James Buchanan State of the Union Address - 1857
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS - 1857
A Territorial government was established for Utah by act of Congress approved the 9th September, 1850, and the Constitution and laws of the United States were thereby extended over it "so far as the same or any provisions thereof may be applicable." This act provided for the appointment by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, of a governor (who was to be ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs), a secretary, three judges of the supreme court, a marshal, and a district attorney. Subsequent acts provided for the appointment of the officers necessary to extend our land and our Indian system over the Territory. Brigham Young was appointed the first governor on the 20th September, 1850, and has held the office ever since. Whilst Governor Young has been both governor and superintendent of Indian affairs throughout this period, he has been at the same time the head of the church called the Latter-day Saints, and professes to govern its members and dispose of their property by direct inspiration and authority from the Almighty. His power has been, therefore, absolute over both church and state.
The people of Utah almost exclusively belong to this church, and believing with a fanatical spirit that he is governor of the Territory by divine appointment, they obey his commands as if these were direct revelations from Heaven. If, therefore, he chooses that his government shall come into collision with the Government of the United States, the members of the Mormon Church will yield implicit obedience to his will. Unfortunately, existing facts leave but little doubt that such is his determination. Without entering upon a minute history of occurrences, it is sufficient to say that all the officers of the United States, judicial and executive, with the single exception of two Indian agents, have found it necessary for their own personal safety to withdraw from the Territory, and there no longer remains any government in Utah but the despotism of Brigham Young. This being the condition of affairs in the Territory, I could not mistake the path of duty. As Chief Executive Magistrate I was bound to restore the supremacy of the Constitution and laws within its limits. In order to effect this purpose, I appointed a new governor and other Federal officers for Utah and sent with them a military force for their protection and to aid as a posse comitatus in case of need in the execution of the laws.
With the religious opinions of the Mormons, as long as they remained mere opinions, however deplorable in themselves and revolting to the moral and religious sentiments of all Christendom, I had no right to interfere. Actions alone, when in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States, become the legitimate subjects for the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate. My instructions to Governor Cumming have therefore been framed in strict accordance with these principles. At their date a hope was indulged that no necessity might exist for employing the military in restoring and maintaining the authority of the law, but this hope has now vanished. Governor Young has by proclamation declared his determination to maintain his power by force, and has already committed acts of hostility against the United States. Unless he should retrace his steps the Territory of Utah will be in a state of open rebellion. He has committed these acts of hostility notwithstanding Major Van Vliet, an officer of the Army, sent to Utah by the Commanding General to purchase provisions for the troops, had given him the strongest assurances of the peaceful intentions of the Government, and that the troops would only be employed as a posse comitatus when called on by the civil authority to aid in the execution of the laws.
There is reason to believe that Governor Young has long contemplated this result. He knows that the continuance of his despotic power depends upon the exclusion of all settlers from the Territory except those who will acknowledge his divine mission and implicitly obey his will, and that an enlightened public opinion there would soon prostrate institutions at war with the laws both of God and man. "He has therefore for several years, in order to maintain his independence, been industriously employed in collecting and fabricating arms and munitions of war and in disciplining the Mormons for military service." As superintendent of Indian affairs he has had an opportunity of tampering with the Indian tribes and exciting their hostile feelings against the United States. This, according to our information, he has accomplished in regard to some of these tribes, while others have remained true to their allegiance and have communicated his intrigues to our Indian agents. He has laid in a store of provisions for three years, which in case of necessity, as he informed Major Van Vliet, he will conceal, "and then take to the mountains and bid defiance to all the powers of the Government."
A great part of all this may be idle boasting, but yet no wise government will lightly estimate the efforts which may be inspired by such frenzied fanaticism as exists among the Mormons in Utah. This is the first rebellion which has existed in our Territories, and humanity itself requires that we should put it down in such a manner that it shall be the last. To trifle with it would be to encourage it and to render it formidable. We ought to go there with such an imposing force as to convince these deluded people that resistance would be vain, and thus spare the effusion of blood. We can in this manner best convince them that we are their friends, not their enemies. In order to accomplish this object it will be necessary, according to the estimate of the War Department, to raise four additional regiments; and this I earnestly recommend to Congress. At the present moment of depression in the revenues of the country I am sorry to be obliged to recommend such a measure; but I feel confident of the support of Congress, cost what it may, in suppressing the insurrection and in restoring and maintaining the sovereignty of the Constitution and laws over the Territory of Utah.
(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.
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
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
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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