Mormon History

Mistreatment of Oregon Settlers - 1851

Oregon Spectator June 12, 1851

New Immigrants.

==> The Rev. Mr. Goodell, captain of the company who have just arrived in Oregon, numbering in all some 105 persons, gives a dreadful account of the treatment received from the Mormons at the Great Salt Lake. The people are represented as being dissolute and immoral to a shameful extent. We learn from Mr. Goodell that they have appointed missionaries for South America, California, Oregon, and numerous other countries. The object appears to be to make proselytes, with the view to join them at the Salt Lake to increase their numbers. The two missionaries appointed for Oregan, it is expected will soon arrive to enter upon the duties of their mission. We cannot think for a moment that we have men among us who will join them, after obtaining the facts about their manner of living and their pross immoralities, which outcie in paractice, the seraglios of the Turks and Persians.

The principal part of those arrived are familes. There are some 20 families among the number. They left the Salt Lake about the last of March and arrived at the Dalles of the Columbia on the 2nd May, having been 62 days on the road. -- The Oregonian learns that they practice polygamy to a great extent. Some of the prophets are represented as having as many as 60 wives; all take unto themselves as many as may please their fancy and their means will support." Think of a harem in a country belonging to the United States.

Since writing the above we have received the following from Mr. Goodell, who has promised to give us, as soon as he gets leisure, a more detailed account of the state of society, &c."

The number of our company, said he, is 105; of them 49 are men, 19 women and the rest children, included in 10 families. Being compelled to winter among the Mormons, it gave us an opportunity of becoming acquainted with their manners and customs. Concubinage, polygamy, and incest, are common among them. It is not at all uncommon for a man to take for his wives a mother and a daughter at the same time. Polygamy is publicly advocated by the leaders. Brigham Young, according to the testimony of the Mormons themselves, has over 80 wives.

Between 600 and 1000 persons, immigrants, wintered in the Salt Lake valley -- most of them were bound for California. They all suffered more or less of injustice and wrongs from the Mormons. The liberty of speech was denied them. Their lives were threatened by the heads of the church, if they said aught against the religion or practices of the Mormons. The most unjust measures were resorted to to rob the immigrants of their money. One man ventured to say "that if a man in the States had as many wives as Young, he would be called a wicked man," was immediately arrested and fined $50 and costs.

To cap the climax, an unjust and cruel tax was imposed upon them. After they had left their settelement, they were followed 60 miles from their city by teh State Marshal, with power to assess their property and collect tax at the same time -- authorized to seize their teams if the tex was not promptly paid. This tax was 2 per cent. on every kind of property they possessed -- even to the beds -- valued at the prices put upon such property in Salt lake valley. The immigrants had to pay from $15, up to as high as $50 and $60 each. This, considering the circumstances in which they were placed, they felt severely.

The Mormons are opposed to the Government of the United States -- speak against it publicly and privately, and predict its overthrow....