We come now to the history and last chapter of the persecutions against the Mormons, commenced under the administration of Grant, and like the history of Louisiana, South Carolina and other Southern States, “it is a history of repeated wrongs.” It began with the appointment of Wils. Shaffer, late of Freeport, Illinois, as Governor of Utah, in the year 1869-70; and that of George A. Black, Secretary, a mere boy, from the same place, who had prepared himself to act as Governor of this Territory, by a long and faithful service as a member of a minstrel troupe. Shaffer’s qualifications were that he had served under Ben. Butler during the war. Went out with empty hands and purse, but on his return built, at Freeport, the largest and most expensive house in all that part of Illinois; and while a jolly good fellow, could drink deeper and oftener than any other man in the grand army—not even excepting the commanding General himself. Shaffer came here, and at once signalized his official career by having the Hon. Chas. L. Wilson, Chief Justice, removed because he would not violate law and decide questions in court in accordance with his Executive demands; and Grant, regarding the judges in a Territory as mere members of the Governor’s staff, in order to make it a military unit, removed the only honest and capable Judge then on the bench. During the Governor’s illness, or absence, the 4th of July came around, and the Mormons and conservative Gentiles proposed an old-fashioned celebration of the day, when the Mormon Legion would constitute the military escort; whereupon Secretary Black, as acting governor, issued a proclamation, forbidding any such demonstration, and actually applied to Col. DeTrobriand, in command of the Thirteenth Infantry, then stationed here, to fire upon the Mormons should they dare to commit the high crime of celebrating the 4th of July. The celebration was broken up, but a few members of the battalion came out as an escort for some little girls, and were seized and arrested for high treason, locked up in Camp Douglas for a long period on the order and warrant of a judicial Dogberry, himself a bigamist from Chicago. Congressman Dawes spent that 4th of July at Ogden, and was fully informed of all these outrages, but no action has ever been taken upon them. Grant’s Governor and Secretary committed them, and since that period no disinterested Judge has ever sat on the Bench here, and no legal grand or petit jury has ever been drawn in this judicial district. Whenever that time comes, Messrs. Secretary Black and his coadjutors, who committed these outrages, false imprisonments and malicious prosecutions, will have an opportunity in court to answer therefor. In the meantime, a new spirit appeared upon the field, and having first taken possession of the President’s and his lady’s confidence, came here to convert or convict this 125,000 people. That man was a religious and political Jesuit, by the name of Newman, who had the entree of the White House at all hours; made music for its inmates with his chimes over the Methodist Church, which he desecrated; who literally “stole the livery of Heaven to serve the devil in,” and who, having first organized the conservative Republican party in New Orleans, established a conservative paper called the Times there; received $800 from the conservative Legislature to publish its records, and then sold out, became the most radical of all the New Orleans carpet baggers, and rushed to Washington to help Kellogg and Durell trample upon the rights of the people; and who, finally made an incursion into this valley. His avowed purpose was to preach down polygamy; and President Young, as is his habit, invited him to preach in the Tabernacle, which seats comfortably 13,500 people, and when crowded will contain 15,000, and where Orson Pratt, the most learned and able of the Mormon priests, would reply to him. A debate or discussion was arranged, and Father Brigham sounded his ram’s horn, and from mountain and valley, from canyon and gorge, from city and country, young and old, all men and women, of all castes, colors and conditions, were summoned to the conflict. The Tabernacle was crowded, the great organ pealed out its notes, the choir, composed of 200 female voices, led by a soprano of surpassing richness and volume of voice, and 160 male voices, sang the loud anthem, when Brother Newman began; and with all his own sermons, and those he had purloined from others, he preached and exhorted, he argued and ranted, he prayed and he raved to his heart’s content, until his mind and words were exhausted. Now came Orson Pratt, armed, like David in his fight with Goliath, with a single stone; but that was the Bible—the Gentile Bible; the Mormon Bible; for they are but one and the same, The book inspired by God; the word of God; this and nothing more. Holding up this inspired book he demanded of his opponent that he should now admit, or deny in the presence of that excited audience, that this book, both Old and New Testaments, was the word of God! After much evasion, hesitation, equivocation, like Count Fosco before the District Committee of Congress, the Jesuit Newman was compelled to admit that the big book was the word of God, and all that therein is was inspired of Him. Fatal concession! Hopeless surrender of the key of the entire position. Orson Pratt, rising in all his majesty, first holding the book on high, then lays it on the pulpit, and reads page after page, chapter after chapter, line upon line, giving the history of the prophets and chosen sons of God, whose wives and concubines, compare to these Mormons, were like the sands upon the sea shore contrasted with the sails which float upon its bosom. The dullest in all that crowd, the most ignorant and unlearned Mormon, could understand the argument and logic, and the triumph was complete. If God approved of and sanctioned polygamy; if his chosen servants, his prophets and his anointed kings could with his smiles and approbation, indulge in plurality of wives; if Christ never, in any manner, discountenanced what had always existed under the former dispensation, why should not President Young, the Prophet of the Lord, as they believe, do likewise? Why should he be abused, vilified, persecuted, imprisoned, for living a life in strict coincidence with David and Isaiah and Solomon, and all the heroes of the Old Testament? Newman was beaten, conquered, overcome, not by Orson Pratt, not by Brigham Young, but by the Bible, the inspired book of God, and, like Catiline, he fled, he absconded, he escaped, he rushed back to the White House to ask new powers, to secure new weapons, to find new arguments with which to conquer this stiff-necked people who understood the Bible better than he did, and who justified polygamy by the very words of God himself. The President, mourning over the disaster and defeat of his chaplain, his confessor, his spiritual pastor and master, was only too willing to arm him with new weapons, to clothe him with new powers, and to start him once more on his crusade against this people. What next occurred, we shall see.—Industrial Age.
[Transcribed by Dorrie Lee and DeeAnn Pratt, Apr. 2012]