Mormon History

Report to President Fillmore - 1852

The New York Herald January 4, 1852

HIGHLY IMPORTANT AND EXTRAORDINARY

DEVELOPMENT  OF  MORMONISM.

Report of the Judges of Utah Territory to the President
Polygamy and Religion Revived in the West.


To HIS EXCELLENCY MILLARD FILLMORE,
            PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES --

SIR -- It becomes our duty, as officers of the United States for the territory of Utah, to inform your Excellency that we have been compelled to withdraw from the territory, and our official duties, in consequence of the lawless acts and the hostile and seditious feelings and sentiments manifested by Brigham Young, the Governor, and the great body of the residents there, towards the government and officers of the United States, in aspersions and denunciations so violent and offensive as to render the discharge of our official duries not only dangerous, but impractical, and a longer residence in the territory, in our jusgements, incompatible with a proper sense of self-respect, and the high regard which is due to the United States...

We deem it our duty to state, in this official communication, that polygamy, or "plurality of wives is openly avowed and practised in the territory, under the sanction and in obedience to the direct commands of the church." So universal is this practice, that very few, if any, leading men in that community can be found who have not more than one wife each, which creates a monopoly, and which was pecuilarly hard upon the officers sent to reside there. The prominent men in the church, whose example in all things it is the ambition of the more humble to imitate have each many wives, some of them, we are credibly informed and beieve, as many as twenty or thirty and Brigham Young, the Governor, even a greater number. Only a few days before we left the territory, the Governor was seen riding through the streets of the city in an omnibus, with a large company of his wives, more than two-thirds of whom had infants in their arms -- a sure sign that the evil is oncreasing. It is not uncommon to find two or more sisters married to the same man; and in one instance, at least, a mother and her two daughters are among the wives of a leading member of the church. This practice, regarded and punished as a high and revolting crime in all civilized countries, would, of course, never be made a statutory offence by a Mormon Legislature; and if a crime at common-law, the court would be powerless to correct the evil with Mormon juries. The City of the Great Salt Lake, is an important point in the overland route to Oregon and California for the emigrant to replenish his stores, or to winter if overtaken by the advance of the season; but the intimidation which is produced by the denunciations and conduct...


Note: See also: House Executive Document, 32d Congress 1st Session, No. 25, "Utah: Message from the President... Jan. 9, 1852," pp. 8-22, (quoted in Spiritual-Wife Doctrine of the Mormons. Report of the Judges of Utah Territory. Cheltenham, England, 1852).


 Saint Joseph Gazette February 4, 1852

ASTOUNDING REVELATIONS MADE BY THE UTAH JUDGES. -- The Mormons in open Rebellion against the United States. -- Polygamy and Incest. -- The report of the Judges of Utah Territory, who were expelled thence by the Mormons, has been published, and it is certainly one of the most extraordinary public documents that has ever come under our observation. It is dated Dec. 19, 1851, and addressed to the President of the United States. Lemuel G. Brandenbury, Chief Justice of the Territory, Perry A. Brocchus, Associate Justice, and B. D. Harris, Secretary of the Territory, are the parties whose signatures are appended to the report, and their narrative bears upon its face the evidence of candor and truthfulness. We have not the slightest doubt that it is a correct picture of the state of law, society, and morals; among the latter day and latter end saints.

It appears that immediately on their arrival in the Territory, the Judges were marked out for insult. Brigham Young, the governor, refused to receive them officially, and publicly declared that they might draw their salaries but should never try causes in the Territory, if he could prevent it. They were informed that "if they paid their board and behaved themselves they might stay; but if not, the Mormons would kick them to h--ll, where they belonged." The Mormons were assembled en masse for the purpose of giving Young & his satellites an opportunity to publicly insult the Government of the United States and its representatives in the territory, and again and again every epithet that the most consummate blackguard could suggest was heaped upon the judges. It is clear from the report that Young rules the Mormons with absolute power. He professes to utter his decrees by the authority of Jesus Christ, and they are obeyed as if they were the mandates of God! Oaths and blasphemy, it would seem, are common in the temples of worship, while the most horrible and disgusting licentiousness defiles the domiciles both of priests and laymen. Mothers and daughters are included in the same harem, and the abominations of Gomorrah seem to have become a part of the religion of the new "Cities of the Plain." Brigham Young controls the action of juries, appoints executive officers, is the fountain-head of legislation, exercises a power temporal and spiritual, ten times more despotic than that of Pious the Ninth of Rome. The Church -- of which Young is the acknowledged head -- is supreme. Of the manner in which justice is administered in the territory some idea may be found by the following passage from the report.

A man was tried in an adjoining county for an alleged offence, by a member of the church, purporting to be a judge, without a jury, and convicted and punished. About the same time, a cool and deliberate murder was committed in the territory, upon the body of James Monroe, a citizen of the United States, from Utica, New York, on his way to Salt Lake City, by a member of the church, and the remains brought into the city and buried, without an inquest, the murderer walking about the streets afterwards, under the eye of the Governor, and in his society -- some of the relatives residing there, and members of the church, afraid or disinclined to act. It was reported, and believed by many that the murder was counselled by the church, or some of its leading members, and such impression would paralyze the hand of any one inclined to interfere. This rumor received much force from the intimacy between offender and the leading members of the church, before and after the commission of the offence. He was several weeks in the city, and unknown, as well as his location, to any of us; it was the common talk that he intended to kill Mr. Monroe; he was permitted to go out sixty or eighty miles to meet his victim, and none of those men who knew the fact, lifted an arm or a voice to prevent the deed. He met Monroe, who was unarmed, invited him out of his camp, took a seat and talked half an hour with him and then rose up and blew his brains out with a pistol. We have no doubt, however, that if he had been tried, an entire acquittal would have followed; as was the result in February last, in the case of Dr. J. R. Vaughn, a citizen of Indiana. then on his way to California, and the murderer suffered to go unpunished. How many other crimes and offences were punished or passed by, we know not. The Governor was thus true to his declaration, that "the United States Judges should never try a cause, if he could prevent it," for we had no officer to summon a jury, or execute a warrant, subpoena, or any kind of process, except in cases in which the United States was a party, where the Marshal would be bound to act.

The judges must have had a pleasant time of it in Brigham Young's dominions; for they lived in continual expectation of having their throats cut. We give below an extract from the report, by way of affording a sample of the treatment they received. The address referred to, was a harangue delivered by one of the judges on the character and service of Washington.

At the close of the address, the Governor arose and denounced the speaker with great violence, as "profoundly ignorant or wilfully wicked;" strode the stage madly, assuming various theatrical attitudes, declared "he was a greater man than even George Washington;" that "he knew more than ever George Washington did;" that "he was the man that could handle the sword;" and, that "if there was any more discussion, there would be a pulling of hair and cutting of throats." Referring to a remark of the speaker "that the United States government was humane, and kindly disposed towards them," he said, "I know the United States did not murder our wives and children; burn our houses and rob us of our property, but they stood by and saw it done, and never opened their mouths, the d___d scoundrel." By this time the passions of the people were lashed to a fury like his own. To every sentence he uttered, there was a prompt and determined response, showing beyond a doubt that all the hostile and seditious sentiments we had previously heard, were the sentiments of this people. Those of us present felt the personal danger that surrounded us. If the Governor had but pointed his finger at us as an indication of his wish, we have no doubt we would have been massacred before leaving the house. But he did not point his finger. Upon the next and succeeding days, these denunciations of the officers and the government were renewed, as we were informed by a number who continued in their meetings, by the Governor and others, with increased vehemence, and in language so vulgar and obscene, that decency would blush to hear it.

Here is another extract from the report referring to the contempt and insult with which the authority of the Government and the characters of our statesmen were uniformly treated:

The Governor rose to address the audience and profound silence ensued, as is always the case when he rises to speak. -- After reflecting in terms of condemnation upon the alleged gostility of General Taylor to the Mormons and to giving them a government, he exclaimed, in a loud and exulting tone, "but Zachary Taylor is dead and in hell, and I am glad of it." -- Then drawing himself up to his utmost height, and stretching out his hands towards heaven, he declared, in a still more violent voice, "And I prophecy in the name of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the priesthood that is upon me, that any President of the United States who lifts his finger against this people, shall die an untimely death, and go to hell!" To this sentiment there came up, and from those seated around us, and from all parts of the house, loud and mingled responses of "Amen!" "Good!" "Hear!" &c. -- With the invitation to be present on this occasion was included an invitation to dine with the Governor. Upon a subsequent occasion, in reply to the remarks made by one of the undersigned upon the subject, before a large audience, the Governor reiterated and declared, "I did say that General Taylor was dead, and in hell, and I know it!" A man in the crowd, seemingly to give the Governor an opportunity of fixing its truth, spoke out and said, "How do you know it?" -- to which the Governor promptly replied, "Because God told me so." An elder of the church, laying his hand upon the shoulder of one of the undersigned, added: "Yes, Judge, and you'll know it too, for you'll see him when you get there."

We close our quotations from this extraordinary document with a passage in relation to Mormon morals, which will make our readers open their eyes somewhat wider than usual. The naivete with which the judges complain of the wife monopoly "as peculiarly hard upon the officers" is not the least interesting portion of the extract.

We deem it our duty to state, in this official communication, that polygamy, or plurality of wives is openly allowed and practised in the territory, under the sanction and in obedience to the direct commands of the church. So universal is the practice, that very few, if any, leading men in the community can be found who have not more than one wife each, which was peculiarly hard upon the officers sent to reside there. The prominent men in the church, whose example in all things it is the ambition of the more humble to imitate have each many wives, some of them we are credibly informed and believe, as many as twenty or thirty and Brigham Young, the Governor, even a greater number. Only a few days before we left the territory, the Governor was seen riding through the streets of the city in an omnibus with a large company of wives, more than two thirds of whom had infants in their arms -- a sure sign that the evil is increasing. It is not uncommon to find two or more sisters married to the same man; and in one instance, at least, a mother and her two daughters are among the wives of a leading member of the church. This practice, regarded and punished as a high and revolting crime in all civilized countries, would, of course, never be made a statutory offence by a Mormon Legislature; and if a crime at common law, the court would be powerless to correct the evil, with Mormon juries.

The Mormons of the Salt Lake Valley are a formidable body. Their country is only approachable, on the eastern side, by a narrow pass and their position is one of great strength generally. The men are trained to arms, well furnished with muskets and rifles, and possess about 100 pieces of cannon. We presume they could muster in an emergency an army of from 15,000 to 20,000 able bodied men, and their numbers are rapidly increasing, in consequence of emigration from the Eastern States and from Europe. That they intend to establish if possible a government independent of the United States is beyond all question; and we have no doubt that it will eventually be found necessary to compel their obedience to our laws by extreme measures. Nullification -- dead in the South -- has broken out in an unexpected quarter, and must be put down with the strong hand. The existence of a community in this Republic practising such wholesale licentiousness as the Mormons are accused of tolerating and encouraging, is a disgrace to our Government. -- We shall look with no little interest for the action of Congress upon these astounding and we have no doubt authentic disclosures.

(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

110th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 3313

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

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

July 23, 2008

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

A BILL

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,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

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

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

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.

SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL POLYGAMY TASK FORCE.

(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.

SEC. 4. POLYGAMY VICTIM ASSISTANCE DISCRETIONARY GRANTS.

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

`SEC. 1404F. ASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS OF POLYGAMY.

`(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.'.

SEC. 5. POLYGAMY INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION ASSISTANCE DISCRETIONARY GRANTS.

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.'.

Mormon United States Senator Harry Reid of Nevada

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