Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Frantic Mormon Lobby

The following item, the next installment of our 'Newspaper Wars Over the Manifesto' series, appeared originally as "A Frantic Mormon Lobby", Salt Lake Tribune 39/249 (26 September 1890): 1.

Me Too Caine Issues a Little "Manifesto" of His Own.


Woodruff's Vagabond "To Whom It May Concern" Bulwarked by Our Delegate With the Usual Rubbish - The Washington Stake of Zion Badly Scared.
The report of the Utah Commission, with its vigorous denunciations of polygamy, still practiced and persistently denied in Utah, has spurred the Mormon lobby in Washington in its depths.  Immediately upon its publication, several days after the announcement of its receipt by the Interior Department, John T. Caine placed himself in communication with the Church, and urged the necessity of a pronunciamento to counteract the effect.

The result was Wilford Woodruff's letter, published this morning, addressed "to whom it may concern," denying that plural marriages are still being solemnized in Utah, and affirming that all the influence of the Church will be used to make the Saints obey the law of the land.

The precious document is emphasized tonight by a letter from the smooth-tongued Caine, who is panic-stricken over the effect which the Commission's report may have upon pending legislation.  His letter, printed in the Evening Star, is as follows:

"There have recently been published in your paper extracts from the last report of the Utah Commission, telegraphed from Salt Lake in advance of its receipt by the Secretary of the Interior.  These convey the idea that polygamous marriages are still being entered into by the Mormons, and that the leaders of the Mormon Church continue to teach and enforce the doctrine and practice upon the adherents of that faith.

"The object of this and similar dispatches about the practice of polygamy among the Mormons is well understood here.  There are pending before Congress two or three bills, which, if enacted into a law would disfranchise every member of the Mormon Church by prescribing a test oath such as no Mormon could conscientiously subscribe to.  This proposed legislation would not affect the polygamous Mormons, they are already disfranchised - can neither vote, hold office, nor sit on juries - but it would apply to the non-polygamous Mormons, the young men of Utah who have never violated the anti-polygamous laws and have taken oaths that they will not do so in the future, who have always been loyal to their country and its laws.  They are to be disfranchised because they will not vote to suit the radical anti-Mormon ring at Salt Lake City.  The minority wish to obtain political control of the Territory, to manipulate its affairs in their interest, to collect and expend the people's taxes and to shape its destiny.  To do this all the non-polygamous Mormons, the sons of the hardy pioneers who discovered and settled that arid region, must be disfranchised for no reason but that some few members of the Mormon Church believe and have heretofore practiced polygamy.

"Knowing as I do that the charges lately made against the Mormons of Utah are false, and that such statements are injurious to them and dangerous to the best interests of the Territory, I take the great pleasure of handing you a declaration of the President of the Mormon Church which I have just received by telegraph from Salt Lake, and request its publication as an act of justice to a much maligned and persecuted people, and as a complete refutation of the malicious statements heretofore published.
Very respectfully,
JOHN T. CAINEDelegate in Congress from the Territory in Utah"
Caine is evidently thoroughly alarmed over the situation, and he may well be.  The Commission report has opened the eyes of many who have heretofore believed that politics have colored the views of those delegated to note the actual situation in Utah, and who now see their mistake.

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