The Mormons

"This Mormon Church binds its adherents with the strongest bonds known under heaven. It is at once a religion, an empire, a fraternity, a trust, and a partnership in crime."

When I left the train at Ogden, the dawn had touched the mountain snow crests with a delicate rose pink. The valley was still dark; those glowing summits hung like clouds in the sky. Then the pink turned to orange, the orange to chrome, the chrome to pale canary, and that to a crystalline white; and it was day. "What a paradise!" thought I. And with that took up a morning paper, and read in the headlines, “Po1ygamy,” and other things not to be mentioned. Oh it was saddening! The beauty of Utah is tarnished, its alpine atmosphere tainted, its moral trend vile and low. And yet, aside from the curse of plural marriage, you have here the very pearl of the Rockies: a land rich in gold and silver and lead and gleaming precious stones; marvelous in its resources for the breeding of horses and sheep; fertile of soil and varied of climate, so that farms produce wheat and potatoes in one part of the state, and almonds, figs, pomegranates, and cotton in another. Moreover, the Mormons have developed every source of industry that goes to the making of a commercially independent commonwealth. Unlike the other intermontane states, Utah possesses a complete social order, masses as well as classes, the foundations of a people as well as its proud superstructure.

In the beginning of Mormonism, Brigham Young, that extraordinary character, for daring a Cromwell, for intrigue a Machiavelli, for executive force a Moses, and for the utter absence of conscience a Bonaparte, led up his people into the wilderness. It was a veritable pilgrimage, a soultrying "move” across a trackless continent, harassed the while by savages. These wanderers trusted in Brigham Young as in their God. One hundred and fortythree persons, with seventytwo wagons, ninety-three horses, fiftytwo mules, sixtysix oxen, and nineteen cows, marched in the van. Two hundred Saints trod close in their rear. They traversed the wastes of Nebraska and Wyoming, crested the Rockies, and at last looked down upon a treeless, yellow valley. "See! " cried Brigham. "There is another Dead Sea, there another Lake of Gennesaret, and betwixt them another Jordan. This is the holy Canaan. Let us enter and possess the land." Accordingly, the Mormons halted their train, and began to establish themselves for permanent abode, a thousand miles from the borders of civilization, in what was then Mexican territory.

Their first task was the redemption of the desert. Eager hands assailed the sagebrush, and brought clown water in trenches from the mountains. The Mormons became the inventors of American irrigation. Lucern absorbed the alkali from the soil. Crops sprang up; crickets attacked the crops; and then, by a miracle, a vast flock of white sea gulls, never seen before on the lake, fell upon the crickets and devoured them all. The vale became fruitful, and soon turned .a transcontinental halfway house, or caravansary, making possible the development of California, Nevada, and Idaho. To Utah the Saints beckoned all true believers. Some came by ship round the Horn; some dragged handcarts over the prairies and mountain passes; while immense wagon trains rumbled westward, a marvel to bison and marmot.

By 1848 Brigham Young had two thousand subjects. They had named their country Deseret, "the home of the honey bee," and they styled it "a free and independent state."

Then swiftly upgrew the Mormons' intermontane principality. Farms dotted its valleys, tiny hamlets clustered amongst its gulches, roads led from village to village, and all roads led at last to the holy city where centered its theocratic government. And the capital city was Zion in truth, builded by Brigham Young "according to the pattern shown him in the mount." It "lieth foursquare." In the midst of the city, within a vast inclosure girt by stout yellow ramparts, looms the House of the Lord, four gray walls and six gray towers, their slender spires half reminiscent of lovely Peterborough, mysterious, repellent, yet fascinating, a Gregorian chant done in deathless granite. Forty years was the temple in building. Beside the Temple crouches the Tabernacle, a squat brown turtle shell set hard upon countless red pillars. Near by is another inclosure, walled like the first and buttressed with cobblestones, where tithing is taken and coin counted out, and where, in the earlier day, Brigham Young made his home, and incidentally the home of his incalculable wives. There in the highway rises the tall plinth which supports the bronze statue of Brigham himself. To the four points of the compass run the stately broad streets of the Mormon capital, lined with superb shops, adobe cottages, and occasional really magnificent houses, and shaded by never ending rows of tall, shivering Lombardy poplars, "planted by rivers water" drawn in little irrigation ditches from the melting snows of the mountains. And round about the city those naked crags leap into high heaven, blue in the crystalline lustre of the upper atmosphere, caressed by lagging cloud drifts, crested a gleaming white by the same storms that drop rain to the valley to brighten the purple asters. Such, ill a word, is Salt Lake City, the city of uncrowned Caesars and tiaraless popes, the Rome of a new and strange religion.

Go upon the Sabbath to the Tabernacle service. Sit beneath that crude white vault, look about you upon twelve thousand Mormon devotees, listen to the grotesque elucidation of Brighamite doctrine, and you will feel as if you were living five hundred years ago. Ah, but the music! you think of Il Penseros:

There let the pealing organ blow;
To the full voiced choir below,
In service high and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all heaven before my eyes.

And that is just the devil of it! The religious instinct is thus yoked with delusion, treason, and crime.

No other instance of social transplantation and metamorphosis in America is in any way comparable with this Mormon migration. Yankee traits persist throughout Greater New England; the sweep of the Pennsylvanian from state to state leaves the Pennsylvanian very little changed; the Southern tide that rolls over lower Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana is salted with the flavor of the old Confederacy; but in Utah ho astounding the transformation! Scarce had the Mormons caught their dupe when they made him over completely, giving him a degrading religion, a novel contentment with abridged liberty, and a perverted conscience which approved of plural marriage.

Let me be understood. I am not attacking Mormonism because I think it a false creed. I do so think it, but I am attacking it because it stands for treason and crime sanctioned by fabricated "revelations." The Mormon theocracy or "theodemocracy” is an utterly un-American conception. With the form of a republic, it is ideally an absolute monarchy; feigning to rest upon the consent of the governed, it exalts its president to supreme power over all believers. Said Brigham Young, “ I am God to them." And as for polygamy, though only six per cent of the married men ever had plural families, the institution was sustained by the entire church, and is so sustained in principle today. Polygamy made Utah. Abnormally increasing its population, it became the basis of imperial ambitions. The Saints would overrun the earth.

Now I gladly admit, on the other hand, one splendid result of Mormonism. Along with its strong men, it has gathered many incompetent, many unfit, some degenerate, from all countries, fired them with religious mania, attached that mania to temporal activities, and bred a spirit of tireless industry. Utah is therefore a social elevator. The penniless immigrant, where else is he half so sure of such helping hands? A bishop allots him his acres, a bishop lends him his implements, a bishop talks wisely of seeds and of harvest. Presently, this serf, or pauper, or Georgia cracker has become selfsupporting and prosperous. Nine tenths of the LatterDay Saints own their homes. Beyond a doubt, the Mormon church is, considered purely as a political economist's scheme, "today nearer to being a successful effort to inaugurate the brotherhood of man than anything ever tried."

Here, then, is a social and political force to be reckoned with. Marvelous in its power over the individual, it is rapidly becoming an actual menace to the nation. Already it numbers a million adherents. It owns Utah. It holds the balance of power in Idaho, in Wyoming, in Colorado, in California, and in Nevada. When Arizona and New Mexico are admitted to the Union, it will controI them also.

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