Friday, April 27, 2012

That Manifesto

The following item, presented here as the latest installment of our 'Newspaper Wars Over the Manifesto' series, appeared originally as "That Manifesto", Salt Lake Tribune 39/249 (27 September 1890): 4.
That Manifesto
It is only eight or ten days until the regular semi-annual Mormon conference, and a great many people are wondering why President WOODRUFF put out his manifesto in advance of that conference.  We think it is plain enough why it is done.  One reason is supplied by by the report of the Utah Commission; the other reason is that there will be an election in Idaho, before the Conference meets, and from what we know of the Mormon people there will be an attempt on their part to vote on the ground that they do not belong to any organization that teaches or practices polygamy.  Mr. CAINE writes to the Evening Star in Washington that the object of the dispatches, giving the substance of the report of the Utah Commission, is to crowd through certain legislation now pending before Congress, which if enacted into a law, would disfranchise every member of the Mormon Church by prescribing a test oath which no Mormon could well subscribe to.  It goes on to explain that this proposed legislation would not affect the polygamist Mormon, already disfranchised, but that it would apply to the non-polygamists, the young men of Utah, who have never violated the anti-polygamy law, and have taken oaths that they will not do so in the future; and that the object in disfranchising them is because they will not vote to suit the radical anti-Mormon ring at Salt Lake City.  He further states that this ring wishes to obtain political control of the Territory; to manipulate its affairs in their interest; to collect and expend the people's money, and to shape its destiny.  And he winds up by declaring that he knows 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 Utah.

Now, about the non-Mormons here wishing to obtain control of this Territory, it is just as well to state the absolute fact, which is, not that they would obtain control of this Territory because they want to collect its taxes or to hold its offices; but they do want to break forever in this Territory the political power of the Mormon Church.  That has been their public aim for many years.  They have never deviated from it, and they are quite as conscientious and not nearly so much given to telling untruths as Mr. CAINE himself.  Mr. CAINE has made many a statement in Washington not substantiated by the facts.  And the reason why those Gentiles desire the disfranchisement of Mormons, whether they have been in polygamy or not, is because they are not free agents; they are not citizens of the United States in any legitimate sense.  There are hereditary aliens, and if Utah was a State to-day, without any restraining clauses in its Constitution, the government of the State within six months would be just such a government as the President of the Mormon Church might dictate; the first presidency would nominate every officer, the people would vote solidly for the nominees.  The Legislature would pass no law until it was first submitted to the first presidency for approval.  It would be the same in the government of the cities.  The government of the State would be that of a perfect theocracy.  The Mormon chiefs have been plotting and planning this for fifty years; and it is to make any such thing as that impossible that the Gentiles have been working and will continue to until that terror shall have been taken away, from this Territory.

There is nothing, when we come to examine it closely, in this manifesto of President WOODRUFF.  He merely says that he advises his people not to engage in polygamy, since the law against it has been declared constitutional.  That law was declared Constitutional by the Supreme Court years ago, and since then the predecessor of President WOODRUFF, in a manifesto very much more imposing than this, declared that for the Saints to abandon polygamy would be damnation.  In this manifesto President WOODRUFF cautiously advises the people.  That is not the style in which manifestos are given to the Mormon people by their chiefs.  That law was the last time declared Constitutional prior to the meeting of last April's conference, and yet at that Conference the same old exactions were insisted upon, the same discipline, the same rules; and there was not one breath of anything that looked like giving up polygamy or of relaxing in the slightest one tenet of their faith.

Hence, we believe, and it is with a feeling which is conclusive evidence on our part, that his manifesto was not intended to be accepted as a command by the President of the Church, but as a little bit of harmless dodging to deceive the people of the East, and especially the men in Congress.  Hence, we say that the Republicans in Congress, on the strength of that proclamation alone, ought to pick up the Struble bill and make it the law at once.  It is not a hardship to deny aliens the right of casting a ballot, or of holding office.  And it will be just as easy after that bill shall have been passed for Mormons to set themselves right, to become citizens of the United States, as it is for any other set of aliens whose homes are in this country.

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