Mormon History

Charges Against Brigham Young - 1851

Saint Joseph Gazette December 31, 1851

BEAUTIES OF MORMONISM. -- A correspondence of the Rochester Daily Advertiser has been going the rounds of the papers for some time, but, although rather old, it may contain matter new to some of our readers and worthy of a moment's condideration. It is dated Danville, Ill., and contains serious charges against Brigham Young, the Great High Priest of the Mormons and Governor of the Territory of Utah. The charges are as follows:

  1. That he has over twenty women in concubinage, called by him his wives.

  2. That he is a swindler.

  3. That he is a murderer.

  4. That he is a reviler of our people and government.

  5. That he abused, maltreated and took by force and tried, under the semblance of law, Mormon law, the property of our emigrants in 1849-'50.

  6. That he instigated the Indians to follow and attack the company from Schuyler Co., Illinois. They did attack them, and ran and killed their cattle and horses.

  7. That he caused our citizens to be taken up and tried for the pretended participancy in the death of Jo Smith and others -- to be threatened and harrassed for being engaged against the Mormons in Missouri.

  8. That he made speeches abusing our laws and government, and bidding defiance to the United States, and asserting that the Mormons were not under our laws.

  9. That he asserted jurisdiction to try causes between our citizens on [contracts] made in the United States, and one party protesting against his authority; yet he compelled them to give up their property, under the threat of imprisonment.

  10. That he levied taxes on our people for bringing goods into the Mormon settlement and exchanging them for others to aid them in reaching California.

  11. That he has passed an ordinance or decree, as they (these brutes) call it, "that all young women over 14 remaining unmarried, shall be spiritualized by the elders.

  12. That a Mormon can have as many concubines or wives, as they call them, as he can support.

These can be proved, and some more I do not wish to name now. But there is another which is made against them, I only report from current report. It is that Mr. B. Young is intimate with several thieving Indian chiefs that follow the trade of going every year to Lower California and stealing horses. At any rate, California horses were sold to emigrants in 1849 and 1850 by Mormons, and the people of South California can hardly keep their horses at all -- for this fact I appeal to Mr. Foster, Mr. Stearns, the last member of the legislature from Los Angeles, and to Colonel Williams, all living in South California. -- One thing is certain -- the horses are stolen in South California and California horses are sold at Salt Lake by the outlawed set to our emigrants at great prices. I was in South California, and heard from these men of many more of their horses being stolen by these Utah Indians. Put that and this together, and where and how did these Mormons come by these horses? Why is Young so intimate with these depredating chiefs?

The accounts from the Mormon district have been so contradictory that until quite recently we have found it difficult what to believe and what not to believe. We have read letters and lectures written by persons, some of whom traveled with the Mormons from Nauvoo to Deseret, while others have tarried with them at Salt Lake for months, and even years, and all these letters have spoken in the highest terms of the industry, sincerity and morality of this modern religious sect. We have also read others denouncing them in the strongest terms and accusing them of almost all sorts of vice and crime, as does the writer of the letter from which we extract the above. Almost all the arrivals from Utah bring something confirmatory of the charges here preferred. We have therefore come to the conclusion, as we do not wish to accuse any one of wilful mistatement, that the Mormons, when they first made their settlement on the Salt Lake, were inclined to be kind and humane to emigrants. They knew what it was to suffer, and therefore were ready to sympathize with the jaded wanderer; they still retained a fond remembrance of their former home and the friends they had left behind, and consequently received the stranger with open arms, in the hope that they might gain from him some information in regard to the scenes and loved ones that for them now exist only in memory.

But these remembrances have gradually worn away, prosperity unhoped for has smiled upon their efforts, and a spirit of insolence and revenge has dissipated the nobler feelings that filled their breasts in the hour of affliction. Isolated as they are, they feel independent and secure from all molestation. There is now method in their humanity. If they think more can be made by treating their guests kindly, then they effect the lamb; if the reverse, then they can play the wolf to perfection. Their leaders are keen observing men, and have neglected no means to secure the awe and reverence of their enthusiastic dupes. All their religious appliance are brought to bear upon their followers to stimulate them to unheard of and unparalleled exertions and sacrifice to build and strengthen the city, until leaders and followers have come to look upon it as impregnable -- a kind of Gibraltar. So it only needed a slight acknowledgement of their importance by our government to make them as overbearing and meddlesome as the Russian autocrat. -- This acknowledgement they fancied they had received in the appointment of Brigham Young as Governor of Utah. The rebellion is only in its infancy now; and unless instantly and thoroughly put down, we will not attempt to predict to what results it may lead. If the accounts can be relied on, we think the ounce of prevention is at this moment imminently necessary.

(Webmaster note: Mormon Harry Reid would have made a great 19th century anti-Mormon)

Bill Number: S. 3313 (IS)
Bill Title: Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008 (Introduced in Senate)
Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry   View all legislation sponsored by this member.
Introduced: 2008/07/23
Latest Major Action: 2008/07/23 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Notes: There are no notes for this Bill

S 3313 IS


2d Session

S. 3313

To establish a Federal Polygamy Task Force, to authorize assistance for victims of polygamy, and for other purposes.


July 23, 2008

Mr. REID introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To establish a Federal Polygamy Task Force, to authorize assistance for victims of polygamy, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008'.


Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Despite the fact that polygamy has been illegal in the United States for over 100 years, the practice of polygamy involving underage marriages is growing. Sizable polygamist communities exist in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and are expanding into other States.

(2) Polygamist communities are typically controlled by organizations that engage in widespread and systematic violations of State laws and the laws of the United States in order to enrich their leaders and maintain control over their members.

(3) The crimes perpetrated by these organizations include child abuse, domestic violence, welfare fraud, tax evasion, public corruption, witness tampering, and transporting victims across State lines.

(4) Due to the systematic and sophisticated nature of these crimes, State and local law enforcement agencies would benefit from the assistance of the Federal Government as they investigate and prosecute these organizations and their leaders for violations of State law. In addition, violations of Federal law associated with polygamy should be investigated and prosecuted directly by Federal authorities.

(5) The work of State and Federal law enforcement agencies to combat crimes by polygamist organizations would benefit from enhanced collaboration and information-sharing among such agencies.

(6) The establishment of a task force within the Department of Justice to coordinate Federal efforts and collaborate with State agencies would aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activities of polygamist organizations in both Federal and State courts.

(7) Polygamist organizations isolate, control, manipulate, and threaten victims with retribution should they ever abandon the organization. Individuals who choose to testify against polygamist organizations in Federal or State court have unique needs, including social services and witness protection support, that warrant Federal assistance.


(a) Establishment- There is established within the Department of Justice a Federal Polygamy Task Force, which shall consist of the Deputy Attorney General, the United States attorneys from affected Federal judicial districts, representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and any officer of the Federal Government whom the Deputy Attorney General considers necessary to strengthen Federal law enforcement activities and provide State and local law enforcement officials the assistance they need to address the illegal activity of one or more polygamist organizations.

(b) Purposes- The Federal Polygamy Task Force established under subsection (a) shall--

(1) formulate effective responses to the unique set of crimes committed by polygamist organizations;

(2) establish partnerships with State and local law enforcement agencies to share relevant information and strengthen State and Federal efforts to combat crimes perpetrated by polygamist organizations;

(3) assist States by providing strategies and support for the protection of witnesses;

(4) track the criminal behavior of polygamist organizations that cross State and international borders; and

(5) ensure that local officials charged with protecting the public are not corrupted because of financial, family, or membership ties to a polygamist organization.


The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (42 U.S.C. 10601 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 1404E the following:


`(a) In General- The Director may make grants as provided in section 1404(c)(1)(A) to State, tribal, and local prosecutors' offices, law enforcement agencies, courts, jails, and correctional institutions, and to qualified public and private entities, to develop, establish, and maintain programs for the enforcement of rights and provision of social services (including witness protection, housing, education, vocational training, mental health services, child care, and medical treatment) for an individual who is exploited or otherwise victimized by practitioners of polygamy.

`(b) Authorization of Appropriations- In addition to funds made available under section 1402(d), there are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section--

`(1) $2,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and

`(2) $2,500,000 for each of the fiscal years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

`(c) False Claims Act- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, amounts collected pursuant to sections 3729 through 3731 of title 31, United States Code (commonly known as the `False Claims Act'), may be used for grants under this section, subject to appropriation.'.


Section 506(a) of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3756(a)) is amended--

(1) in paragraph (1), by striking `and' at the end;

(2) in paragraph (2), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and'; and

(3) by adding at the end the following:

`(3) $2,000,000, to be granted by the Attorney General to States and units of local government to investigate and prosecute polygamist organizations that violate Federal, State, or local laws.'.