The domestic habits of the people vary greatly according to their nativity. Of the forty-five thousand inhabitants of the Territory, at least one-half are immigrants from England and Wales, — the scum of the manufacturing towns and mining districts, so superstitious as to have been capable of imbibing the Mormon faith, — though between what is preached in Great Britain and what is practised in America there exists a wide difference, — and so destitute in circumstances as to have been incapable of deteriorating their fortunes by emigration. Possibly one-fifth are Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians. This allows a remainder of three-tenths for the native American element. An Irishman or a German is rarely found. Of the Americans, by far the greater proportion were born in the Northeastern States; and the three principal characters in the history of the Church—Smith, Young, and Kimball—all originated in Vermont, but were reared in Western New York, a region which has been the hot-bed of American isms from the discovery of the Golden Bible to the outbreak of the Rochester rappings. This American element maintains, in all affairs of the Church, its natural political ascendency. Of the twelve Apostles only one is a foreigner, and among the rest of the ecclesiastical dignitaries the proportion is not very different.
The Scandinavian Mormons are very clannish in their disposition. They occupy some settlements exclusively, and in Salt Lake City there is one quarter tenanted wholly by them, and nicknamed “Denmark,” just as that portion of Cincinnati monopolized by Germans is known as over the Rhine. Like their English and Welsh associates, they belonged to the lowest classes of the mechanics and peasantry of their native countries. They are all clownish and brutal. Their women work in the fields. In their houses and gardens there is no symptom of taste, or of the recollection of former and more innocent days; while in every cottage owned by Americans there is visible, at least, a clock, or a pair of China vases, or a rude picture, which once held a similar position in some farm-house in New England.
It is not intended to discuss here the cardinal points of the Mormon faith, for the subject is too extensive for the limits of this article. A great misapprehension, however, prevails concerning polygamy, that it was one of the original doctrines of the Church. On the contrary, it was expressly prohibited in the Book of Mormon, which declares: —
“Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. … Wherefore hearken to the word of the Lord: There shall not any man among you have save it be one wife, and concubines he shall have none; for I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women.” — p. 118.
Up to this date, there have been four eras in the history of polygamy among the Mormons: the first, from about 1833 to 1843, during which it was practised stealthily only by those Church leaders to whom it was considered prudent to impart the secret; the second, from 1843 to 1852, during which its existence was known to the Church, but denied to the world; the third, from 1852 to 1856, during which it was left to the discretion of individuals whether to adopt its practice or not; and the fourth, since 1856, when its acceptance was inculcated as essential to happiness in this world and salvation in the next. It was the inevitable tendency of Mormonism, like every other religious delusion, from the advent of John of Leyden to that of the Spiritualists, to disturb the natural relation of the sexes under the Christian dispensation. The mystery surrounding the subject constituted the most attractive charm of the religion, both to the initiated and to those who were seeking to be admitted to the secrets of the Endowment, — for the Endowed alone possess the privilege of a plurality of wives. But until the community had become firmly fixed in Utah, no one dared to justify or even to proclaim the doctrine. At the time of the passage of the Organic Act of the Territory, in the autumn of 1850, and repeatedly during the next two years, prominent Mormons at Washington and New York denied its existence, with the most solemn asseverations. It was on Sunday, August 29th, 1852, that it was openly avowed at Salt Lake City, — Brigham Young on that day producing the copy of a revelation, pretended to have been received by Smith on the 12th of July, 1843, which annulled the monogamic injunctions of the Book of Mormon, and stating, that, although the doctrine of polygamy has not been preached by the elders, the people have believed in it for years. Upon the same occasion, another doctrine was urged, — that human beings upon earth propagate merely bodies, the souls which inhabit them being begotten by spirits in heaven.