Brigham As Dictator Utah Seeks Admission As a State Dissatisfaction Among the Saints Conflicting Judiciaries the New Federal Officials Disputes With Judge Drummond Colonel Steptoe An Expedition Ordered to Utah Official Blunders the Troops Assemble at Fort Leavenworth Hockaday and Magraw's Mail Contract the Brigham Young Express Celebration of the Pioneer Anniversary News of the Coming Invasion Its Effect on the Mormons Arrival of Major Van Vliet the Nauvoo Legion Mormon Tactics.
"I am and will be governor, and no power can hinder it," declared Brigham in a sabbath discourse at the tabernacle in June 1853; "until," he added with characteristic shrewdness, "the Lord almighty says, 'Brigham, you need not be governor any longer.'"1 After the departure of the runaway officials in September 1851, there were none to dispute the authority of the governor, and for several years his will was law. At the opening of the joint sessions of the assembly, a committee was appointed to escort him to the hall of the representatives, where he took his seat in front of the speaker's chair, the members and spectators rising in a body as he entered. The message was then read by his private secretary; it was ordered that a thousand copies of it be printed for the use of both houses, and that it be published in the Deseret News for the benefit of the people. The assembly then adjourned, and at the meetings which followed
1Journal of Discourses, i. 135.
adopted only such measures as were suggested in the message, or as they knew would find favor with the governor.2 "Laws should be simple and plain," remarked Brigham, in his message of December 1853, "easy to be comprehended by the most unlearned, void of ambiguity, and few in number."3 Most sensible advice.
During the years 1852-3 little of importance occurred in the political history of Utah. By act approved January 3, 1853, it was ordered that general elections should be held annually in each precinct on the first Monday in August,4 and in section five of this act each elector was required to provide himself with a vote containing the names of the persons he wished to be elected, and the offices he would have them fill, and present it folded to the judge of the election, who must number and deposit it in the ballot-box; the clerk then wrote the name of the elector, and opposite to it the number of the vote. This measure,
2Officials nominated by the governor were also elected by the assembly, by a unanimous vote. At a joint session held Jan. 17, 1854, Councillor Taylor presented a list of nominations, including an auditor, treasurer, territorial commissioner, surveyor-general, librarian, member of the code commission, a district attorney, a probate judge, and several notaries public. A vote was taken on each nomination, and all were carried unanimously. Utah, Jour. Legisl., 134.
3Copies of the message will be found in Id., 1853-4, 111-23; Deseret News, Dec. 15, 1853. It contains a statement of the revenue and expenses of the territory for the then current year. The assessment for 1853 was at the rate of one per cent, and should have yielded, including the delinquencies in the previous year's collections, $24,121.09. The expenses were only $14,181.23, of which $12,301.37 was for public improvements; but during the year warrants had been issued on the treasury amounting to $14,834.92, and there were previous warrants, not yet redeemed, amounting to $2,896.66, together with outstanding debts estimated at $6,000, making in all $23,733.58. Of this sum $10,003.66 had been redeemed, and there was a balance in the treasurer's hands of $1,298.41, leaving a debt of $12,431.57, for which there were no available funds. The delinquencies still remaining for 1852, when the assessment was two per cent, were $6,463, and for 1853, $10,523. If these were collected, there would be a balance of $4,554.49 in the treasury. The saints are exhorted to pay their assessments more promptly, and the officers to be more energetic in their collection. Copies of the governor's messages for 1851-2 will be found in Utah, Jour. Legisl., 1851-2, 100-13; Deseret News, Jan. 10, 1852.
4Copies of the act are in Utah, Acts Legisl. (ed. 1855), 232-4; Utah Pamphlets, Polit., xiv. 6-7. The result of the election for 1853 is given in an extra of the Deseret News, Aug. 25, 1853, and will be found in the same paper for each succeeding year.
which virtually abolished vote by ballot, gave much ground of complaint to the anti-Mormons. "In a territory so governed," writes Benjamin G. Ferris, who superseded Willard Richards as secretary in the winter of 1852-3, "it will not excite surprise that cases of extortion, robbery, murder, and other crimes should occur and defy all legal redress, or that the law should be made the instrument of crime." The remark is unjust. If crime was not punished, it was from no fault of the legislature, but, as we shall see later, from want of harmony between the federal and territorial judiciaries.
In January 18545 Utah again sought admission as a state, a memorial to congress being adopted by the legislative assembly praying that the inhabitants be authorized to call a convention for the purpose of
5The remaining acts of the legislature for 1852-3 will be found in Utah, Acts Legisl. (ed. 1855), 231-52, (ed. 1866), 64-6. On March 3, 1852, an act was approved whereby it was made unlawful 'to use with disrespect the name of the deity,' or to 'become publicly intoxicated so as to endanger the peace and quiet of the community.' For the former offence the penalty was a fine of $2 to $10, or one to five days' labor on the public highway, at the discretion of the court; for the latter, a fine of $1 to $10. On Jan. 17, 1853, an act was approved incorporating the Deseret Iron Co., Erastus Snow, Franklin D. Richards, and Geo. A. Smith being among the members of the body corporate. Acts were also passed incorporating the Provo Canal and Irrigation Co., of which Orson Hyde, Geo. A. Smith, and Geo. W. Armstrong were the promoters, power being granted to divert a portion of the waters of Provo River. Another act bearing this date gives to Dan. H. Wells the right to erect and control ferries on Green River, the rates of toll being $3 for each vehicle not over 2,000 lbs weight, $4 for any vehicle between 2,000 and 3,000, $5 for those between 3,000 and 4,000, and $6 for those over 4,000 lbs; for each horse, mule, ox, or cow 50 cents, and for each sheep, goat, or swine 25 cents. Wells was required to pay ten per cent of the proceeds to the emigration fund. On Jan. 21, 1853, an act was passed incorporating the Provo Manufacturing Co., of which Orson Hyde, Geo. A. Smith, and others were members. By other acts of this date the Great S. L. City Water Works Association was incorporated, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Ezra T. Benson, Jedediah M. Grant, Jesse C. Little, and Phineas W. Cook being the body corporate; to Chas Hopkins and others was granted the right to build a toll-bridge across the Jordan, to Jos. Busby the privilege of establishing ferries on Ham Fork of the Green River, and to Jos. Young, David Fullmer, and two others that of establishing ferries at Bear River and building a toll-bridge across the Malad. On the same date an act was passed regulating the mode of procedure in criminal cases. By act of June 4, 1853, Abiah Wardsworth and two others were granted the right to erect a toll-bridge across the Weber. The acts, resolutions, and memorials of the legislature were published in the Deseret News. In the issues of June 18, 1853, and Jan. 11, 1855, is a description of festivities held by the members, which the federal officials were invited. They were afterward held once twice each year.
framing a constitution and state government.6 As no notice was taken of this request, the convention met in March 1856, and the people again adopted a constitution of their own, under the style of the state of Deseret, resembling, though with some additions, the one framed in 1849.7 It was signed by every member of the convention, and together with a second memorial, was presented by John M. Bernhisel, who between 1851 and 1859 filled the position of territorial delegate. Both were again ignored,8 probably on the score of polygamy, for otherwise there were many arguments in favor of the Mormons. If their population was not yet large enough to entitle them to admission, it was larger than that of several of the younger states when first admitted.9 They were a prosperous and fairly intelligent community; their wars with the Indian tribes had been conducted successfully, and at their own expense; at their own expense also they had constructed public buildings, roads, and bridges; they had conquered the desert, and amid its wastes had founded cities; there could be no doubt of their ability to maintain a state government; and thus far, at least, there was no valid reason to question their loyalty. That under these circumstances their memorial should be treated with contempt gave sore offence to the saints.10
6A copy of it may be found in Utah, Acts Legisl. (ed. 1855), 41415.
7The full text is given in Sen. Misc. Doc., 35th Cong. 1st Sess., iii. no. 240, Utah Acts, 1855-6; Deseret News, Apr. 2, 1856.
8They were tabled in the senate on the 20th of April, 1858.
9In 1854 W. Richards estimated the population of Utah at 40,000 to 50,000. In Feb. 1856 Leonard W. Hardy, census agent, gave 76,335 as the number, of whom 37,277 were males and 39,058 females. The peace commissioners sent to the territory in 1858, after the Utah war, reported its population at the figures given by Richards. The census of 1860 was taken under some disadvantages. Gen. Burr was appointed to that duty by Marshal Dotson, a strong anti-Mormon, but as the saints murmured at this selection, a clerk in his store was chosen in his stead. The returns gave 40,295 souls, including 29 apprentices, or so-called slaves, and are probably much within the actual figures. At this date the Mormons claimed a population of 90,000 to 100,000, which is doubtless an exaggeration. In order to show the number that would entitle them to admission as a state, they were accused of counting cattle and unborn children as souls. Burton's City of the Saints. 356-8. It is probable that the actual population in 1860 was about 65,000.
10For comments on the admission of Utah as a state at this period, see (cont.)
Another cause of complaint with the Mormons was the impossibility of acquiring a secure title to land. In December 1853 the president of the United States had recommended in his message that the land system be extended over Utah,11 with such modifications as the peculiarities of that territory might require. About a year later, an act was passed authorizing the appointment of a surveyor-general for Utah,12 and soon afterward large tracts were surveyed. But the Indian title had not yet been extinguished; the sections were not open to preëmption, and the saints therefore found themselves merely in the condition of squatters in their land of Zion. They were ready to purchase, but the organic act forbade the primary disposal of the soil, and, as it seems, the government, knowing their ability and their eagerness to purchase, still hesitated to make them its permanent owners. Nevertheless, a few years before, this portion of the public domain had virtually been ceded to them as worthless.
Still another reason for dissatisfaction was the failure of congress to make such appropriations as were granted for other territories. With the exception of about $96,000 granted, it will be remembered, as part compensation for an expense of $300,000 in quelling Indian outbreaks, $20,000 for a state-house, and $5,000 for a library, no money was voted specially for the benefit of Utah between 1850 and 1857; for the sums expended on the survey and construction of roads connecting that territory with other parts of the Union cannot, of course, be so regarded. In 1855 the
(10cont.) Deseret News, Apr. 2, May 21, 1856; Putnam's Mag., v. 225-36; S. F. Bulletins, Aug. 23, 1856.
11And also over New Mexico. House Ex. Doc., 33d Cong. 1st Sess., i. pt l, p. 12.
12U. S. Public Laws, 33d Cong. 2d Sess., 611; House Ex. Doc., 46th Cong. 3d Sess., xxvi. p. 971. The appointment was given to David H. Burr, who, according to a writer in the Internat. Rev., Feb. 1882, p. 192, met, with such opposition that he was compelled to flee for his life. I find no confirmation of this statement, nor does Mr Burr mention any disagreement with the Mormon authorities in his report, in House Ex. Doc., 34th Cent. 3d Sess., i. pt i. pp. 542-9.
seat of the legislative assembly and of the supreme court was removed to Fillmore, and in 1856 again transferred to Salt Lake City.13 In the latter year a further appropriation was asked for the completion of the state-house, but the request was refused, and even the expenses of the assembly and other necessary items were not promptly paid.14
Meanwhile most of the gentile officials appointed by the authorities were, according to Mormon accounts, political adventurers of the lowest grademen who, being glad to accept the crumbs of government patronage, were sent to this the cesspool of the United States. The officials, of course, answered with counter-charges, among them that the Mormons combined to obstruct the administration of justice. To attempt to carry out the laws was, they declared, a hopeless task, in a community controlled by an ecclesiastical star-chamber, working out in darkness a sectarian law, and with a grand lama presiding over their suffrages. Complications hence arise, and the conflict known as the Mormon war.
Among the principal causes of the rupture were the frequent disputes between the conflicting judiciaries. By act of 1852 it had been ordered that the district courts should exercise original jurisdiction, both in civil and criminal cases, when not otherwise provided for by law, and should have a general supervision over all inferior courts, to prevent and correct abuses where no other remedy existed. By consent of court,
13Taylor's Narr., MS.; Wells' Narr., MS.; Hist. B. Young, MS.; Utah Notes, MS.; Olshausen, Mormonen, 163; Utah, Acts Legisl. (ed. 1866), 106. In Richards' Narr., MS., 69, it is stated that the extra expense caused to most of the members was the cause of the second removal. Fillmore is about 105 miles south of S. L. City. In the Deseret News of Jan. 11, 1855, is a description of the state-house at Fillmore, so far as it was then completed.
14Demands were made on congress for the expenses of the assembly in 1856, and for making a survey of the boundaries of Oregon in the same year. Utah Acts, 1855-6, p. 47; 1858-9, p. 38. Neither was granted. In 1852 a bill passed the house of representatives in congress, giving to the legislatures of territories the control of appropriations for their expenses. To this was added an amendment 'that the provisions of this act shall not apply to Utah.' U.S. House Jour., 32d Cong. 1st Sess., 780. The bill was thrown out by the senate.
any person could be selected to act as judge for the trial of a particular cause or question, and while in this capacity possessed all the powers of a district judge. The district court judges were, of course, federal magistrates. By the same act it was provided that there should be judges of probate for each county within the territory; that they should be elected for a term of four years by joint vote of the legislative assembly; should hold four regular sessions each year; and that their courts should be considered in law as always open. Besides the powers pertaining to such courts, they had the administration of estates, the guardianship of minors, idiots, and insane persons, and "power to exercise original jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, and as well in chancery as at common law, when not prohibited by legislative enactment."15 The probate court judges were, of course, Mormons; but appeal lay from their decisions to the district courts. Subject to the revision of the probate courts were the municipal courts, the justices of the peace, and the three 'selectmen' appointed for each county, whose duties were to oversee and provide for the maintenance of the poor, to take charge of the persons and estates of the insane, and to bind apprentice, orphan, and vagrant children.16
Thus the probate courts, whose proper jurisdiction concerned only the estates of the dead, were made judges of the living, with powers almost equal to those of the supreme and district courts. These powers were conferred on them, as the gentiles alleged, in order to nullify, so far as possible, the authority of
15Utah, Acts Legisl. (ed. 1855), 120-1, 123-4. Section 8 of this act, relating to pleadings, is worthy of note, as it shows the tendency of the Mormons to simplify their system of legal procedure. 'Any pleading which possesses the following requisites shall be deemed sufficient: First, when to the common understanding it conveys a reasonable certainty of meaning. Second, when by a fair and natural construction it shows a substantial cause of action or defence. If defective in the former, the court shall direct a more specific statement. If in the latter, it is ground for demurrer; demurrers for formal defects are abolished.'
16An act creating the office of selectmen, and defining their duties, approved Feb. 5, 1852, will be found in Utah, Acts Legisl. (ed. 1855), 136-7.
the higher courts; and as the Mormons alleged, because justice could not be had at the hands of the federal officials, who were little with them and at such uncertain times that, save for the probate courts, they would have been practically without civil and criminal jurisdiction. To the malevolent representations of the latter the saints mainly ascribed the Mormon war, and, as will presently appear, the violation of some of their most cherished rights and privileges.
After Seretary Harris and judges Brocchus and Brandebury had set out for Washington, taking with them the territorial seal and the territorial funds, Zerubbabel Snow held court,17 with little heed to gentile law, until succeeded in 1854 by George P. Stiles, W. W. Drummond being appointed associate judge, as will be remembered, and John F. Kinney chief justice, about the same time.
Stiles, a renegade Mormon, who had been counsel for Joseph Smith and the municipality of Nauvoo at the time when the Nauvoo Expositor was ordered to be suppressed as a nuisance, was assigned to the Carson district, but soon afterward returned to Salt Lake City, where he held several sessions of the court. And now trouble commenced. The legislature had appointed a territorial marshal, who was to take the place of the United States marshal, impanel jurors, and enforce writs when the courts were sitting as territorial courts; while the United States marshal claimed the right to officiate in all the United States courts, whether they were sitting as territorial or federal courts. To the latter, the judge issued certain writs, which it was found impossible to serve, and when the question of jurisdiction was brought before the court, several Mormon lawyers entered and
17According to the provisions of 'an act concerning the judiciary and for judicial purposes,' approved Oct. 4, 1851. A copy of it will be found in Tullidge's Hist. S. L. City, 93-4. Among other proceedings, Snow tried and convicted several Mexicans for buying Indian slaves. The slaves were forfeited and delivered into the keeping of the Mormons. Waites' Mormon Prophet, 23.
insulted the judge, threatening him with violence unless he decided in their favor.18 Stiles appealed to the governor, but was told that if he could not sustain and enforce the laws, the sooner he adjourned his court the better. A short time afterward the records of the United States district courts were taken from the judge's office during his absence, and a few moments before his return a bonfire was made of the books and papers in his office. He, of course, supposed that the records were also consumed, and so made affidavit on his return to Washington in the spring of 1857. Meanwhile the business of the courts was suspended. The records had, in fact, been removed, and were in safe-keeping; but this silly freak was noised abroad throughout the land with many exaggerations, and excited much adverse comment.
The chief justice was a more popular magistrate than either of his colleagues. In Iowa, where he resided before receiving his appointment, he was better known as a tradesman than as a jurist, and on account of his traffic with the saints at Kanesville was called a jack Mormon. On his arrival at Salt Lake City he added to his judicial functions the occupations of store-keeper and boarding-house proprietor. He never lost the good-will of his patrons, and never refused to drink with them. Rotund, of vinous aspect, and of medium height, dull-witted, brusque in manner, and pompous in mien, he was a man whom Brigham knew well how to use; before taking leave of the Mormons he became an open apologist for polygamy. He remained in the territory until 1856,
18The names of the lawyers were James Ferguson, Hosea Stout, and J. C. Little. Id., 37. In Dec. 1858 a Mormon grand jury found that 'James Ferguson of Salt Lake City did use language and threats calculated to intimidate Judge George P. Stiles.' S.E. Sinclair, who succeeded Stiles after the arrival of the troops under Johnston, did his utmost to bring to justice those who had intimidated his predecessor. Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 283, note. Beadle states that Thomas Williams, also a Mormon lawyer, protested against the insult offered to the judge, that his life was threatened in consequence, and that he was murdered while attempting to escape to California. Life in Utah, 175.
and four years afterward was reappointed. We shall hear of him later.
The official who did more than any other, and perhaps more than all others, to bring about the Mormon war was Associate Judge W. W. Drummond. Leaving his wife and family in Illinois without the means of support, he brought with him a harlot whom he had picked up in the streets of Washington, and introducing her as Mrs Drummond, seated her by his side on the judicial bench. Gambler and bully, he openly avowed that he had come to Utah to make money, and in the presence of the chief justice declared: "Money is my God"19 When first he appeared in court he insulted the community by mocking at their laws and institutions, and especially at the institution of polygamy. He also declared that he would set aside the finding of the probate courts in all cases other than those which lay strictly within their jurisdiction. Here was a direct issue, and one that was immediately taken up, for as yet none of the federal judges had declared the powers granted to these courts by the act of 1852 to be of no effect.20 Nor had any such view of the matter been expressed by the authorities at Washington.
When asking for admission as a state or territory, the Mormons did not suppose that the majesty of the
19Adding, 'And you may put this down in your journal if you like.' Remy's Journey to G. S. L. City, i. 469. Remy states that he was present when the remark was made.
20Judge Shaver tacitly admitted the jurisdiction of the probate courts, but Chief Justice Kinney was the first to render decisions from the bench confirming their jurisdiction. His interpretation of the organic act is noteworthy: 'The court holds that by virtue of that clause of the organic act which provides that "the jurisdiction of the several courts provided for," including the probate courts, "shall be as limited by law," that the legislature had the right to provide by law for the exercise by the probate courts of jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases.' Burton's City of the Saints, 379. The clause in section 9 of this act to which Kinney refers provides that 'the jurisdiction of the several courts herein provided for, both appellate and original, and that of the probate courts, and of justices of the peace, shall be as limited by law.' If the phrase 'limited by law' be so interpreted as to extend the right of proving wills to jurisdiction in all other matters, one fails to see the need of federal judges. As well indict a man for murder before a justice of the peace.
law would be represented by a gamester21 with a strumpet by his side. Drummond soon became even more unpopular than had been Judge Brocchus, and after administering justice for a brief term at Fillmore and Carson, went home by way of California. On handing in his resignation, he addressed a letter to the attorney-general, in which are many groundless accusations and some truths. He complains "that the federal officers are daily compelled to hear the form of the American government traduced, the chief executives of the nation, both living and dead, slandered and abused from the masses, as well as from the leading members of the church, in the most vulgar, loathsome, and wicked manner that the evil passions of men can possibly conceive." He is pained to say that he has accomplished little good while there, and that the judiciary is only a puppet. He states that the records and papers of the supreme court had been destroyed by order of the church, that Brigham had pardoned Mormon criminals, and imprisoned at will innocent inch who were not Mormons.22 He attributes to the saints the Gunnison massacre, the death of Judge Shaver and of Secretary Almon W. Babbitt,23 who was in fact murdered by Indians during the year 1856, and says that officials are "insulted, harassed, and murdered for doing their duty, and not recognizing
21Remy states that after a gambling quarrel Drummond ordered his negro Cato to assault and ill use a Jew named Levi Abrahams, who had turned Mormon. Journey to G. S. L. City, i. 469-70. Mrs Waite's version of the matter is, that when the court was about to be opened at Fillmore, a Jew was hired to quarrel with the judge and strike him. Instead of striking him, the Jew sent an insulting message by a negro belonging to Drummond. For answer, the judge ordered the negro to take a rawhide and lay it on lustily to the back of the Jew. The negro and judge were arrested. The Mormon Prophet, 39. See also Hickman's Destroying Angel, 111-12.
22He meutions the cases of Moroni Green, convicted before Judge Kinney of assault with intent to murder, and of a man named Baker, who murdered a dumb boy. Beth were sentenced to the penitentiary, but pardoned on arriving there. Drummond states that on the sabbath after his pardon Brigham accompanied one of them to church. House Ex. Doc., 35th Cong. 1st Sess., x. no. 71, p. 212. He also alleges that five or six men from Missouri and Iowa, who had not violated any criminal law in America, were in the penitentiary.
23Who, he says, was murdered by Mormons by order of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and J. M. Grant. Id., p. 213.
Brigham Young as the only law-giver and lawmaker on earth."
These allegations were denied by the Mormon authorities in an official letter from the deputy clerk of the supreme court of Utah to the attorney-general,24 except those relating to the treatment of the federal officials, the Gunnison massacre, the death of Shaver, and the murder of Babbitt, which needed no denial. If it was true that the magistrates appointed by the United States were held in contempt, there was sufficient provocation. Two of them, as we have seen, deserted their post, a third was probably an opium-eater, a fourth a drunkard, a fifth a gambler and a lecher.
After the departure of Drummond, the only gentile official remaining in the territory was Garland Hurt, the Indian agent, and none were found willing to accept office in a territory where it was believed they could only perform their duty at peril of their lives. The saints had now few apologists at Washington. Even Senator Douglas, who in former years was their stoutest champion, had deserted them, and in a speech delivered at Springfield, Illinois, early in 1856, had denounced Mormonism as "the loathsome ulcer of the body politic." At least two years before this date it was apparent that matters in Utah were tending toward a crisis, though no measures had yet been taken except a feeble effort to supersede Brigham as governor of the territory. On the 31st of August, 1854, Lieutenant-colonel E. J. Steptoe arrived in Salt Lake City, en route for California with a body of troops. As Brigham's term of office was now about to expire, the governorship of Utah was tendered to the colonel by President Pierce. Knowing, however, that the former
24Id., 214-15. Curtis E. Bolton, deputy clerk (in the absenee of the chief clerk), solemnly declares that the records, papers, etc., are in safe-keeping. He states that Green, a lad 18 years of age, drew a pistol in self-defence, but did not point it, and was pardoned at the petition of the U.S. officials and influential citizens of S. L. City, and that the statement as to the incarceration of five or six men from Missouri and Iowa without due cause is utterly false.
was the people's choice, he refused to accept the position, and a memorial signed by himself, by the federal officials, the army officers, and all the prominent citizens, was addressed to the president, asking for the reappointment of Brigham as governor and superintendent of Indian affairs.25 The request was granted, and the colonel and his command remained in the valley until the following spring, being on good terms with the Mormons, except for a fracas that occurred between the soldiers and the saints on new-year's day.26
Orders had been given to Colonel Steptoe to arrest and bring to trial the perpetrators of the Gunnison massacre, and after much expense and the exercise of great tact and judgment, most of them were secured and indicted for murder. Eight of the offenders, including a chief named Kanosh, were put on trial at Nephi City; and though the judge distinctly charged the jury that they must find the prisoners guilty or not guilty of murder, a verdict of manslaughter was returned against three of the accused, the rest being acquitted. The sentence was three years imprisonment in the Utah penitentiary, this being the severest
25On Jan. 4, 1855, Bernhisel wrote from Washington to F. D. Richards: 'I regret to inform you that Prest Pierce finally declined to reappoint Gov. Young. Lieut-col Steptoe is the appointee.' Richards' Incidents in Utah Hist., MS. The memorial states that Brigham Young possesses the confidence of the people of the territory without distinction of party or sect, that he is a firm supporter of the constitution of the U.S., and that his reappointment would serve the interests of the territory better than that of any other man, while his removal would cause the deepest feeling of regret. A copy of it will be found in Tullidge's Life of Young, 239-40, and in Skelton and Meik's Defence of Mormonism, 22. Beadle states that Col Steptoe was entrapped by two of Brigham's 'decoy women,' and to avoid exposure resigned his commission as governor. Life in Utah, 171; see also Waite' s The Mormon Prophet, 27-8. There are no gounds for such a statement. By Orson Hyde, in Deseret News, March 21, 1555, and by others of the Mormons, the colonel is spoken of in the highest terms. Memorials for Brigham's reappointment were also adopted by the legislature, for which see Utah, Acts Legisl. (ed. 1855), 419-21.
26A quarrel broke out between the troops and the Mormons in some of the saloons; fire-arms were used, and several men wounded, two of the soldiers severely. The entire legion turned out and threatened to annihilate Steptoe's companies, compelling them to intrench and remain under arms for three days. The matter was settled by mediation. Olshausen's Mormonen, 189. See also S. F. Herald, March 14, 1855, and Hickman's Destroying Angel, 107, where it is stated that the brawl occurred on christmas day. No mention of this matter is made in the official reports of the officers.
punishment prescribed by statute; but after a brief imprisonment, the culprits made their escape, or, as some declare, were allowed to escape.27
On the sabbath after the colonel's departure, Brigham repeated in the tabernacle the remark which he had made two years before, commencing, "I am and will be governor;" adding on this occasion: "I do not know what I shall say next winter if such men make their appearance here as some last winter. I know what I think I shall say: if they play the same game again, so help me God, we will slay them."28
Such phrase, deliberately uttered at the place and on the day of public worship, at a time when Utah sought admission as a state, was certainly, from an outside standpoint, injudicious, and boded ill for the saints. At this period the slavery question was the all-absorbing topic throughout the country. The sedition in Utah, grave though it was, passed for a time almost unheeded, except by a section of the republican party, which, while criticising the theories of Senator Douglas, added to the venom of its sting by coupling slavery and polygamy as the twin relics of barbarism. After the presidential election of 1856, however, matters assumed a different phase. There was now a temporary lull in the storm which a few years later swept with all the fury of a tornado over the fairest portions of the Union, and the nation had leisure to turn its attention to the Mormon question.29
27Judge Drummond, in his letter to Mrs Gunnison, in Gunnison's The Mormons, ix.-x., says that those who were convicted were old, crippled, and partially blind, while the able-bodied warriors were acquitted, and that Judge Kinney, before whom the trial took place, was so much mortified at the finding of the jury that he at once adjourned the court. He also states that Col Steptoe, Gen. Holman, the government attorney, Garland Hurt, Indian agent, and others were of opinion that those who were found not guilty were acquitted by order of the church. The statement as to the escape of the three who were convicted rests mainly on the authority of Capt. Rufus Ingalls, the quartermaster of Col Steptoe's regiment. In his report to the quartermaster-general, in House Ex. Doc., 34th Cong. 1st Sess., i. pt ii. p. 167, he says that they were at large when he left the valley.
28Again, in a discourse delivered at the tabernacle June 17, 1855, he says: "Though I may not be governor, here my power will not be diminished. No man they can send here will have much influence with this community.' Journal of Discourses, ii. 322.
29In Doctrine and Covenants (ed. 1876), 278-9, is given a remarkable revelation (cont.)
It was now established, as was supposed, on sufficient evidence, that the Mormons refused obedience to gentile law, that federal officials had been virtually driven from Utah, that one, at least, of the federal judges had been threatened with violence while his court was in session, and that the records of the court had been destroyed or concealed. With the advice of his cabinet, therefore, and yielding perhaps not unwillingly to the outcry of the republican party, President Buchanan determined that Brigham should be superseded as governor, and that a force should be sent to the territory, ostensibly as a posse comitatus, to sustain the authority of his successor.30
(29cont.) to Joseph Smith, Dec. 25, 1832, and first published by F. D. Richards in the Pearl of Great Price at Liverpool in 1851. 'Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars which will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls. The days will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at that place; for behold! the southern states shall be divided against the northern states, and the southern states will call on other nations, even on the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and thus war shall be poured out upon all nations. And it shall come to pass after many days slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshalled and disciplined for war.' It is somewhat suspicious that this revelation should appear in the edition of 1876, but not in the one of 1845, or in any other edition published before the war, so far as I am aware. A copy of it will be found in Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 420-1. According to Hist. B. Young, MS.; Carrington's Rem., MS., Joseph Smith early in his career warned the saints that 'some day they would see the United States come against them in war, and that the Lord should deliver them.'
30The above appear to be the main reasons that led to what was termed the Utah war. Among the best statements as to its causes, apart from the official documents already quoted, are those contained in Remy's Journey to G. S. L. City, i. 468-73, and Tullidye's Hist. S. L. City, 144 et seq., though the latter is somewhat far-fetched and lays too much stress on the part that Frémont bore in the matter. 'In the framing of its first platform,' he says the republican party raised her (Utah) to a kindred association with the south; and in every campaign where John C. Frémont was the standard-bearer of the party, there could be read: 'The abolishment of slavery and polygamy, the twin relics of barbarism.' Mr Tullidge borrows somewhat closely from Stenhouse, who, in his Rocky Mountain Saints, 307-8, makes the same remark. The causes of the war have, of course, been touched upon by most writers on Utah, those in favor of the saints claiming that there was no just reason for it, and others bringing numberless charges against them. During the years 1855-7 newspapers and periodicals throughout the U.S. were teeming with articles and paragraphs on the Mormon question, most of them being more or less acrid and unjust in their comments. A writer in the Atlantic Monthly, March 1859, p. 364, states that Buchanan's idea in ordering the Utah expedition was 'to gag the north, and induce her to forget that she had been robbed of her birthright, by forcing on the attention of the country other questions of absorbing interest.' For views and statements of (cont.)
In a report of the secretary of war, dated December 5, 1857, it is stated that Utah was inhabited exclusively by Mormons; that the people implicitly obeyed their prophet, from whose decrees there was no appeal; that from the day when they had settled in the territory their aim had been to secede from the Union; that for years they had not preserved even the semblance of obedience to authority, unless by doing so they could benefit themselves; that they encouraged and perhaps excited nomad bands of savages to pillage and massacre emigrants; and that they stood as a lion in the path of the gentile communities established on the Pacific seaboard. Except that the internal government of the saints was nominally theocratic and practically autocratic, these statements are grossly unjust, but not more so than might be expected from a biased and ill-informed official, who was not even aware that the population of Utah contained a considerable percentage of gentiles. When first the Mormons peopled their desert land they had raised with due respect the Union flag, and as citizens of the nation had, in the name of the nation, claimed the territory as the nation's right; but now, on the 24th of July, 1857, while celebrating the tenth anniversary of the arrival of the pioneers, they were to hear for the first time of the approach of a United States army, and, as they supposed, were to be driven out of their homes at the point of the bayonet.
It has not been alleged, however, except by Mormons, that in ordering the Utah expedition the president had any desire to limit the freedom of the saints in its broadest constitutional sense. However baneful to gentile eyes their rights appeared, however profane their dogmas, however bigoted their rulers, it was not proposed to interfere with them until it was made to appear by the reports of Drummond
(30cont.) the press on the Pacific slope, see, among others, S. F. Alta, Apr. 24, May 21, July 15, Nov. 13, 16, 1857; S. F. Bulletin, Apr. 15, 1857; Sac. Daily Union, Oct. 27, 1857; S. L. C. Contributor, iii.-iv. passim.
and others that they came in conflict with the secular authorities, and even then every precaution was taken to avoid, if possible, the shedding of blood. "The instructions of the commanding officer," writes the secretary of war, "were deliberately considered and carefully drawn, and he was charged not to allow any conflict to take place between the troops and the people of the territory, except only he should be called upon by the governor for soldiers to act as a posse comitatus in enforcing obedience to the laws."
Before the departure of the troops an opinion was requested of General Winfield Scott as to the prospects of an expedition during the year 1857. The general's decision was strongly against the despatch of an army until the following season, on account of the distance and the time required for the concentration of regiments. It would have been well if his advice had been taken, but other counsels prevailed, and about the end of May orders were given that a force, consisting of the 5th and 10th infantry, the 2d dragoons, and a battery of the 4th artillery, should assemble as soon as possible at Fort Leavenworth.31 Several reënforcements were sent forward during the year, and in June 1858 there were more than six thousand troops in Utah, or en route for that territory.32 The command was given to Brigadier-general Harney, a man of much rude force of character, ambitious, and a capable officer, but otherwise ill fitted for the conduct of an expedition that needed the qualities of a diplomatist more than those of a soldier.
It is probable that no expedition was ever despatched by the United States better equipped and provisioned than was the army of Utah,33 of which the portion
31Circular letter of Winfield Scott, addressed to the adjutant-general and other officers, on the 28th of May, 1857. A copy of it will be found in Tullidge's Hist. S. L. City, 121-2.
32A statement of the disposition of the troops and the reinforcements en route at this date will be found in the report of the secretary of war, in House Ex. Doc., 2, 35th Cong. 2d Sess., pp. 31-2.
33For estimates of supplies and subsistence, see House Ex. Doc., 35th Cong. 1st Sess., ix. no. 33, xii. no. 99.
now under orders mustered about twenty-five hundred men. Two thousand head of beef cattle, together with a huge and unwieldy convoy, were sent in advance, the trains being larger than in ordinary warfare would have been required for a force of ten thousand troops. The price to be paid for the transport of stores, provisions, and munitions of war was at the rate of twenty-two cents a pound; and thus it will be seen that if the Utah war served no other purpose, it made the fortunes of those who secured the government contracts. Through a little dexterous manipulation at Washington, permission was given to the man who secured the flour contract to furnish Utah flour, and this he did at a cost of seven cents per pound, receiving, of course, meanwhile, the money allowed for freight, and netting in a single year the sum of $170,000.34 The troops remained in the territory for about four years, and no wonder that they often asked one of another, "Why were we sent here? Why are we kept here? What good call we do by remaining here?" No wonder also that the people asked, "Were they retained in Utah in order to fill the purses of the contractors?"35
Fortunately for the welfare of the expedition, it happened that the harvest of 1857 was a plentiful one, and though the crop of 1856 had been a partial failure, and that of 1855 almost a total failure,36 there
34Greeley's Overland Journey, 253. Greeley says that this instance had become quite notorious at Washington.
35Stenhouse relates that the man who obtained the flour contract received an order for his money payable at Camp Floyd, but had the choice of receiving in lieu army mules at a certain valuation. He chose the latter, and sending them to California realized a profit of nearly 600 per cent on his money. Rocky Mountain Saints, 416. For further specimens of sharp practice, see S. F. Bulletin, June 8, Aug. 20, 22, 30, 1859.
36Utah Notes, MS.; Hist. B. Young, MS.; Richards' Incidents in Utah Hist., MS., 79-80; Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 291. The failure was caused by crickets. In a letter to his son in England, Heber writes from S. L. City Feb. 29, 1856: 'I have been under the necessity of rationing my family sad also yours to two thirds of a pound of breadstuff per day each; as the last week is up to-day, we shall commence on half a pound each. This I am under the necessity of doing. Brother Brigham told me to-day that he had put his family on half a pound each, for there is scarcely any grain in the country, and there are thousands that have none at all, scarcely.' This second famine (cont.)
was now an abundant supply of grain. Neither the famine nor the bountiful harvest which followed appear, however, to have been known to the authorities at Washington. The winter of 1856-7 had been unusually severe. For six months the territory had been shut out from the remainder of the world, no mails having reached the eastern states. To add to their distress, the Mormons were compelled to feed large multitudes of emigrants, who arrived at this period in a starving condition in the hand-cart companies. At the time when the expedition was ordered, there were thousands in the territory who, for more than a year, had not had a full meal; there were thousands of children who had endured the gnawings of hunger until hunger had become to them a second nature. Yet in the orders to Harney, issued while yet the famine was at its sorest, we read: "It is not doubted that a surplus of provisions and forage, beyond the wants of the resident population, will be found in the valley of Utah, and that the inhabitants, if assured by energy and justice, will be ready to sell them to the troops. Hence, no instructions are given you for the extreme event of the troops being in absolute need of such supplies, and their being withheld by the inhabitants. The necessities of such an occasion would furnish a law for your guidance."37
But the sequel will show that instead of the troops living on the Mormons, the Mormons lived on the troops, stampeding their cattle, plundering or destroying their provision trains, and only after all fear of active hostilities had been removed, selling them surplus grain at exorbitant rates.
(36cont.) was compared to the famine of Egypt. For months some families knew not the taste of bread, and settlements in which good crops had been gathered in former years were compelled to send their teams several hundred miles for bran and shorts. After 1855 the Mormons stored their surplus wheat at each harvest, until the completion of the overland railroad removed all fear of famine.
37Letter of Aide-de-camp George W. Lay to Harney, dated from the headquarters of the army, New York, June 29, 1857. A copy of it will be found in Tullidge's Hist. S. L. City, 122-4.
Before the end of June 1857 the first division of the army of Utah was assembled at Fort Leavenworth, and before the end of July was on its march to Salt Lake City, Harney remaining meanwhile with some squadrons of the second dragoons in Kansas, where trouble was anticipated at the forthcoming elections in October. In the instructions issued to the general, it was stated that though the lateness of the season and the smallness of the force presented difficulties, if not danger, it was believed that these obstacles might be overcome by care in its outfit and prudence in its conduct. No expense was to be spared that would insure the efficiency, health, and comfort of the troops; a large discretion was allowed in the purchase of supplies, and no reasonable limit was placed as to the number of guides, interpreters, spies, and laborers to be employed. The men were to be so completely equipped as to act, for a time, as a self-sustaining machine, and to be kept well massed and in hand. Detachments were not to be lightly hazarded, but a small, though sufficient, force was to move separately in charge of the more cumbersome part of the convoy, and in advance of the rest, until overtaken by the main body, when it was to form the rear-guard. Thus no precautions were omitted that might serve to insure the success of the expedition, and it was hoped that its purpose might be attained without the loss of a single life.
Meanwhile, events of some importance had transpired at Washington. The governorship of Utah, after being refused by several persons, was accepted in July by Alfred Cumming, who had recently been superintendent of Indian affairs on the upper Missouri, in which capacity he had displayed tact and executive ability. About the same time D. R. Eckles was appointed chief justice, and John Cradlebaugh and Charles E. Sinclair, associate judges.
During the month of June, also, a contract granted to Hiram Kimball, for the carriage of the United
States mails between Salt Lake City and Independence, Missouri, was annulled, ostensibly on account of their non-arrival within the stipulated time.38 Between 1851 and 1856 the service had been regularly performed, the contract being held in the autumn of 1856 by the gentile firm of Hockaday & Megraw,39 the latter
38In a distorted sketch of the Utah expedition, in the Atlantic Monthly, March 1859, p. 367, the writer gives, as the actual reason, that the postmaster believed the malls to have been tampered with, by order of Brigham Young, at S. L. City or en route. It is improbable that Brigham would take such risks, for, as we shall see, he now proposed to establish an express company in connection with the mails.
39During the winter of 1856-7 no regular mail service was performed, on account of the severity of the season. The postmaster at S. L. City contracted, however, with Messrs Little and Hanks to carry a mail to Independence for $1,500. They made the trip in 78 days, having suffered severely from cold and hunger. Little's Mail Service, MS., 35-8. Mr Little had been for several years connected with the mail service. In 1850 Sam. H. Woodson of Independence, Mo., made a contract with the U.S. P.O. department to carry a monthly mail for four years between that point and S. L. City. This was the first government mail service performed between S. L. City and any point east of the Rocky Mountains. Mr Little afterward contracted with Woodson to carry the mail between S. L. City and Fort Laramie, where the mails exchanged, commencing the service Aug. 1, 1851, and associating with himself Ephraim K. Hanks and Charles F. Decker. At that time there was no settlement between S. L. City and Fort Laramie, except the trading post at Fort Bridger. On their first trip Little and Hanks met Secretary Harris and judges Brocchus and Brandebury between Green River and South Pass. They reached Laramie in nine days without changing their animals, and there procured five unbroken Mexican mules, with which they completed their journey. In Sept. 185l C. F. Decker and Alfred Higgins set out in charge of a mail, Delegate Bernhisel being a passenger. At Box Elder Creek their party was stopped by 20 Indians, who plundered the wagon. On Oct. l, 1851, Mr Little started on a second trip eastward, among his passengers being Judge Brandebury, and among his fellow-travellers Judge Brocchus. Mr Little's third trip was made in Nov. and Dec. 1852, Howard Livingstone, of the firm of Livingstone & Kinkead, being one of his passengers. In Feb. 1852 and May 1853 Mr Decker carried the mails to Laramie, having a narrow escape from death at the hands of hostile Indians on his second trip, on which occasion he met with Kit Carson, to whose intercession he ascribes his deliverance. Another trip was made by Mr Little in April 1853. Id., 1-34; Utah Early Records, MS., passim. For further particulars on mail routes and services up to 1856, see U. S. Acts and Resol., 31st Cong. 1st Sess., 111; H. Ex. Doc., 1, pt 3, 33d Cong. 1st Sess., pt iii. p. 821; Burton's City of the Saints, 5; Frontier Guardian, March 7, 1849, Apr. 17, 1850; Deseret News, Apr. 8, 1851, Dec. 25, 1852, May 14, 1853; Fisher's Amer. Star. Annual, 1854, pp. 127-8; Sac. Union, Apr. 18, 1855. In the Mail Service across the Plains, by F. Little, MS. (S. L. City, 1884), are many incidents of travel during the years of which his manuscript treats. The service was performed under great difficulties, the author suffering many hardships and having several narrow escapes from Indians. Ferez-more Little, a native of Cayuga co., N. Y., came to S. L. City in 1850, and joined the Mormon church in 1853. In 1854-5 he superintended the construction of the Big Cottonwood cañon wagon road and the building of the penitentiary. In 1868-9 he was engaged in railroad work on the Union Pacific, and afterward became interested, as we shall see later, in the Utah Central and Utah Southern railroads.
of whom, when it was awarded to a Mormon, addressed a malignant epistle to the president. I have no doubt," he declares, "that the time is near at hand and the elements rapidly combining to bring about a state of affairs which will result in indiscriminate bloodshed, robbery, and rapine, and which, in a brief space of time, will reduce that country to the condition of a howling wilderness." The remainder of Magraw's communication,40 though containing no specific charges, is in a similar vein.
This despatch was probably the actual reason that led to the withdrawal of the mail contract, and certainly among the reasons that led to the Utah war; for in answer to a resolution asking for details as to the cause of the expedition, the secretary of state reported that the only document on record or on file in his department was the letter of Mr Magraw to the president.41
The annual payment on account of Hiram Kimball's contract amounted only to $23,600 a year, a sum barely sufficient to defray expenses; but such a favor, small as it was, had never before been conferred on a Mormon citizen. Brigham resolved, therefore, that all diligence should be used in keeping faith with the government, and for his own benefit established in connection with the mail service the B. Y. Express Carrying Company. In the early spring of 1857 the snow was still deep on plain and mountain, and to build stations and provide draught animals, and forage for the entire distance of more than twelve hundred miles was no easy task. But Brigham had at his call the entire community. Summoning the more enterprising of the brethren, he laid before them his plan, convinced them that the B. Y. Express would develop
40See Utah Notes, MS.; Hist. B. Young, MS.; House Ex. Doc., 35th Cong. 1st Sess., x. no. 71, pp. 2-3.
41Id., pp. 1-2. In doc. no. 71 are the reports of the secretary of state, of war, and of the interior, and also that of the attorney-general, relating to the expedition. Reference is frequently made to them in this and the following chapter.
into a good money-making enterprise, and would place Utah in frequent intercourse with the world long before an overland railroad could be completed. Moreover, it was proposed that Mormon settlements should be formed along the line of route, and parties were at once organized and equipped for this purpose.42
On the 2d of June, 1857, Abraham O. Smoot, then mayor of Salt Lake City,43 set out in charge of the eastward-bound mail and of the B. Y. Express. Between Fort Laramie and Fort Kearny he encountered the advanced guard of the army of Utah, and, as he relates, was informed by the commanding officer that the troops "were reconnoitring the country in search of hostile Indians." When about a hundred miles west of Independence freight teams were met, destined, as the drivers said, for some western post, but for what particular post they did not know. On reaching Kansas City, Smoot repaired with one Nicholas Groesbeck, who took charge of the mails at that point, to the office of William H. Russell, and there
42Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 345-6; Hist. B. Young, MS.; Little's Mail Service, MS.
43As successor to Grant, who died Dec. 1, 1856. Smith's Rise, Progress, and Travels, 27; Deseret News, Dec. 3, 1856. Jedediah Morgan Grant was native of Windsor, Broome co., N.Y., his parents, Joshua and Athalia Grant, née Howard, removing to Naples, Ontario co., in 1817, about a year after his birth. Here the lad remained until he was 14 years of ago, and receiving little education, was trained to his father's calling, that of a farmer. The family then removed to Erie co., Penn., and two years later Jedediah heard for the first time the doctrines of Mormonism. Being convinced of their truth, he was baptized in 1832, by Elder John F. Boyington, who afterward became an apostle, and, when 18 years of age, accompanied Zion's camp in its migration to Missouri. In the winter of 1835 he was ordained, at Kirtland, a member of the first quorum of seventy, and the following spring started forth on his first mission, his labors as a missionary extending over eleven years, principally in the southern and middle states. At the expulsion from Nauvoo, he was was one of those who crossed the Mississippi in Feb. 1846, and though not a pioneer, was among the earliest settlers in the valley of Great Salt Lake, being one of the captains of hundreds appointed during the migration of 1847. After holding office under the provisional government of the state of Deseret, he was elected speaker of the house of representatives; he was also appointed brigadier-general and afterward major-general in the Nauvoo legion, and in April 1854, after the decease of Willard Richards, was made second councillor to Brigham. In the funeral sermon of this much esteemed citizen, delivered at the tabernacle Dec. 4, 1856, Brigham remarked: 'He has been in the church upwards of twenty-four years, and was a man that would live, comparatively speaking, a hundred years in that time.' Id., Dec. 10, 1856; Linforth's Route from Liverpool, 115-16; S. L. City Contributor, iv. 241-5, 281-3.
ascertained that the freight trains were intended for Salt Lake City, that Cumming had been appointed governor, and that orders had been given that no more mails should for the present be delivered to the Mormons. Harnessing his fleetest animals to a light spring wagon, Smoot immediately started homeward, and making the distance from Fort Laramie in about five days, found the brethren celebrating their pioneer anniversary at Little Cottonwood Cañon.44
Thus, in part through the stubbornness of the Mormons, but in part also through the malice of a dissolute and iniquitous judge, the spite of a disappointed mail contractor, the wire-pulling of birds of prey at Washington, and possibly in accordance with the policy of the president, who, until the confederate flag had been unfurled at Fort Sumter, retained in the valley of Great Salt Lake nearly all the available forces in the Union army and a store of munitions of war sufficient to furnish an arsenal, was brought about the Utah war.
"Give us ten years of peace, and we will ask no odds of the United States," declared Brigham when the pioneers first entered the valley. And now the ten years had passed, and on the margin of a mountain lake, seven thousand feet above sea-level, under bowers of fragrant pine and fir, twenty-five hundred of the saints were assembled on the 24th of July, 1857. It was a day of feasting and recreation. Hand in hand with little children, who had seen nothing of the great world beyond their native valley, walked silver-haired elders and apostles, who had passed through all the tribulations of Kirtland and Nauvoo. Of the rest, some were strolling among the trees, some were fishing in the lake, some were dancing, some busied with games. Laughter and the noise of merry-making mingled with the songs of Zion. It was now near even-fall, and the western sun had already crimsoned the frosted peaks, when two dust-stained messengers
44Letter of A. O. Smoot.
rode in hot haste up the cañon, and announced to the brethren the approach of the army of Utah.
All eyes turned at once to Brigham. It was at times like the present, when the hearts of the others sank within them, that his genius rose superior to all obstacles, proving him the born leader that all acknowledged him to be. Gathering the people around him, he repeated the words uttered ten years before, prophesying even now that at no distant day he would himself become president of the United States, or dictate who should be president. Then festivities were renewed, and when the day was far spent the people returned to their homes with trust in Brigham and the God of Joseph.
Then war became the universal theme. Fire-arms were manufactured or repaired; scythes were turned into bayonets; long-unused sabres were burnished and sharpened, and from all parts of the earth the saints were summoned to the defence of Zion. Apostles Lyman and Rich, who were in charge of the saints at San Bernardino, and Orson Hyde, who, as we shall see, had founded a thriving colony in Carson Valley, were ordered to break up their settlements and gather to the defence of Zion. Messengers were sent to the Atlantic states and to Europe to summon home the elders and apostles,45 and, had it been possible, thousands of converts from all parts of the world would have rallied this year round the standard of the prophet.
On the 8th of September Captain Van Vliet arrived in Salt Lake City,46 with orders to purchase forage and lumber, and to assure the Mormons that
45The elders returning from Europe landed as secretly as possible in New York, fearing that they would be molested by the authorities, and most of them journeyed to Utah overland by various routes. The apostles crossed the Atlantic incognito, and remaining there in disguise until the steamer sailed for Panama, travelled by way of San Francisco and southern California, accompanied by a small body-guard of elders. Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 354-5.
46According to special instructions, dated army headquarters, Fort Leavenworth, July 28, 1857. See Van Vliet's rept to the acting assistant adj.-general army of Utah, in H. Ex. Doc., 35th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. pt 2, p. 25.
the troops would not molest or interfere with them. Though informed by parties whom he met en route that he would not be allowed to enter the territory, or would do so at the risk of his life, the captain met with a cordial reception. Brigham, Wells, Bernhisel, and other leading citizens called at his quarters on the evening of his arrival, and a formal interview was appointed for the following day47 at the social hall, when Van Vliet was introduced to a large number of prominent Mormons, presented to Brigham an official letter from Harney, and declared the purpose of his mission. The governor and the captain then retired with a few others to a private office, where a conversation took place, from which I give a few extracts that may be of interest to the reader.
"We do not want to fight the United States," remarked Brigham, "but if they drive us to it, we shall do the best we can; and I will tell you, as the Lord lives, we shall come off conquerors. The United States are sending their armies here to simply hold us until a mob can come and butcher us, as has been done before. We are the supporters of the constitution of the United States, and we love that constitution and respect the laws of the United States; but it is by the corrupt administration of those laws that we are made to suffer. Most of the government officers who have been sent here have taken no interest in us, but on the contrary, have tried many times to destroy us."
"This is the case with most men sent to the territories," Van Vliet replied. "They receive their offices as a political reward, or as a stepping-stone to the senatorship; but they have no interest in common with the people. The greatest hold that the government now has upon you is in the accusation that you have burned the United States records."
47In his Life of Brigham Young, 262, Tullidge gives Aug. 12th, and in his Hist. Salt Lake City, 161, Sept. 12th, as the date of Van Vliet's first formal interview with Brigham. The correct date is Sept. 9th. See Deseret News, Sept. 16, 1857, where is a description of the captain's visit.
"I deny that any books of the United States have been burned," said Brigham. "I have broken no law; and under the present state of affairs, I will not suffer myself to be taken by any United States officer to be killed as they killed Joseph Smith."
"I do not think it is the intention of the government to arrest you," said Van Vliet, "but to install a new governor in the territory."
"I believe you tell the truth," returned Brigham, "that you believe thisbut you do not know their intentions as well as I do. If they dare to force the issue, I shall not hold the Indians by the wrist any longer for white men to shoot at them; they shall go ahead and do as they please. If the issue comes, you may tell the government to stop all emigration across the continent, for the Indians will kill all who attempt it. And if an army succeeds in penetrating this valley, tell the government to see that it has forage and provisions in store, for they will find here only a charred and barren waste. We have plenty here of what you want, but we will sell you nothing. Further than this, your army shall not enter this valley."48
In vain Van Vliet remonstrated, stating that though the mountain passes might be defended against the small army then approaching Utah, a force would surely be sent, during the following year, that would overcome all opposition. To this warning, several times repeated, but one answer was returned: "We are aware that such will be the case; but when these troops arrive they will find Utah a desert; every house will be burned to the ground, every tree cut down, and every field laid waste. We have three years' provisions on hand, which we will cache, and then take
48Woodruff's Journal, MS., in which were originally noted the words spoken a few hours after the interview took place. There is little doubt that, so far as I have quoted them, they are substantially true. In his report, ut supra, Van Vliet says that at this and other interviews Brigham declared that 'the Mormons had been persecuted, murdered, and robbed in Missouri and Illinois, both by the mob and state authorities, and that now the U.S. were about to pursue the same course; and that, therefore, he and the people of Utah had determined to resist all persecution at the commencement.'
to the mountains and bid defiance to all the powers of the government."
During the captain's visit, Brigham, with the apostles, General Wells of the Nauvoo legion, and others, asked him to walk through their grounds, and introducing him to some of the Mormon women, showed him the garden-spots which their hands had fashioned out of the wilderness. "What, madam," he exclaimed to one of the sisters, "would you consent to see this beautiful home in ashes and this fruitful orchard destroyed?" "I would not only consent to it," was the answer, "but I would set fire to my home with my own hands, and cut down every tree, and root up every plant." On the following sabbath the captain attended divine service at the tabernacle, when John Taylor, after referring in his discourse to the approach of the troops, and repeating that they should not be allowed to enter the territory, desired all who would apply the torch to their dwellings, cut down their trees, and lay waste their farms to raise their hands. Every hand was raised in a congregation numbering more than four thousand. "When the time comes to burn and lay waste our improvements," said Brigham in a sermon delivered on the same day, "if any man undertakes to shield his he will be treated as a traitor. Now the faint-hearted can go in peace; but should that time come, they must not interfere. Before I will again suffer, as I have in times gone by, there shall not one building, nor one foot of lumber, nor a fence, nor a tree, nor a particle of grass or hay, that will burn, be left in reach of our enemies. I am sworn, if driven to extremity, to utterly lay waste this land in the name of Israel's God, and our enemies shall find it as barren as when we came here."
Captain Van Vliet was astounded. He had expected to find a seditious and priest-ridden community, mouth-valiant and few in number, whom the mere approach of the troops would tame into submission. He found instead this handful of enthusiasts,
rising against the might of a great nation. He declared, as the Mormons relate, that if the United States made war on them, he would withdraw from the army. Quitting Salt Lake City a few days afterward, he arrived at Washington in November, and delivered his report to the secretary of war.49
On the day after the captain's departure, Brigham issued a proclamation declaring martial law in Utah, forbidding all armed forces to enter the territory under any pretence whatever, and ordering the Mormon militia to be in readiness to march at a moment's notice.50 It is probable that the Nauvoo legion, which now included the entire militia force of the territory, mustered at this date from four to five thousand men.51 Though imperfectly armed and equipped, and of course no match for regular troops, they were not to be held in contempt. In July 1857 the legion had been reorganized, the two cohorts, now termed divisions, having each a nominal strength of two thousand. The divisions consisted of two brigades, the brigades of two regiments, the regiments of five battalions, each of a hundred men,52 the battalion being divided into companies of fifty, and the companies into platoons of ten. Each platoon was in charge of a lieutenant, whose duty it was carefully to inspect the
49A copy of it will be found in House Ex. Doc., 351h Cong. 1st Sess., ii. pt 2, pp. 24-7, 37-8. It contains no specific statements not already made, except that Brigham's only objection to the troops entering Utah was that in doing so they would open the door for the rabble of the western frontier, which, as in former days, would persecute and annoy the saints. Copies of the correspondence between Van Vliet and Brigham as to the purchase of forage and lumber for army use will be found in Id., 35-7.
50For copies of the proclamation, dated Sept. 15, 1851, and comments thereon, see Id., 32-3; Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 358-9; Hist. B. Young, MS.; Waite's The Mormon Prophet, 43-5; Tucker's Mormonism, 232-7; S. F. Alta, Nov. 25, 30, 1857; S. F. Herald, Nov. 25, 1857; Sac. Daily Union, Nov. 25, 1857.
51In a report of the secretary of war, in Sen. Doc., 33d Cong. 2d Sess., vt. no. 33, the strength of the Utah militia in 1854 is given at 1,744 infantry and 1,004 cavalry, or a total of 2,748 men. In this return it is stated that they had no ordnance except one howitzer, and no ordnance stores; but, as we have seen, some of their forts were mounted with cannon. Brigham, in his message of Dec. 11, 1854, in Utah, Jour. Legisl., 1854-5, anticipates a considerable increase in the new enrolments. In the Oregon Argus of Feb. 13, 1858, the Mormon forces are estimated at 5,000.
52The brigades contained 1,000 and the regiments 500 men.
arms, ammunition, and accoutrements. Those who failed to provide their equipments were fined, and those who disposed of them were tried by court-martial and doubly fined. Penalties were also imposed for non-attendance at muster and drill.53 The cavalry arm was for a time abolished54 as unsuited to mountain warfare, and a corps of topographical engineers organized, together with an ordnance corps.
All able-bodied males in the territory, except those exempt by law, were liable, as we have seen, to military service, and it is probable that the Mormons could put in the field not less than seven thousand raw troops, half disciplined, indeed, but inured to hardship, and most of them excellent marksmen. If Brigham had now carried out his threat of letting loose the Indian tribes of Utah, the United States forces would have been hopelessly outnumbered. Arms and ammunition were supplied in part from San Bernardino,55 though no considerable reinforcements from southern California arrived until after the crisis was over, and those from Carson Valley did not exceed one hundred men capable of bearing arms.56
It was not, of course, the intention of the saints to encounter the army of Utah in the open field, or even behind breastworks, if it could be avoided. In order
53Utah, Acts Legisl. (ed. 1866), 190-3, where is a copy of an act, approved Jan. 15, 1857, for the organization of the militia, and of the regulations adopted six months later. The regulations were first published in the Deseret News, Apr. 1st of this year. Previous acts relating to the militia, approved in 1852, will be found in Utah, Acts Legisl. (ed. 1855), 207-22, 231-2. Daniel H. Wells remained lieutenant-general, James Ferguson was adjutant-general, and A. P. Rockwood commissary-general. The names of other officers will be found in Id. (ed. 1866), 193; Deseret News, Apr. 29, 1857. All the officers were elected except those in the engineers' and ordnance corps. Further items concerning the legion will be found in Id., July 6, 1859; S. F. Alta, Aug. 11, 1857; Or. Statesman, Oct. 20, 1857.
54By general order issued at the headquarters of the legion. A copy of it will be found in the Deseret News, July 1, 1857.
55In Hayes' Scraps, San Bernardino, i. 53, we read: 'Arms and ammunition continue to be forwarded from San Bernardino. The last mail-rider took alongin Nov. 1857500 revolvers, which passed through this city.'
56With the exception of a few persons, the Carson Mormons started for S. L. City Sept. 26, 1857, and arrived Nov. ed. They mustered about 450 persons, several being from Or. and Cal., had with them 123 wagons, and were in charge of Chester Loveland. Early Hist. Carson Valley, MS., 5.
to explain their tactics, I cannot do better than quote a few lines from a despatch addressed soon afterward by the lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo legion to Major Joseph Taylor, and signed, "your brother in Christ, Daniel H. Wells." "On ascertaining the locality or route of the troops, proceed at once to annoy them in every possible way. Use every exertion to stampede their animals and set fire to their trains. Burn the whole country before them and on their flanks. Keep them from sleeping, by night surprises; blockade the road by felling trees or destroying the river fords where you can. Watch for opportunities to set fire to the grass on their windward, so as, if possible, to envelop their trains. Leave no grass before them that can be burned. Keep your men concealed as much as possible, and guard against surprise."57
57A copy of the letter is given in Tullldge's Hist. Salt Lake City, 172. The major was captured, and the letter delivered to Assistant Adjuant-general Porter when 16 miles from Fort Bridger. In a postscript the major is ordered to 'take no life.' In Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 18-19, is a copy of a circular letter, dated S. L. City, Sept. 14, 1857, and signed by Brigham Young and Daniel H. Wells, in which a similar plan of operations is marked out. 'But save life always,' is the injunction, 'when it is possible; we do not wish to shed a drop of blood if it can be avoided.'
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