Mormon History

Letter to Abraham Lincoln - 1862

John W. Dawson to Abraham Lincoln

Monday, January 13, 1862 (Affairs in Utah Territory)

From John W. Dawson to Abraham Lincoln1, January 13, 1862

Fort Bridger. Utah Terrritory--

January 13 1862--

On leaving Great Salt Lake City on the 31st ult en route for home & Washington City, I was followed by a band of Danites2 and 12 miles out, wantonly assaulted & beaten -- the real cause of which may be found in the address of a committee prepared & delivered to a mass meeting held in Salt Lake City on the 6th inst -- which meeting was called to take steps preparatory to calling a convention for forming a constitution & State Government -- a bill for which I vetoed about the 22nd ult -- because the times fixed for taking the sense of the people on the question of calling a convention -- & holding said convention -- the former on the 6th January & the latter on the 20th were too near by to allow Congress to act on the bill -- or the people time enough to canvass the matter -- & further & a better reason not assigned -- the fact that the evident purpose of the convention was to put in operation a state government & if not admitted into the Union, to completely oust federal authority in the territory -- a fact that will transpire ere the federal government is ready to meet it-- To prevent them having a legal basis for such action -- & to make them extend the time so that Congress might act on a bill for that purpose, I vetoed the one referred to. As I said before, the meeting was called -- & the proceedings thereof I enclose as a part of this communication -- & direct your attention to the insolent language -- the wanton misrepresentations -- & the insidious disloyalty breathed through the whole. I had not supposed that the body of Mormons justified the assault on me -- but the Deseret News, the organ of the Church, on the day I left --contained an article so full of misrepresentation calumny & unjustifiable invective that when I saw it, which was not till the 8th inst that my mind was changed --

Indeed Sir -- the Honorable Henry Martin last Supt of Indian affairs who had designed to return with me -- but fearing violence detained a few days was so impressed with the importance of making the Mormon authorities responsible for his life -- asked their protection out of the Territory -- and they accordingly furnished him an escort at a great expense -- & when they overtook me I joined them to this place --

The Deseret News of the 8th inst gives evidence of repentance for so great an injury did me in its issue of the 1st inst -- & the latter I enclose herewith The truth is Mr. President affairs in this territory have always been covered -- the truth has not been told -- & even now Sir -- there is not a federal officer at Salt Lake City who dares to represent the truth in writing -- for fear of being found out & life hazarded-- No officer who takes issue with them -- right or wrong is safe Why sir lawlessness prevails everywhere-- the federal courts are shorn of their power by legislative action by which nearly all power is conferred on Mormon Probate courts-- About the 22nd ult I saw a ruffian at noon day in front of my room & that of Honorable H R Crosby,3 a federal judge -- in a public street in the City of Salt Lake fire five pistol shots at Judge Crosby -- intending to take his life -- & yet nothing was done with criminal -- & what is more the Deseret News contained a most scurrilous article on that subject & against Judge C--

And then talk about their loyalty, Why such a thing is mythical -- not a day passes but that disloyal sentiments are heard on the streets -- nor a Sunday without it is preached from the pulpit of the tabernacle -- as every federal officer in the territory will testify when they can do so without being thereby subject to violence or perhaps death--

The whole purpose of the people is to gain admission into the Union on an equal basis -- & then the ulcer polygamy will have a sovereign protection which, while no other State nor the federal government can control, will be infecting every part of contiguous territory -- ultimately to result in disasters which no man can now conjecture-- It must not be admitted -- till the foul ulcer is cured, by a predominance of gentile population or by federal bayonets -- and the sooner the federal government is awake to these alternatives the better

The horrid crimes that have been committed in this territory -- & yet which have gone unpunished, have no parallel among civilized nations-- Take the Mountain Meadow Massacre, at which 120 men women & children were massacred in cold blood in Sept 1857 -- and there stands a rude monument at the fatal spot; but the inscription yet proves unmeaning -- " Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord"-- There it stands that monument the best evidence of the weakness & guilt of an administration which sacrificed its sense of justice to the vain hope of retaining power

Take the murder of Sergeant Pike who was shot in daylight by a Mormon in Salt Lake City -- & the murderer never punished-- Take the robberies & murders which have been committed on emigrants within this territory -- scarcely any whereof have been punished-- Take the act of possessing themselves of Indian reservations set apart by the federal government -- the fact that in the hour of the country's greatest travail -- not one soldier has been offered, but hatred to our government at all times expressed in the matter -- & there is a predicament of facts which may well attract your attention & that of the Congress of the U S--

There is at this post -- the important key to the Salt Lake Valley -- over one Hundred thousand dollars worth of property & army goods belonging to the U S, which with the post, is controlled by one ordnance sergeant -- one hospital steward -- & one private -- which goods are at the risk of being taken at any moment together with the post & all private property therein, by treasonable bodies of men -- and the danger is dally increasing

These goods must be either removed to the States -- or an army sent out to possess them & set up the national standard & enforce respect thereto; or without one or the other of these alternatives, they (the goods) will fall into the hands of the enemy--

I understand that Capt J C Clark late officer in command -- of this post conditionally contracted with Honorable W A Carter Sutler at this post -- to remove the goods to Fort Leavenworth in the spring -- which contract is subject to the ratification of the Secy of War -- a step which I think necessary Judge Carter is a gentleman of much integrity & responsibility & I hope that the contract will be ratified -- if the goods are to be removed--

In conclusion I have to say that some thing should be at once done by the federal government in regard to this territory -- or a more dangerous & anomalous state of affairs will exist soon--

I gladly learn that Honorable Judge Cradlebaugh4 delegate from Nevada is representing matters at Washington, for he is fully advised whereof he speaks

Let me urge these things upon your attention -- in the full hope that an adequate army may be sent here -- as the only conservator of public peace -- & effectual advocate & maintainer of federal power--

In high consideration yours

John W Dawson


P. S -- I have further to state that the present Supt of Indian affairs, in fear of violence durst not investigate & report upon Uinta Valley lately declared an Indian Reservation -- & instructed Honorable Henry Martin his predecessor -- to so report in person to the Department -- not daring to write a letter to that effect -- for fear of it being intercepted or contents made known I have further to state that this post is on the great thoroughfare between the Atlantic & Pacific States -- & over it passes the Daily Overland Mail & telegraph line -- & the advantages of the post are invaluable-- Here is the Key -- plenty of water grain wood & grass for the army--

[Note 1 Dawson, a Fort Wayne, Indiana newspaper editor, was appointed governor of the Utah Territory in 1861.]

[Note 2 The Danites were reputed to be a secret organization within the Mormon Church that purged spies and disaffected members from the Church.]

[Note 3 Henry R. Crosbie was an associate justice in the Utah Territory.]

[Note 4 John Cradlebaugh served as a delegate to Congress (1861-63) from the Nevada Territory.]


(Webmaster Note: Mormon Senator Harry Reid would have made a great 19th century Anti-Mormon)

Reid: Polygamous groups are criminal gangs

July 24, 2008

WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) -- Polygamous groups are criminal gangs that commit welfare fraud and tax evasion as well as sexual abuse, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.

Reid, D-Nev., a Mormon, spoke at the opening of a Judiciary Committee hearing on the communities, the Deseret Morning News reported. He said he was glad the hearing was being held on Pioneer Day, a Utah holiday commemorating the arrival of the Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City.

"I am here to tell you that polygamist communities in the United States are a form of organized crime," he said. "The most obvious crime being committed in these communities is bigamy, child abuse -- teen and preteen girls are forced to marry older men and bear their children."

Reid proposed a federal-state task force to police polygamous sects, CNN said. "The lawless conduct of polygamous communities in the United States deserves national and federal action," Reid told the Washington hearing.

Polygamists, including women in long dresses, packed the hearing room. The focus was on law enforcement, and the polygamists did not testify although former sect members did.

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.'.