A Mormon’s View

Royal B. Young Hears Kate Field

Some Opposite Opinions

Kate Threatens to Bring Her Monster to Salt Lake—Her Extreme Poverty

The Kansas City Journal of the 5th contains the following articles:

Miss Kate Field lectured at Music Hall under the management of W.C.T.U. last evening to the largest audience at any of the places of amusement. As the lady faced her listeners she must have noticed that there was a preponderance of men among them and that the general attitude was one of appreciation. In the middle of the lecture, however, some of the restless fraternity began to rustle out to the disgust of the majority, who, like the speaker, were annoyed by the clatter. Miss Field sensibly stopped long enough to allow the rude portion of the audience to withdraw. The lady who appeared for the first time as the exponent of Mormon evils in Kansas City, is a slight, stylish woman, who dawned upon her audience in suitable evening dress, with careful attention to such details as went to make up an agreeable presence.

She defined the Mormon monster to consist not only of polygamy but of treason. She declared that the Mormon religion was from God down to the people, rather than from the people up to God.

She said that Mormon women would insist that they liked polygamy because their religion taught them to say so and that lies were considered not only legitimate, but holy when told in behalf of the church. She said that Mormon women were no different from other women and that their jealousies were just as powerful, only they were taught that their only chance of salvation was through their husbands. She considered the pitiable indifference in the east underestimated the power of the Mormons and gave statistics to prove their increase in Idaho, Montana, Utah and Colorado. She quoted language which went to show that politically the Mormon church was at war with the government and that there was rejoicing at Salt Lake over the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and Garfield. The lecture, while vehement and vigorous, was interspersed with humorous sketches and anecdotes, and in one instance the lecture brought down the house by singing a Mormon hymn. She gave a description of the allegory of the Endowment house, and altogether gave her audience a great deal of information about something they barely knew existed.

Miss Field was found after her lecture, and chatted a few minutes before returning to her hotel. She said that audiences are very queer things to stand before, and that in one town one may get applause, while in another all the points will be missed. She said she had recently begun to make notes as she traveled, in order to remember experiences odd as well as interesting, as she had found her memory exceedingly tricky of late.

When asked whether she expected to take her “Monster” to Salt Lake City, she said she certainly should deliver it there if the opportunity presented itself, and that she should be sure of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

On being told that it was rumored that, as one of the richest women in America, she would invest heavily here, she said:

“What rot! If I was a rich woman I tell you I should live up to my reputation, and shouldn’t be living around this way lecturing. I wish the rumor to be contradicted.”

When asked why she objected to the idea, she said: “First, because it is a lie, and I hate lies; and then, I am overrun by begging letters.”

From here Miss Field goes to Fort Leavenworth, where she will be the guest of the family of General McCook.

While Miss Kate Field was speaking of the “Mormon Monster,” at Music Hall last evening, she was doubtless unaware that among her auditors was the son of the greatest Mormon apostle, Brigham Young. It was Royal B. young, 35 years old, the possessor of fifty-six brothers and sisters, three wives and eight children. After the lecture a Journal reporter met the son of the great Mormon and found him far from what is generally pictured as the ideal polygamist. He is an entertaining talker, and his version of Mormon life is indeed an interesting recital. Mr. Young has been in the city for several days and is en route east, having been released from the Utah Penitentiary February 10.

Before he was forced to don the prison garb nine months ago for having plurality of wives, he was the agent at Salt Lake City for a well-known sewing machine, and when he cast it aside he returned to the business, and his present trip is in connection with it. In addition to his prison sentence he was fined $750, but escaped the payment of this, and was not required to serve his full time on account of the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States, which had a direct bearing on his case. Mr. Young is an outspoken polygamist and vigorously defends the doctrines of his father. The conversation naturally turned upon the subject of Miss Field’s lecture and the mormon said: “There is this about her remark: A thread of truth runs through them, which is sufficient to give an appearance of truth to all she says to those acquainted with only one side of the subject. I have been reared in Mormonism and I must confess I have failed during the thirty-five years I have lived in Utah to witness any of the horrors she depicts with such fervor. Mormonism don’t interest the people; it is a worn out subject, and were it not for a few soreheads who are at the bottom of all the trouble, people this far east would scarcely know of its existence. What difference is it to you how many wives I have, or to me how many you may have? I listened to Miss Field’s words with considerable degree of interest and laughed at some of her assertions because I knew their utter falsity. By the way I noticed that many left the hall while she was speaking and this, I think, shows the public is not interested in her talk. Were the Mormons side known as well as her’s the better class would be disgusted with the government’s crusade. Mormons are not perfect, nor are they infallible, but we do claim that they are equal to the people of Kansas City or any other city. Miss Field made several mis-statements, either intentionally or unintentionally, but as she is a lady I will be charitable and take the latter view. I do think that she has been woefully misled. She came to Salt Lake City, stayed six weeks and associated only with the known enemies of the Church. From the information she received from this source she condemns us. Among other things Miss Field said that Colorado Republicans were buying up the votes of the Mormons who had settled in that State. That is untrue, because every good Mormon is and must be a Democrat. This is in his religion and part of my religion is to be a Democrat.

“The laws that have been passed for the suppression of polygamy,” continued Mr. Young, “cannot and will not be enforced because they deprive a man of God-given rights. Some of our people have been in polygamy for forty years and the law says he shall not even visit his plural wives or children. They may suppress the growth of polygamy but they cannot cast asunder sacred ties already formed. If a Mormon visits a sick child, a dead child of a plural wife, if he sits down to a meal with the latter, it is made cohabitation by the laws and punished by imprisonment. No; this is cruel and inhuman, and as long as a spark of manhood remains we will not cast off our offspring. The government may keep us in prison, but they will accomplish nothing. I could have had myself released from prison by disowning two of my three wives; but do you think I would desert them and my children? Not 10 per cent, of the Mormon men of marriageable age are in polygamy, but all who belong to the church must believe in it, whether they practice it or not. A Mormon may be a bachelor and yet a good Mormon. Those in polygamy, will not average more than two wives, while the very highest number seven, which is rare indeed. All this talk about unhappy homes in Utah is bosh, and domestic infelicity does not exist to a greater extent there than it does in your own midst. Then, too, it is an altogether mistaken idea that the wives live in one household. I have traveled from one end of Utah to the other and I can truthfully say I never found an instance of this. Our wives are just as happy as if they were unaware of each other’s existence. When I was in prison my first wife used to come down to see me every few days. One time when I passed them with my striped suit and close cropped hair, the children began to cry. The officials were touched, and when my wife went outside they offered my liberty if she would use her influence with me to get me to disown my other wives. Her reply was this: “If he would disown them I would disown him.”

Mr. Young said that Mormonism received 10,000 recruits a year from the working classes of this country and Europe, and not from the slums, as had been represented. He said they were a happy and contented people and that 95 per cent, of them owned their homes. He ascribed the trouble with the government to the actions of political hacks, for which he considered Utah the dumping ground. In conclusion, said: “The crusade against Mormons is cruel and inhuman, unchristian and undemocratic, and is breaking up happy homes and bringing hardships upon delicate women and children.”

[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mar. 5, 1887, 9]
[Salt Lake Herald, Mar. 11, 1887]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, May 2006]


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