Mormon History

Open Letter to Brigham Young #7 - 1871

Daily Corinne Reporter September 30, 1871


(Written expressly for the Corinne Reporter and containing a
true and succinct account of the Reign of Terror in Utah. -- Ed.)

The Prophet's Sacred Person Guarded Night and Day -- His Abject Fear of Assassination. -- The Coward's Dread of His Own Shadow -- The Cost of His Protection -- Who Pays fot It -- The Cause of His Fear -- The Revelator's Guilty Conscience -- The Blood of a Hundred Murdered Innocents Before His Eyes. -- Etc.

Salt Lake City, Sept. 28, 1871.    

An Open Letter to Brigham Young.

SIR: The President of the United States travels without a bodyguard, and sleeps without armed sentinels at his door. This is also true of the Governors of States and of American citizens generally. There is not a bishop of any religious body in our country that goes thus guarded. There has not been a Governor of Utah, except yourself, that has about him, day and night, armed men regularly employed and paid expressly for his personal protection. It is not only a peculiarity, but one of the crowning glories of our republican government that magistrates and rulers can go and come and freely mix with the populace anywhere and at any time unattended, and without fear or danger of assassination. President Lincoln was only a partial exception to this rule; for he was not attended in such a manner when he was killed. But, sir, from the beginning of your rule over us to the present time you have had your person carefully and vigilantly guarded. This armed protection commenced in Nauvoo, continued during your journey hither, and has been continued ever since without any relaxation. This can be seen in the sentinel at your gate during the day, in the armed patrol upon your premises at night, and in the escort which ever attends you in your travels. All this costs valuable time and means. Allowing two dollars per diem in ordinary times for the last twenty-four years; and in the numerous times of excitement and imagined danger the increased expense of special patrols has been at least equal to the former, so that it is not unfair to say that you have cost the Mormons of this city fully two hundred thousand dollars to guard you in your own house! If this statement should appear extravagant to my brethren, they can make the calculation for themselves. Then, how do you pay those guards? Out of the tithing? By no means, except in certain cases. The onerous and exacting duty has mainly been performed by men obtained by requisition on the bishops. These brethren, having toiled all day for the support of themselves and families, have gone to your premises and stood guard all night, with not an enemy within a thousand miles of Salt Lake City. The time and tax upon the physical endurance of these guards were valuable and aggregate an enormous sum. Then the princely escort which never fails to accompany you in your frequent journeyings is ever quartered upon the people, and this has cost us, first and last, time included, not less than two hundred thousand dollars. That I consider a very moderate estimate. You can not better spend a day or two than in making the calculation for yourself. The cost, then, of guarding your person in Utah, has been fully four hundred thousand dollars in valuable time and hard-earned means, less than twenty thousand of which has been paid out of the tithing. I congratulate you, sir, that you are the only man in the United States, outside or inside of a county jail or a State's prison, that has cost the pockets, the time, the larders, the oat-bins, hay-stacks and chicken roosts of American citizens such a sum for such a purpose! And all entirely uncalled for, and without a reason or a necessity worthy of a moment's consideration. For I do not believe there has ever been a time during the entire period of your incumbency of the presidency of the church when you were in danger of being assassinated.

The causes of your taking such extraordinary precautions for your personal safety, lie in your Falstaffian nature -- your native cowardice, and the bloody spectres which haunt you as the unwelcome "teasers" of a guilty conscience. From the beginning you have been conscious of being a usurper and a traitor. It is clear and undeniable that the constitution of our church (the Book of Covenants) predicates the idea of "the succession" upon the well understood law of primogeniture, stating expressly, that it "was confirmed to be handed down from father to son," and that it should be in Joseph, "and in his seed through all their generations" you fully recognized this proposition in the earlier years of your presidency as applying to David Smith, because you knew the common sense of the people would not admit of too abrupt a departure from the text of the Book of Covenants, and the cherished traditions of the church, no man in Nauvoo, in 1844 knew better than yourself, who was the "hope and the expectation" of our unsuspecting faith; and you manifest that conviction to-day in your traitorous efforts to ostracise and repudiate the family of Joseph, and in your overwhelming ambition to fix the next ensuing succession in your son, Brigham Young, Jr. It was this consciousness of perpetrating a wrong and a treason upon the children of Joseph, that excited your fears in Nauvoo, and continued to alarm you until you had educated the Mormon mind to believe you to be the "legal successor." How many thousands of times has the lying cant-phrase been repeated in our "testimony" meetings: "I know by the Spirit of God, that President Young is Joseph's legal successor!" The blockheads! They might with equal reason and truth have said, they knew you to be the legal successor of Benedict Arnold, and the uncle of Jeff. Davis! But leaving the idea of the rights of the Smith family out of the question (and I here disclaim all interest in and concern for those rights, and only refer to them to show how basely and completely you betrayed them, and to illustrate the perfidity that forms a constituent portion of your mental constitution), if the church was to be governed by some one in the "quorums," still there were several persons whose claims logocally and canonically preceeded yours; and besides, there was an entire council organization which, as a presiding council, held precedence over the traveling councillors (or twelve apostles) over which you presided. This was the High Council of the Church, our ecclesiastical court of last resort, whose president must be the president of the whole church, and over which Joseph had uniformily presided as such; while of your quorums the Book of Covenants says: "The twelve traveling councillors are called to be the twelve apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ, in all the world; thus differing from other officers of the church in the duties of their calling."

But you had formed a ring composed of Heber C. Kimball, Williard Richards and others of nearly equal note, and by their aid succeeded in your attempt at usurpation of the Presidency of the Church. Like traitors sometimes do, you "flourished like the green bay tree." The cup of your ambition seemed overflowing in its happy realizations; but the poison of fear and conscious guilt was there to mar and spoil its enjoyment. You feared your brethren whom you had cheated and suplanted, and your fraudulently won honors rest uneasily upon you. You feared that they would do unto you what you would certainly have done unto them had their case been yours. Hence body-guards to protect your person.

After you had removed to Salt Lake and domiciled your family within that semi-fortification and those comfortable houses, built of tithing materials and unrequited, conscripted labor, and had become firmly fixed on the throne of the "kingdom," you still kept up the useless watch, turning your office into a small armory, where the most approved patterns of fire-arms were kept ready for a moment's use. The reasons for all this were, first the original cause of fear which still remained; second, there might be husbands lurking around, whose wives you had corrupted and stolen, who might consider a moment of sweet revenge to be an equivalent for a life-time of wretchedness and misery in their once happy, but now desolate homes; third, you had introduced your doctrine of "blood atonement," and the friends of recusant Mormons, murdered in prosecution of it decrees, might take it into their heads to get even. And (with the exception of a few contemptable outsiders, who crawl around the horizon of your murky firmament, and, in the permitted distance, humble themselves in shameless abjectiveness before you, and lick dirt in the hope that "favor may follow fawning") your insensate fear of Gentiles who never yet have harmed you, and probably never will unlawfully; together with the latent yet ever-increasing fear and distrust of your own anointed brotherhood, caused by your insatiable avarice, your never-ending series of dishonest and treacherous dealings with them, and their increasing disregard for you. These are among the reasons why you keep yourself so secluded and carefully guarded, why you do not mix freely with the populace; why you did not celebrate the [natal] day of our country with the congregated masses of citizens in Salt Lake City; why you did not then and there occupy your wonted post of honor in the great Tabernacle; why you fled like the wicked who flee when no man pursueth, and with palpitating heart wore out your own "little old" Fourth of July as best you could! And, so, in the midst of pleasures, surrounded by obsequious flatterers and pliant flunkeys; in the midst of piles of wealth and multiplied outward evidences of grandeur; in the midst of your ambition and dreams of royalty and greatness, this constant fear of assassination is the imaginary sword which hangs over your head suspended by a single hair; it is the acid which sours and poisons your every cup of sweetness, and turns your simplest beverages into blood. Sir, how nobly you must have acted toward the offspring of Joseph; how guileless your heart; how great the "wisdom of your administration;" how thoroughly you have won and kept the confidence of your brethren, and of all just men, seeing that you have a chronic torment in the fear of being killed by somebody in the church or out!   ARGUS.