The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on Mormonism. An extremely contentious issue at the time which inspired much suspicion (see Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1887 novel ‘A Study in Scarlet’.
The Mormon Question.
One of the greatest questions now agitating the people of this country is, Shall Mormonless be permitted to continue its baneful, pernicious, and unholy despotism in this country, or shall we blot out for ever this deep stain on America’s [illegible]? Utah, the land of the Mormons, lies to the far west, almost direct west from New York. It s for the most part in a deep basin, surrounded by high mountains—the Great Salt Lake basin—and the lakes and rivers have no outlet. The Great Salt Lake is 100 miles long and 50 broad. There are 84,000 square miles in the territory. The soil is fertile and the climate, though dry and cool, is very healthy. About three-fourths dry and cool, is very healthy. About three-fourths of the inhabitants are Mormons. At the present time there are about 125,000 Mormons in Utah, and in the neighbouring States or territories 35,000 more. Some of your readers may not know to what extent this brutalising system is allowed to go on here. A celebrated New York preacher, the Rev. Dr Newman, speaking of Mormonism recently, said:—“Mormonism is a political body in the disguise of a church. It s a nullification, disloyalty, treason. It is a despotism, and the head of the Church is the despot. His immediate kingdom is Utah, with 150,000 deluded people; his remote kingdom is the world, and all men are his subjects. He is styled ‘prophet,’ ‘seer,’ and ‘revelator,’ and assumes that he is the only mediator through whom Jehovah reveals His will to man. He assumes infallibility, and claims the right to direct everything, from the slightest matter to the most important. The Mormons are bound to consult him. He claims the exclusive right to marry and to divorce. Each Mormon is required to pay one-tenth of his possessions when he enters the Church, and thereafter to pay one-tenth of his annual increases. This amount is paid over in trust for the saints to the President of the Church, who is to-day the richest man in America. As a civil and an ecclesiastical ruler the head of Mormondom claims the right to sentence offenders to death, and the twelve apostles believe in slaying the Lord’s enemies, no matter whom they may be. Mormonism is anti-republican. It is a kingdom within our Republic. It is a despotism under our own flag. It dreams of the conquest of the world. Polygamy is an incidental evil of this monstrous political despotism in our midst. We are reaping the evils of procrastination. We have dallied with this iniquity till it now alarms us. We esteemed Mormonism a standing joke to be laughed out of existence, but to-day it commands out most serious attention. We said it would succumb to the march of civilisation. In 1850 we organised a Territorial Government composed of Mormons, and thus recognised the Government. We have allowed the national domain to be parcelled out by that Territorial Legislature, and most of it by fraud. We have suffered emigrants to enter Utah from all lands. We have consented that all such persons should be clothed with the rights of citizenship, and we have permitted the women of that Territory to be invested with the power of the ballot, which women are white slaves. We have waited till the enemy is organised into secret military forces in the possession of arms, and who are now drilling for their advance. Nay, more, for ten years Republicans and Democrats have sat in Congress with a Mormon and a polygamist, who has recently flaunted in the face of the nation his contempt for the law of 1862. These are out delinquencies.” Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America—No. 10.’ (22 April, 1882)”