Joseph F. Smith Pleads Guilty - 1912

The Herald November 16, 1912


A splendid lecture was given on this subject in the Auditorium last Thursday evening by Frank J. Cannon, before a large and appreciative audience. It was the first in the lecture course of the Home and School Association, and in this initial success, the Association scored a great success.

The speaker was introduced by Judge W. A. Way. In his prelude, Judge Way recited a story of surprising interest concerning the local features relating to the first publication of the "Book of Mormonism." The story was a long one and was listened to with intense interest. He then introduced the speaker of the evening.

Mr. Cannon startled his hearers with the question, "What are you going to do about it anyway?" asked in a vehement manner, went on to explain that this question was asked before the Senatorial Investigating Committee at Washington, by Joseph [F.] Smith, the acknowledged head of the Mormon Church when he was on trial for violating their solemn treatise made between this church and the United States Government, to which charges he plead guilty. He denied the right of the Senators to interrogate him, and declared he was not amendable to the government.

After some preliminaries the speaker launched into his subject: He said the people of this nation did not fully appreciate the gravity of the issue. He narrated the incidents of the war made by this government on the Mormon Church, a quarter of a century ago; that driven to desperation by their sufferings, they had appealed to the government, and as a result of the pledges made at that time, the givernment had made concessions to them that were unparalled in the history of nations. They were restored to their land, to statehood, and to citizenship; millions of dollars worth of property were taken from the schools and given to the chiefs: 100,000 of their children were legitimized" and many more concessions were given to them. In spite of all this, the leaders of the church refused to honor the treaties which they had ratified.

Mr. Cannon said the Mormon Church was an empire within itself, and that Joseph Smith was an absolute despot, with 100,000 priests subservient to his will, that the leader is entirely sincere in his appreciation of himself, and that his followers are as fanatical as any Mohamedon, that the absolute devotion of the people to the hierarchy is due to their belief in the doctrine that "sin on earth is sanctity in heaven."

He accused the church as being treasonable in doctrine and practice, with sanctioning the "oath of blood" in vengeance, using millions of money for the purpose of operating free institutions, and with teaching and practicing polygamy. He said that seven states were under its power and that its influence was greater than that of the government, [in] twenty-two years it had passed from a condition of outlawry to its present powerful position, and if this ratio was continued for two decades, its long arm would reach around the civilized world.

The remainder of the address was an exploitation of the specific charges and an impassioned appeal to the people of this land to arouse themselves against this subtle and powerful "invisible empire."