The following item, the fourth installment in our 'Newspaper Wars Over the Manifesto' series, appeared originally as "The Latest 'Liberal' Trick Exposed", Deseret Evening News 23/261 (26 September 1890): 2. Caine's letter also made up the body of an article on the front page of the same day's Salt Lake Herald, with no commentary of substance.
The Latest "Liberal" Trick Exposed
We learn by telegraph that the Delegate from Utah has addressed a communication to the Washington Evening Star, the most popular journal published at the Capital. It is as follows, and appeared in that paper last night, with the Official Declaration of President Wilford Woodruff:
Editor of the Evening Star:
"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.
JOHN T. CAINE"
The purpose of sending from this point garbled extracts from the Report of the Utah Commission, was clear to thinking people in Utah when the papers containing them reached this city. It is correctly defined by Delegate Caine in his pungent letter to the Washington Star.
Before the document was filed with the Secretary of the Interior, it was published in mutilated form in Salt Lake, and the dispatch fiend found in it ample opportunities for the exercise of its peculiar forte. Remarks made by the Commission as published, appeared in a distorted form in eastern papers as dispatches from Salt Lake City, dated September 17th. Language was thus attributed to the Commission which they did not use, and sentences were given without the explanatory context. All this was to stir up anew the ignorant prejudice against the "Mormons" prevailing in the country, and form an excuse for certain Congressman to move for the bringing forward of the measures that have been sleeping, designed to consummate the theft of the Church property and to deprive the law-obeying "Mormons" of the right of suffrage.
The immediate object in view is the carrying of the November election. The recent exposure of "Liberal["] methods at the polls, the probability of the prosecution of some of the scoundrels who have helped to cheat honest citizens out of their votes, and open the way for non-residents to cast illegal votes for "Liberal" candidates, and the likelihood that further frauds will be rather dangerous to the perpetrators, make the "Liberal" prospects in November very dark and unpromising. Something desperate had to be done in order to bring the accomplishment of the "Liberal" scheme within the bounds of possibility.
It had been fondly hoped that one of the disfranchisement bills would have been pushed through Congress in time to exclude all the "Mormon" votes from the ballot box. But the shelving of these measures and the widespread dislike among Congressment to such drastic expedients, made the conspirators in this city sick at the stomach. The Utah Commissioners' report furnished a probable antidote. So it was culled and clipped, and such parts of it as suited the plotters and made them feel more comfortable, were wired, and the Associated Press helped to scatter the scraps of misinformation throughout the land.
Take these sentences as examples:
"The Commissioners say that the practice of polygamy is rather on the increase than the decrease and that the doctrine is taught in all the Mormon Churches."
That is from a Salt Lake City dispatch of Sept. 17th in the Chicago News. The annexed is from the Cleveland Plain Dealer and has the same origin and date:
"The commission believes that more than eighty plural marriages have been contracted since June 1890 and only a small proportion have been reported."
These are not press comments or items of news given by these papers, but they appear in the regular press dispatches from Salt Lake. We repeat that we do not believe the Commissioners have said anything of the kind. But we do believe that these falsehoods were sent from this city with malicious intent, misrepresenting the Commission, deceiving the public and maligning the "Mormons," which is the dispatch fiend's greatest delight.
But whether the Commissioners said this or not; whether they so worded their report as to give an excuse for these statements or not; whether the statements picked out isolated sentences to telegraph, garbled and misquoted them or not; they convey that which is totally untrue and they have been published with vile and wicked intent.
The official declaration of President Woodruff should be a sufficient refutation of these calumnies, wherever they originated. Of course it will not suit the fanatics who can see no good in those who differ from them, nor the malignant creatures who feed and fatten on anti-"Mormonism," and whose stock in trade is the cry of "polygamy." Nothing that could be done or said would satisfy them, and least of all are they pleased with any settlement of the polygamy question. That means the death-knell of their hackneyed arguments, stale falsehoods and mouldy sophisms.
The Utah Commission have, no doubt, as they have done before, given the unsupported guesses of some of their registrars in regard to supposed polygamous marriages, and these have been telegraphed as the official statements of the Commission. When the report is filed with the Secretary of the Interior and comes to hand, we will deal with it on its merits. We do not care to treat anything that may be prematurely published, here or elsewhere, by known garblers, professional falsifiers and political stricksters, as the utterances of any respectable person or body. As to the facts at issue, President Woodruff's declaration sets them at rest beyond a reasonable doubt.