Mormon History

Mistreatment of Major Singer - 1851

Saint Joseph Gazette September 10, 1851

ABOUT THE MORMONS. -- The following extract of a letter, which was handed to us by a friend, describes a most deplorable state of things at Salt Lake -- so much so, that it might be difficult to believe some portions of the account, were it not for the unimpeachable character of the gentleman who penned it. He is well known to nearly all of our citizens as the occupant of a respectable station in the United States Army. Considering the writer, and the circumstances under which the letter was written, we are not permitted even to suppose that its statements are exaggerated. We omit some passages which treat of domestic relations among the Mormons and the horrid licentiousness which prevails in them, not because we discreit them, but because [we] would not shock the sensibilities of our readers with the repulsive picture they present.

The portions which refer to the expressions and doings of Governor Young, are worthy of especial attention. We repeat that the letter is from a wholly reliable gentleman who resides in this city, and bears date: -- St. Louis Intelligencer.

                          Carson Valley, East Sierra de Nevada,
                          En Route for California, May 21, 1851.
Dear Sir -- My fine and favorite horse is gone -- and but two yoke and a half of cattle were all I had to leave Salt Lake with. When at that sink of perdition it was my expectation to write you and others of our friends, as we wished to write by the first safe private opportunity that would offer itself; but none such having been presented, our expectation of course was not gratified. It is true, I wrote to D. and M., but then I was constrained by the practice of the Mormons to destroy letters containing any thing against themselves, from communicating aught in relation to my own or the grievances of other [visitors]. Now that my family is out of their power, I may venture to speak of that [accursed] and pestilential people. And would to God that I could make myself be heard throughout my country and impress my countrymen the truth in relation to Mormonism, vile, criminal and treasonable as it insolently displays itself in the boasted security of its mountain-walled home. But no -- no one would be believed were he to communicate the truth concerning the Mormons. Truly, were an angel from heaven to tell you of the wicked practices and the base, unprovoked crimes of this people, you would discredit the report. Such is the enormity of their conduct, that in a series of resolutions drawn up by a Presbyterian clergyman, and signed by the emigrants, 'the truth, and the whole truth' was designedly avoided, lest it would be too shocking for belief.

It is hazarding nothing in saying that never, by savage horde or lawless banditti, was there exhibited such base turpitude of heart and such indiscriminate vindictiveness of purpose, as are to be seen in the conduct of the Mormons of Salt Lake Valley. With them. human feeling has been debased to worse than beastly passion and instinct, and then all sympathy is consumed by, or absorbed in lust, while sentiment there finds its lowest degree of degradation. There is no crime but has its full, free justification there, if perpetrated against a Gentile, as they term those who are not Mormons. No matter how good a man's character may be before he becomes a Mormon, and makes common fellowship with them, after he is fairly inducted he is soon made to yield the most guilty obedience to the decrees or orders of the Twelve. All are thus rendered ready and prompt instruments in the perpetration of crime. I had supposed that, like other religious societies, there were sincere persons among them, who, [believing] in justice and virtuous principles could not be made the guilty agents of crime, or commit such offenses as had frequently been charged against them; but from what I have seen and heard, I am firm in the belief that the best of them will not [hesitate] to perform the worst bidding of Brigham Young, their 'Man of God.' Yes, his voice is to them more omnipotent than the voice of God to the Christian. Let but a Gentile incur his displeasure, or that of the Twelve, and soon his bloodhounds, the Danites, are scouring the country in search of their prey; and wo to the Gentile who is known to give the doomed victim protection or assistance. Far different is it when emigrants first enter the valley -- then all is kindness and good feeling; but no sooner does winter lock them in, than the hitherto suppressed volcano of their hate and prejudice against American citizens burst forth. Then property is seized and confiscated, the owners thereof deprived of their liberty, loaded like the worst of felons with balls and chains, without the form of a trial, and in most cases without even any known accusation. Many emigrants beside myself heard Brigham Young from the stand declare the most treasonable hostilities against the U. States. He denied the right of jurisdiction on the part of our government, and pledged himself that if a Governor came there and attempted its extension, he would resist it to death! The right of Governorship undisturbed by the authority of the United States, he claimed as vested in himself for life. "Yes," to use his own words, "that was about the time I was elected for." To the citizens, he would say he was not amenable to their government and said, "now as when at Nauvoo, that he defied the combined powers of the United States and all hell." Those of us who were known to speak against Mormonism or abuse the Mormons, he ordered should have their throats cut. To employ his own phraseology, he said, "Yes, cut their damned throats; if you do not I'll send the boys that will; and if they don't, I'll come myself and I'll cut their damned throats; I will slay them, by the spirit of Almighty God!"

From that moment the emigrants became the predestined and proscribed objects of Mormon vengeance. A report was started that I was a reporter for government, and soon my property was seized and myself arrested, and subjected to the insults of one of their prostituted functionaries, without any cause for prosecution, or any charge to plead against. Shortly after five head of my cattle were shot, and I was selected a subject to be salted down in their lake. Five of their assassins took upon themselves the pleasing duty; but I entertained no fear of them; on the contrary, I came out and declared my defiance of them. My whole solicitude was for my family, and every exertion was directed toward getting it out of the valley. Being composed mostly of females, I had just cause to fear that if deprived of a protector, it would never be permitted to leave that sink of perdition -- for no intelligence against Mormonism is permitted to be mailed. Dissenting Mormons and emigrants have told me that they picked up before the post office parts of letters they had deposited to be mailed for the United States, but in which they had expressed themselves too freely for Mormons. In truth, the basest system of espionage prevails that ever was known to exist in the world.

So far as their religion is concerned, I never felt disposed to meddle with it. But it should be known that their teachings here, as they term making known their abominable practices here, are greatly at variance with the preaching of the principles of Mormonism by their missionary knaves throughout the rest of the world. *  *  *  *

In nothing do their teachings correspond with Christianity. They deny the omnipotence of God, but believe in a plurality of Gods as well as wives, and that old Brigham, part God now, will become a perfect and powerful God after his physical death.

MORMONISM. -- News from the Plains. By the emigrants who have just returned to this city across the plains, we have learned another fact which shows the disloyal and unfriendly feeling of the Mormon leaders toward the Government of the United States. Judge Brocchus, one of the Associate Justices for the territory of Utah, was accompanied on his way out by Elder Orson Hyde, who is the leader of the Mormons at Council Bluffs, and who had under his charge two pieces of cannon belonging to the Government. On the 4th of July, Judge Brocchus requested the use of the cannon, to fire a National salute near Independence Rock, in commemoration of our independence, which Orson Hyde denied him, saying that when they "reached Utah he might fire a salute." This is another of the shameful developments which are constantly being made, by the leaders of those deluded people, of hostility to the Government, the institutions, and people, of the United States, and may be set down with the constant system of oppression, robbery and outrage, to which the emigrants and other faithful people of the United States, are subjected to, by this freebooting population, which is assembling itself alarmingly upon many points along our western frontier. This same Orson Hyde is the editor of a Mormon paper published at Kanesville, and is an applicant for the office of Surveyor of public lands in the territory of Utah; before starting out he obtained a recommendation from Judge Brocchus to the General Government. We have not been in the habit of [petitioning] the present Administration, or of making any representations to it in regard to its officers, or its applicants for office, but we think the President should pause a long while before he will give countenance to this "band of moral outcasts," by placing so important a trust in the keeping of this profligate [-----er], who occupies among them the most dangerous triple position of Elder, spiritual teacher, and [editorial fugleman.]

The total number of Mormons at present in England, is over thirty thousand. In the last 14 years about 17,000 have emigrated to this country.

Note: An Intelligencer article reprinted in the Gazette of Nov. 12, 1851 identifies the writer of the May 21st letter as "Major Singer, of the U. S. Army."