prosecuting attorney would entertain it. If he did entertain it and issued warrant the sheriff would refuse to serve the warrant. If the sheriff served the warrant, there would be no witnesses unless I got them. If I could get the witnesses, they wouldn't testify to the facts on the stand. If they did testify to the facts, the jury wouldn't bring in a verdict of guilty. If the jury did bring in a verdict of guilty, the judge would suspend sentence. If the judge did not suspend sentence, he would merely fine President Smith three hundred dollars. And within twenty-four hours there would be a procession of Mormons and Gentiles crawling on their hands and knees to Church headquarters to offer to pay that three hundred dollar fine at a dime apiece."

Mr. Lannan's statement of the case was [356] later substantiated by an action of the Salt Lake District Court. Upon the birth of the twelfth child that has been borne to President Smith in plural marriage since the manifesto of 1890, Charles Mostyn Owen made complaint in the District Court at Salt Lake, charging Mr. Smith with a statutory offence. The District Attorney reduced the charge to "unlawful cohabitation" (a misdemeanor), without the complainant's consent or knowledge. All the preliminaries were then graciously arranged and President Smith appeared in the District Court by appointment. He pleaded guilty. The judge in sentencing him remarked that as this was the first he had appeared before the court, he would be fined three hundred dollars, but that should he again appear, the penalty might be different. Smith had already testified in Washington, before the Senate Committee, to the birth of eleven children in plural marriage since he had given his covenant to the country to cease living in polygamy; he had practically defied the Senate and the United States to punish him; he had said that he would "stand" his "chances" before the law and courts of his own state. All of this was well known to the judge who fined him three hundred dollars--a sum of money scarcely equal to the amount of Smith's official income for the time he was in court!

A leader of the Church, not long ago, asked [357] me, in private conference, what was the policy of the American party with regard to the new plural wives and their children. I replied that as far as I knew it, the policy was to have the Church accept its responsibility in the matter and give the wives and children what ever recognition could be given them by their religion. The Church was guilty before God and man of having encouraged the awful condition. It was unspeakably cowardly and unfair for the Church leaders to put the whole burden of suffering on the helpless women and children; and, moreover, this course was a justification to polygamists in deserting their wives, on the ground that the Church had never sanctioned the relation.

This Church leader, himself a new polygamist, answered miserably: "The Church will not let itself be put in such a light before the country. That would be to admit that it has been responsible all the time."

I asked: "Has the Church not been responsible?"

He replied--equivocating--: "Well, not the Church. The Church has never taken a vote on it."

"That," I said, "answers why you have never got redress and never will get it--because you are all liars, from top to bottom. You know you would never have entered the polygamous relation--nor could you have induced your wife to enter it--except with [358] full knowledge that the Church did authorize it. The Church is one man, and you know it. The whole theory of your theology collapses if you deny that."

He shook his head blankly. "I don't know what is to become of us. I don't see any way out."

I could only advise him that he should join with other new polygamists in demanding that the Church authorities make all possible reparation to the women and children who were being crushed under the penalties of the Church's crime. But I knew that such advice was vain. He could not make such a demand, any more than any other slave could demand his freedom. And if the non-polygamists demanded it, the Prophets would deny that polygamy was being practised [sic]. The children could not be legitimized--for the Church cannot obtain legitimizing statutes without avowing its responsibility for the need of them; and the Gentiles can not pass such statutes without encouraging the continuance of polygamy by removing the social penalty against it.

So the burden of all this guilt, this shame, this deception, falls upon the unfortunate plural wife and her innocent offspring. She is bound by the most sacred obligations never to reveal the name of the officiating priest--even if she knew it--nor to disclose the circumstances of the ceremony. She has justi- [359] fied her degradation by the assumption that God has commanded it; that her husband has received a revelation authorizing him to take her into his household; that her children will be legitimate in the sight of God, and that eventually the civilized world will come to a joyous acceptance of the practice of polygamy. When the trials of her life afflict her and she finds no relentment in the world's disdain, she sees no avenue of retreat. To break the relation is to imply at once that it was not ordained of God, and to cast a darker ignominy upon her unfortunate children. Her only hope lies in her continued submission to her husband and his Church, even after she has mentally and morally rejected the doctrine that betrayed her. A more pitiably helpless band of self-immolants than these Mormon women has never suffered martyrdom in the history of the world. Heaven help them. There is no help for them on earth.



 Etusivu > Artikkelit | Sivun alkuun


 2000-11-05 — 2002-09-11