Mormon History

A Political Textbook by Horace Greely - 1860

A Political Text-book for 1860

Greeley, Horace, compiler


Mr. President, I will now respond to the call which has been made upon me for my opinions of the condition of things in Utah, and the appropriate remedies for existing evils.

The Territory of Utah was organized under one of the acts known as the Compromise Measures of 1850, on the supposition that the inhabitants were American citizens, owing and acknowledging allegiance to the United States, and consequently entitled to the benefits of self-government while a Territory, and to admission in the Union on an equal footing with the original States, as soon as they should number the requisite population. It was conceded on all hands, and by all parties, that the peculiarities of their religious faith and ceremonies interposed no valid and constitutional objection to their reception into the Union, in conformity with the Federal Constitution, so long as they were in all other respects entitled to admission. Hence the great political parties of the country indorsed and approved the Compromise Measures of 1850, including the act for the organization of the Territory of Utah, with the hope and in the confidence that the inhabitants would conform to the Constitution and laws, and prove themselves worthy, respectable and law-abiding citizens. If we are permitted to place credence in the rumors and reports from that country (and it must be admitted that they have increased and strengthened and assumed consistency and plausibility by each successive mail), seven years' experience has disclosed a state of facts entirely different from that which was supposed to exist when Utah was organized. These rumors and reports would seem to justify the belief that the following facts are susceptible of proof.

1. That nine-tenths of the inhabitants are aliens by birth, who have refused to become naturalized, or to take the oath of allegiance, or to do any other act recognizing the Government of the United States as the paramount authority in that Territory.

2. That all the inhabitants, whether native or alien born, known as Mormons, (and they constitute the whole people of the Territory), are bound by horrid oaths and terrible penalties, to recognize and maintain the authority of Brigham Young, and the government of which he is the head, as paramount to that of the United States, in civil as well as in religious affairs; and that they will, in due time, and under the direction of their leaders, use all means in their power to subvert the government of the United States, and resist its authority.

3. That the Mormon government, with Brigham Young at its head, is now forming alliance with Indian tribes in Utah and adjoining territories stimulating the Indians to acts of hostility and organizing bands of his own followers under the name of "Danites, or Destroying Angels," to prosecute a system of robbery and murders upon American citizens, who support the authority of the United States, and denounce the infamous and disgusting practices and institutions of the Mormon Government.

If, upon a full investigation, these representations shall prove true, they will establish the fact that the Mormon inhabitants of Utah, as a community, are out-laws and alien enemies, unfit to exercise the right of self-government under the organic act, and unworthy to be admitted into the Union as a State, when their only object in seeking admission is to interpose the sovereignty of the State, as an invincible shield to protect them in their treason and crime, debauchery and infamy. (Applause.)

Under this view of the subject, I think it is the duty of the President, as I have no doubt it is his fixed purpose to remove Brigham Young and all his followers from office, and to fill their places with bold, able, and true men, and to cause a thorough and searching investigation into all the crimes and enormities which are alleged to be perpetrated daily in that Territory, under the direction of Brigham Young and his confederates and to use all the military force necessary to protect the officers in the discharge of their duties, and to enforce the laws of the land. (Applause.)

When the authentic evidence shall arrive, if it shall establish the facts which are believed to exist, it will become the duty of Congress to apply the knife and put out this loathsome, disgusting ulcer. (Applause.) No temporizing policy no halfway measures will then answer. It has been supposed by those who have not thought deeply upon the subject, that an act of Congress prohibiting murder, robbery, polygamy, and other crimes, with appropriate penalties for those offences, would afford adequate remedies for all the enormities complained of. Suppose such a law to be on the statute book, and I believe they have a criminal code, providing the usual punishment for the entire catalogue of crimes, according to the usages of all civilized and Christian countries, with the exception of polygamy, which is practised under the sanction of the Mormon Church, but is neither prohibited nor authorized by the laws of the Territory.

Suppose, I repeat, that Congress should pass a law prescribing a criminal code, and punishing polygamy among other offences, what other effect would it have what good would it do? Would you call on twenty-three grand jurymen, with twenty-three wives each, to find a bill of indictment against a poor miserable wretch for having two wives? (Cheers and laughter.) Would you call upon twelve petit jurors, with twelve wives each, to convict the same loathsome wretch for having two wives? (Continued applause.) Would you expect a grand jury composed of twenty-three "Danites" to find a bill of indictment against a brother "Danite" for having murdered a Gentile, as they call all American citizens, under their direction? Much less would you expect a jury of twelve "destroying angels" to find another "destroying angel" guilty of the crime of murder, and cause him to be hanged for no other offence than taking the life of a Gentile? No! If there is any truth in the reports we receive from Utah, Congress may pass whatever laws it chooses; but you can never rely upon the local tribunals and juries to punish crimes committed by Mormons in that territory. Some other and more effectual remedy must be devised and applied. In my opinion, the first step should be the absolute and unconditional repeal of the organic act blotting the Territorial Government out of existence upon the ground that they are outlaws, denying their allegiance and defying the authorities of the United States. (Immense applause.)

The Territorial Government once abolished, the country would revert to its primitive condition prior to the act of 1850, "under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States," and should be placed under the operation of the act of Congress of the 30th of April, 1790, and the various acts supplemental thereto and amendatory thereof, "providing for the punishment of crimes against the United States within any fort, arsenal dockyard, magazine, OR ANY OTHER PLACE OF DISTRICT OF COUNTRY, UNDER THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE jurisdiction of the United States." All offenses against the provisions of these acts are required by law to be tried and punished by the United States Courts in the States or Territories where the offenders shall be "FIRST APPREHENDED OR BROUGHT FOR TRIAL." Thus it will be seen that under the plan proposed, BRIGHAM YOUNG and his confederates could be "apprehended and brought for trial," to Iowa or Missouri, California or Oregon, or to any other adjacent State or Territory, where a fair trial could be had, and justice administered impartially where the witnesses could be protected and the judgment of the court could be carried into execution, without violence or intimidation. I do not propose to introduce any new principles into our jurisprudence, nor to change the modes of proceeding or the rules of practice in our Courts. I only propose to place the district of country embraced within the Territory of Utah under the operation of the same laws and rules of proceeding, that Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and our other Territories were placed before they became organized Territories. The whole country embraced within these Territories was under the operation of that same system of laws, and all the offenses committed within the same were punished in the manner now proposed, so long as the country remained "under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States;" but the moment the country was organized into Territorial Governments, with legislative, executive and judicial departments, it ceased to be under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, within the meaning of the act of Congress, for the reason that it had passed under another and a different jurisdiction. Hence, if we abolish the Territorial Government of Utah, preserving all existing rights, and place the country under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, offenders can be apprehended and brought into the adjacent States or Territories for punishment, in the same manner and under the same rules and regulations which obtained and have been uniformly practiced under like circumstances since 1790.

If the plan proposed shall be found an effective and adequate remedy for the evils complained of in Utah, no one, no matter what his political creed or partisan associations, need be apprehensive that it will violate any cherished theory or constitutional right in regard to the government of the Territories. It is a great mistake to suppose that all the territory or land belonging to the United States must necessarily be governed by the game laws and under the same clause of the Constitution, without reference to the purpose to which it is dedicated or the use which it is proposed to make of it; while all that portion of the country which is or shall be set apart to become new States, must necessarily be governed under and consistent with that clause of the Constitution which authorizes Congress to admit new States, it does not follow that other territory, not intended to be organized and admitted into the Union as States, must be governed under the same clause of the Constitution, with all the rights of self-government and State equality. For instance, if we should purchase Vancouver 's Island from Great Britain for the purpose of removing all the Indiana from our Pacific territories and locating them on that island as their permanent home, with guaranties that it should never be occupied or settled with white men, will it be contended that the purchase should be made and the island governed under the power to admit new States when it was not acquired for that purpose, nor intended to be applied to that object? Being acquired for Indian purposes and applied to Indian purposes, it is not more reasonable to assume that the power to acquire was derived from the Indian clause, and the island must necessarily be governed under and consistent with that clause of the Constitution which relates to Indian affairs. Again, suppose we should deem it expedient to buy a small island in the Mediterranean or the Carribean Sea for a naval station, can it be said with any force or plausibility that the purchase should be made or the island governed under the power to admit new States? On the contrary, is it not obvious that the right to acquire and govern in that case is derived from the power "to provide and maintain a navy," and must be exercised consistently with that power. So, if we purchase land for forts, arsenals, or other military purposes, or set apart and dedicate any territory which we now own for a military reservation, it immediately passes under the military power and must be governed in harmony with it. So if the land be purchased for a mint, it must be governed under the power to coin money; or, if purchased for a post-office, it must be governed under the power to establish post-offices and post-roads; or, for a custom-house, under the power to regulate commerce; or for a court-house, under the judiciary power. In short, the clause in the Constitution under which any land or territory belonging to the United States must be governed, is indicated by the object for which it was acquired and the purpose for which it is dedicated. So long, therefore, as the organic act of Utah shall remain in force, setting apart that country for a new State, and pledging the faith of the United States to receive it into the Union as soon as it should have the requisite population, we are bound to extend to it all the rights of self-government, agreeably to the clause in the Constitution providing for the admission of new States. Hence the necessity of repealing the organic act withdrawing the pledge of admission, and placing it under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, in order that persons and property may be protected, and justice administered, and crimes punished under the laws prescribed by Congress in such cases.

While the power of Congress to repeal this organic act and abolish the Territorial Government cannot be denied, the question may arise whether we possess the moral right of exercising the power, after the charter has been once granted and thy local government organized under its provisions. This is a grave question one which should not be decided hastily, nor under the influence of passion or prejudice. I am free to say that in my opinion there is no moral right to repeal the organic act of a Territory, and abolish the government organized under it, unless the inhabitants of that Territory, as a community, have done such acts as amount to a forfeiture of all rights under it such as becoming alien enemies, outlaws, disavowing their allegiance, or resisting the authority of the United States. These, and kindred acts, which we have every reason to believe are daily perpetrated in that Territory, would not only give us the moral right, but make it our imperative duty to abolish the Territorial Government, and place the inhabitants under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, to the end that justice may be done and the dignity and authority of the Government vindicated.

I have thus presented plainly and frankly my views of the Utah question the evils and the remedy upon the facts as they have reached us, and are supposed to be substantially correct. If official reports and authentic information shall change or modify these facts, I shall be ready to conform my notion to the read facts as they shall he found to exist. I have no such pride of opinion as will induce me to persevere in an error one moment after my judgment is convinced. If, therefore, a better plan can be devised one more consistent with justice and sound policy, or more effective as a remedy for acknowledged evils, I shall take great pleasure in adopting it, in lieu of the one I have presented to you to-night.

In conclusion, permit me to express my grateful acknowledgments for your patient attention and the kind and respectful manner in which you have received my remarks.

(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.'.