Great Salt Lake City, Sept. 10, 1850
Dr. J.M. Bernhisel and Almon W. Babbitt Esqs.

Dear Sirs:

Enclosed you will find the resolutions of the Legislature of the State, in relation to a Territorial Government, etc.  Accordingly we proceed to lay before you our reasons and feelings pertaining to Governmental affairs.

If Congress has passed at the present session an act for the organization of a Territory called “Utah Territory” which they design for us, regardless of all our feeling in the matter, then we have only to yield our quiet acquiescence therein for the time being; only urging the more strenuous, the early adjustment of our boundaries, and acceptances of our Constitution and admission.  If, on the contrary, they have adjourned and no action had upon the subject, you will only urge our claims for admission as a State.  Our reasons for this course are many and obvious.  First, we have such an organization, being thrown together in the manner we are from all parts of the world in the midst of savage tribes, far from any civil organization, necessity compelled us for our safety and protection to adopt some form of Government, the people having the unquestionable right to choose their own form of Government have done so.  They have framed a State, adopted a constitution, elected officers, passed laws, taxed themselves for the support of that Government, repelled Indian invasion, established institutions of learning, laid out and improved roads, built public buildings, explored the country, etc., etc., all at their own expense.

Had Congress given us a Territorial organization the first instance, all would have been well, for then we could have traveled accordingly.  But what else we ask during the tardy action of Congress could we have done than what we have?  Should we have lain dormant and permitted our settlements to be overrun by the natives, and ourselves by the lawless and most blamable inaction and indifference, characteristic of our lack of interest for the welfare of our existence of an enlightened or civilized people.  If then the people were in duty bound to form and establish some kind of an organization to insure peace, order, protection and prosperity, during the inaction of Congress and having a right to choose for themselves have chosen that form of government which ultimately must and will be acceded to on the part of Congress.

What propriety is there at this late hour of receding to what might have been well enough, it is true, in the first instance, a Territorial Government.  Even now, should we accede to such a proposition before Congress could form and carry it into effect.  Yes long before the first draft could be made upon her treasury to defray the expenses thereof, our overflowing and super abundant population will require that admission which it would be extremely impolitic and inconsistent to deny.  Far preferable it is for us to remain as we are, until Congress shall see proper to admit us as a State.  Do they object to the name of our State?  It is good enough for us who have to wear it.  Do they object to our numbers as being insufficient?  Let them take the census!  Do they object to our boundaries?  Let them leave it to the inhabitants who dwell therein to decide, and if they chose to go into western California, or have a State of their own south of us, so let it be.  What propriety is there in admitting California with her boundaries, when the saying of Gov. Burnett, “That you might as well connect Maine and Texas as California and Deseret” is literally true.  If ever any State had natural boundaries, it is western California, and yet she overleapt them with a rapacity hitherto unequalled and unsurpassed.  We have explored for hundreds of miles in various directions, and find here and there a fertile spot amidst vast deserts and mountain heights; yet, all we have included in our boundaries is accessible for all useful and necessary purposes pertaining to the Government.  We admit that boundary asked for is large, when we consider the area, but if land susceptible of cultivation that will admit of a dense population is taken into consideration, it is not so large, and we are not advised of a single dissenting voice within our proposed boundaries that object to being included therein.

Western California might as well have included the remainder of our settlements and explorations in her boundaries as that of the Little Salt Lake, Rio Virgin, Williams Rancho or western Sahara, one other sufficient reflection.  What propriety or consistency is there in granting us a Territorial and California a State Government, when our actual settlers outnumber them five to three and moreover those who have been expected to locate there are at this moment flowing back upon us by hundreds and thousands.  We admit the potency of gold; but should not a nation be willing, nay seek, to cherish those who are endeavoring to render her most sterile and barren domain productive, who are extending settlements, making improvements and developing the natural resources of hitherto unexplored regions, thereby adding to the national weal, not, it is true, merely in gold, but in the proudest trophies of any enlightened nation, that of civilized society.  But why need we rehearse things manifest in themselves?  These are facts that all are acquainted with, especially the members of Congress who have such extenuated facilities for information.  Why, then will they not act in conformity with their own as well as our interests.  They certainly do not wish to encourage the formation of independent sovereignties within her newly acquired Territories; yet, the lessons we are taking in the school of experience are of that nature, and may, if much longer permitted to exist, produce a distrust for any change.

Let Congress give us a government based, as all Republic Government should be, upon the authority of the people.  Let them decide our boundaries in accordance with the wishes of the actual settlers or residents thereon, upon the principle of common justice, according and guaranteeing unto us those rights and immunities only which are the privilege of American citizens in like or similar circumstances.  This is all we ask; it is all we expect, and this we consider we have a right to claim at the hands of Congress.  This is what we wish you to promote, relying upon your wisdom, ability and integrity.  We feel assured that our cause will be faithfully represented and that Congress will consider the ensuing session as an opportune time to accede unto us that legislation, which has to long been withheld, thus happily terminating your labors in the capacity in which you now stand, and our anxiety in relation to her future course.

With sentiments of high regard, we remain,
Yours respectfully,

Daniel H. Wells,
Parley P. Pratt,
Orson Spencer.

[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sept. 10, 1850, 1-4]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, July 2006]


The General Assembly met and passed Resolutions instructing Agent Dr. John M. Bernhisel and Delegate Almon W. Babbitt to withdraw all Petitions, memorials and applications to Congress for a territorial government for Deseret, and to use all proper means to procure an early admission of Deseret under her constitution into the Union as a state.  Messrs. Daniel H. Wells, Parley P. Pratt, and Orson Spencer were appointed a Committee to write a letter of instructions to the Agent and Delegate.  An Ordinance incorporating the Perpetual Emigrating Company was passed Sept. 14, 1850.

[Deseret News, 1:112]
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sept. 11, 1850, 1]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, July 2006]

Return to Parley P. Pratt in Utah Government