Elder Parley P. Pratt wrote the following for publication in the San Francisco Chronicle.

A Challenge!

Editors Chronicle:

I perceive by the tone of the press, that politicians, moralists and religionists are in trouble about Utah and Polygamy.  “War!”  “war!” “blood” and “destruction,” to the poor heathen Mormons!  But—thanks to the pious Methodists—the Mormons are going to be converted first.  Missionaries are a-going to be sent them.

It is the right of the President of the United States to appoint a Governor, and to send troops to Utah.  The citizens of that territory know this, and have no objections.  But suppose a Governor and troops went there, to interfere with the rights and liberties of the people, and trample on the laws, (of which, by the by, there is no danger) why then, of course, the aggressors, in common with all others are amenable to the civil courts, and are liable to fine, imprisonment, or execution, according to their crimes.  Even if they only threaten, they might be bound over to keep the peace.  The Courts of Utah have never yet been found remiss in the execution of the laws.  What is the particular crime alleged against the Governor and citizens of Utah, for which they are threatened with destruction or conversion?

We will be told it is Polygamy.  Well; “Sin” say the Apostle, “is the transgression of law.”  We should greatly prefer conversion to murder—And here, permit me to suggest a plan for a wholesale conversion, without a drop of blood, or even the trouble of a journey to Utah.  I am here in California as an official member, and representative of the church in Utah, for which I can produce credentials.  I am willing to meet a convention of the ablest lawyers and clergy to be found in our country.  And I hereby pledge my honor that I will publicly renounce polygamy, and that the church I represent will do the same, on the following conditions, viz:

The Old and New Testaments, the constitutions and laws of the United States, and the laws of Utah Territory, shall be the standard; and if, in all this wide range, one item of law can be found wherein God, angels, men, prophets, apostles, the Son of God, or the Holy Spirit, have made a plurality of wives a crime, a transgression of law, or an immorality, then, on these conditions, we will renounce polygamy.  But till this is done, we shall hold the law of God on the subject of matrimony, including a plurality of wives, as a most sacred institution, binding on our consciences—in the free exercise of which we claim the protection as freely and fully guaranteed by the constitution of our common country.

If editors in general throughout the country will please publish this, it may tend to investigation and enlightenment, either of the “poor, ignorant Mormons,” or of those who think them so much out of the way.

P.P. Pratt

Santa Clara, Nov. 22, 1851

[Deseret News, Jan. 4, 1855]
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Nov. 22, 1854, 1]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Aug. 2006]

Return to Parley P. Pratt’s Mission to California