[From The Mormons by Gunnison, 1852]
SUCH then is the general appearance of the country settled by the Mormons, and for a minute description, I beg leave to refer to the able report of the Surveying Expedition by Capt. H. Stansbury put before Congress. But the peculiar character of the founders of Deseret, their energy, union and hopes, stimulated by their religious views, more especially demand our notice; and this subject is equally interesting to the politician, the philosopher, and the theologian. We found them, in 1849, organised into a state with all the order of legislative, judicial, and executive offices regularly filled, under a constitution eminently republican in sentiment, and tolerant in religion; and though the authority of Congress has not yet sanctioned this form of government, presented and petitioned for, they proceed quietly with all the routine of an organized-selfgoverning people, under the title of a Territory;being satisfied to abide their time, in accession of strength by numbers, when they may be deemed fit to take a sovereign position; being contented so long as allowed to enjoy the substance, under the shadow of a name. They lay and collect taxes, raise and equip troops for protection, in full sovereignty, on the soil they helped to conquer first, and subdue to use afterward.
While professing a complete divorce of church and state, their political character and administration is made subservient to the theocratical or religious element. They delight to call their system of government, a " Theo-Democracy;" and that, in a civil capacity, they stand as the Israelites of old under Moses. For the rule of those not fully imbued with the spirit of obedience, and sojourners not of the bible, as well as for things purely temporal, tribunals of justice, and law-making assemblies, are at present rendered necessary. But the rules and regulations vouchsafed from the throne of Heaven are fixed and unchangeable which have preceded all present necessities, and by them are they guided in the manner of providing for, and executing temporal affairs:so that those holding the revelations of God's Will, are the ones who make laws according to Truth' and the rulers or executors are clothed in Righteousness, and the end is Peace. In fact, their President of the church is the temporal civil governor because he is the Seer of the Lord, and rules in virtue of that prophetic right over the home and Catholic " Latter-Day Saints of the Church of Jesus Christ," usually styled the Mormons. And should one bc assigned to them, not of their creed, or other than their chief, he would find himself without occupation. He probably would be received with all due courtesy as a distinguished personage, cordially received in social intercourse so long as his demeanor pleased the influential members and people:but as Governorto use their own expressive phrase,"he would be let severely alone.' Were he to convoke an assembly, and order an election, no attention would be paid to it, and he would be subjected to the mortification of seeing a legislature chosen at a different time, charting statutes, or else the old ones continued, and those laws enforced and the cases arising from their conflict adjudicated, by the present tribunals of justice, under their own judges. This certainly hat been proclaimed as their determined policy, though there migh arise circumstances that would cause them to dissemble for a time and the peaceful character of the people would be assigned as the reason why no other burden was thrown upon foreign functionaries; than the labor of drawing their salaries from the distant treasury The dignity and the form of courts might easily obtain, to which Gentile sojourners or emigrants could resort, but the members of the Latter-Day Church would know nothing about them; their causes are to be settled in the church and not go to law out of it The church is the court for doctrinal errorfor other offence they have the statutes of Descret, and what they call " Common Mountain Law."
For, among themselves, all disputes are to be settled under . "church" organization' to which is attached the civil jurisdiction with officers, from the inferior justice of the peace up to the Governor. But the justice is a Bishop of a ward in the city or precinct of the town or county; the Judges on the bench of the superior courts are constituted from the High Priests, from the quorums of seventies, or from the college of the Apostles; and the Seer is the highest ruler and consulting Judge. A double name is therefore required, by whiol1 the same persons execute the functions in their different official capacities, according as they relate to prescribed civil or spiritual matters, except on opinions, or purity of faith. Even the legislature can make no law upon, or regulating what is given in " Revelations " to the prophet, only so far as is necessary to carry them into effect in social transactions.
The entire management is under the Presidency, which consists of three persons, the Seer and two counsellors. It is this board that governs their universal church; called universal because they claim to have preached in almost every nation, and in the United States in each congressional district; and have gathered societies called "Stakes of Zion," arranged on the model Of their home assembly' on the islands of the ocean and either continentand all are to obey the Presidency; at home in all things, and abroad in spiritual things, independent of every considerationand the converts are commanded "to gather, gather, gather to the mountains," as fast as convenient and compatible with their character and situation. They have made an exception in favor of the Pacific islanders, of whom they claim to have many thousands, whose effeminacy and habits unfit them for the labors and rugged climate of the rocky lands to whom several American families have been sent, to reside among and superintend them.
The number of inhabitants in the mountains has been greatly over-estimated, but there are probably in Utah and on the frontier of the states, ready to move up the coming year, about thirty thousand; and the number is fast increasing by the influx from England, Wales, and from the continent of Europe; every possible effort is made to bring up the emigrants, and swell the numerical strength to a position that can demand the independent place of a state in the Uniongreat inducement is held out, by guaranteeing wages for a fixed term of years to all superior and practical workmen in textile fabrics, in cutlery and machinery, no matter what shall be their religious belief.
This people are there under assumed prophetic direction, and it is not amiss to glance at their origin, and the means by which this late desert and solitary wilderness is now blossoming under the hand of this peaceful, industrious, and harmonious community.
The founder of the Mormon Sect was Joseph Smith, a native of Vermont, who emigrated when quite young in his father's family to Western New-York. According to his autobiography, published in a series of letters, he was of a religious turn of wind, and, when seventeen years of age, became greatly interested in the "revivals of religion," often occurring among the "denominations" in that section of country. In one of these times his feelings were so powerfully wrought upon that he gave himself up to continued prayer for some days and meditating still at night, he at length arose while all the family were hushed in sleep, and poured forth his soul, "agonising" to have made known to him the truth. among the conflicting opinions he heard by the various sects. The apartment became suddenly illuminated, and an angel appeared and conversed familiarly with him, and instructed him in the way of righteousness; informing him also that there was no true church upon the earth. The doctrine taught on this point is, that the church which was once established, had fallen under the rule given by the prophet, and had " changed the ordinances," " broken the everlasting covenant," and "corrupted the faith;" for which cause it was removed from earthor, in their figurative expression "the man child was caught up into heaven," which means that the priesthood was taLcn away fifteen hundred years ago. And Joseph was told that his prayers were heard and registered in the books on high, and that being dearly beloved of the Lord he should be commissioned a priest after the order of Melchisedek and restore that line among men, organizing a church of faithful persons, to receive the Lord in the Millenium, which time should be hastened according to their degree of ~ I gay ,,fait,'~, for he was determined "to cut the work short in righteousness." In after visits he was further instructed that "truth should spring out of the earth"(Ps.)and that, accordingly, he should be conducted to the hill Cumorra, in Palmyra, New York, and receive from out the ground holy and prophetic records concerning a family of Jews that emigrated from Jerusalem in the time of Zedehiah, and were miraculously led to America, across the eastern ocean.
On being guided to the spot, he found a square stone box eight inches high, covered with a slab, cemented upon it; and made repeated trials to open it. He was struck back by an invisible blow, and informed, in answer to his earnest prayer, that the want of success was owing to his listening to the suggestions of Satan, who had walked at his elbow on the way, and had made him resolve to make use of the golden plates on which the records were engraved, as well as the contents when published, to advance his temporal fortunes. This was sinto think he should become famous was unholy ambition; that he should be rich and powerful thereby, was avarice.
But, on sincere repentance and submission, four years after, the contents of the box were shown to him, the angel opening it; which consisted of the " Sword of Laban," brought frown Jerusalem, a breastplate and two stones, "bright and shining," and golden plates engraved with characters' and united at the backs by rings. A portion of the records was received, constituting the Book of Mormon, in which are depicted, much in the style of the Bible Chronicles, the various fortunes of the four brothers of the emigrating family, and of their descendantshow some tribes were evil in their practices, despising reproof, and became cursed with a dark skin and loathsome habits, and were made scourges to others when falling away from the truththe sayings, teachings, and warnings of their prophets, who foretold by Once the advent of the Savior of the worldthe organisation among the purer people on this continent, of a church by Christ, who came down to them after his ascension at Jerusalem' and gave them his gospel nearly in the words of the Sermon on the Mount, and how that for apostasy these Christians were finally destroyed by the Gadianton robbers and the red menthe last prophet, Morani by name, sealing up the Records, and depositing them with the sword, Urim and Thummim, and breastplate, at Cumorah, there to remain until "the fullness of time" should demand their exhumation; and which should be brought forth, "by way of Gentile," for the "convincing of both Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ." (See preface' B. Mormon.)
the restoring angel was the spirit of this same Morani, the son of Mormon the Seer, who had made a compendium of the holy writings and delivered them to him; and Joseph, now constituted the Seer, by means of the Urim and Thummim, placed in a bow and looked through upon the plates, began their translation, and preached the news of his important mission A convert, named Cowdery, baptized him, it being so commanded by the angel, in order that a beginning should be made; and the prophet then baptised his convert. At this ceremony in the woods of Pennsylvania, in the clear Susquchannah' or one of its branches, there were present, to approve of this necessity, and by their sanctions remit irregularity, the angels or spirits of Moses and Elias of the old dispensation; as also Peter, James, and John of the new.* In 1830 the first organisation was made in Manchester, New York, and that is the Epoch of the New Church of the LatterDay Saints. Revelations were made to Joseph, and certain men were designated by the revelator for missionary labor, and cos\crts increased; or, as one of the members of that day, and an apostle now, said, "the word of the Lord greatly grew and magnified, and many were obedient to the faith"and soon we find that at Kirtland, Ohio, a temple was in process of building.
~ Book Doc. and Cov. 2,.
But, for certain reasons, hereafter to be developed, this place was abandoned, and a spot designated by revelation in Missouri, was declared to be intended for them' as their inheritancefor there was the New Jerusalem to be built by the saints, after a pattern sent down from heaven, and upon the spot where the garden of Eden bloomed' and Adam was formed." The altar on which Adam did sacrifice' was shown to Joseph' at least some of the stones of which it was built; and, on the north side of the river, a city has located in the place Where Adam blessed his children.
In that state' cruel persecutions followeddriven from Zion, they took refuge in adjoining countriesand again crimes of a dark dye were alleged against them; the leaders were imprisoned for treason, and they aver that in one jail they were furnished with human flesh for food: the flesh of their own slaughtered comrades. They suffered greatly; and finally, expelled by force of law and the mob, they took refuge in Illinois, and began the building of a temple in the city of Nauvoo; a city which in a few years had twenty thousand inhabitants. But, though caressed for a time, they fell under suspicion, as they allege, most unjustly, of account of the flocking in of horse-thieves and counterfeiters, who carried on secretly their nefarious plans, as in other towns; and all the crimes committed in the country around were maliciously attributed to them. It ended in the murder of Joseph, the Seer, and Hyrum, the Patriarch, by the mob at Carthage jail in 1844, and the re-organization of the major part of the society, under Brigham Young, as the Lord's Prophet and Seer to the Saints, to receive the revelations for them in a church capacity with the title of First President.
A temporary lull ensued in the tempest of persecution, but the storm gathered force again. Such threats were made, that it was necessary to seek another home. A prophecy having been made by the present venerable patriarch, and the rule of the late seer, that they must retire to the wilderness and to endure perils and tribulations for a time, before their final triumph over their foes, a delegation was dispatched to the mountains; and Salt Lake valley was selected, in the far-off California of Mexico, as a resting place.
Under the conduct of " Brigham the Seer" a colony of 4000 persons was planted there in 1847the Presidency arrlsed on the 24th of July, which day was one of joy and gladness, and its anniversaries are to be held in great esteem, and celebrated with rejoicings evermore. In five days a large tract was ploughed, planted with potatoes, and the city-creek dammed, and irrigating ditches filled; and the spot on which they first rested being the most eligible site in the valley, a city was immediately laid out. A fort enclosing about forty acres, was built, by facing log-houses inward, and picketing four gateways on each side of the square, making a line nearly a mile and a half in lengththe timber being hauled several miles, and cut in the distant Canyons.
The land was consecrated by solemn ceremonies to the Lord and his saints, and a permanent location made on territory, to which none of the wandering tribes of Indians could show a title, which they thought of such validity, that they ought to purchase its or make remuneration to them for its occupancy.
During the following year, every month was so mild that they ploughed and sowed in each,but though the winter was auspicious and all things so favorable' they were so reduced in provisions as to eat the hides of the slaughtered animals, and eagerly searched them out of the ditches, and tore them from the roofs of the houses, to boil them for the table, and they dug side by side with the miserable Utes for the wild roots used by them for food. But the most formidable enemy they had to contend with, as the crops were nearing maturity, was the army of black, ungainly crickets " a frightful bug," as a Liverpool sojourner called it when first he saw one:which, descending from the mountain-sides, destroyed every green herb in their way. In vain did the sorrowful farmers surround their fields with trenches, and fill them with water; the black host, leaping in, floated over, and with wonderful instinct, kept on the course of march' and mounting up the wheat-stalk, would cut it off at the curve which was bent by the weight of the f nit more precious than golden seeds. Whole families might be seen standing guard with branches and boards in their hands, uttering loud Shouts' and endeavoring to turn back and beat off the invaders. In some instances, they succeeded in changing the direction of the match along the streams, and destroyed many in the waters, but it was only a partial relief on a few points of attack.
But better defenders soon came to their aid. These were the most beautiful birds of the valley, the glossy white gulls, with bright red beaks and feet; dovelike in form and motion, with plumage of downy texture and softness. After the first moulting of the ericlets, they came in flocks to feast on the banquet which was so bountifully spread for their reception. In early dawn' they rise from the nesting islands of the Great Lake and gliding through the air, gracefully alight on the smooth and gentle slopes at the last of the terraces at the mountains' base and feast the livelong day.
Luxurious like their Roman prototypes, when filled to satiety, they disgorge the meal, and return with renewed appetites to the plentiful repast; and just as the sun touches the highest mountain peaks in the ranges of the Great Salt Desert to the West, they expand their long wings, and soar away in countless multitudes to their insular retreats, secure from molestation. A few vigilant sentinels pass to and fro during the day, watchful of the callow young; caring for their wants, and conveying intelligence seemingly to the old and the young, at home and abroad, that " all's well." Since that season, the crops of the Mormons have amply met their wants; protection to their fickle is more perfect, and the assiduous gulls continue their annual visit, which at first was supposed miraculous; and for the three past years there has been a surplus of food, which was sold to the gold emigrants at a less price than at fort Laramie, four hundred miles nearer the States.
Their admirable system of combining labor, while each has his own property, in land and tenements, and the proceeds of his industry, the skill in dividing off the lands, and conducting the irrigating equals to supply the want of water, which rarely falls between April and October,the cheerful manner in which every one applies himself industriously, but not laboriously: The complete reign of good neighborhood and quiet in house and fields, form themes for admiration to the stranger coming from the dark and sterile recesses of the mountain gorges into this flourishing valley:and he is struck with wonder at the immense results' produced in so short a time by a handful of individuals.
This is the result of the guidance of all those hands by one master mind; and we see a comfortable people residing where, It is not too much to say, the ordinary mode of subduing and settling our wild lands could never have been applied.
To accomplish this, there was required religious fervor, with the flame fanned by the breezes of enthusiasmthe encircling of bands into the closest union, by the outward pressure of persecutionthe high hopes of laying up a prospective reward, and returning to their deserted homes in great prosperitythe belief of re-enacting the journey of the Israelitish church under another Moses, through the Egypt already passed, to arrive at another Jerusalem, more heavenly in its origin, and beautiful in its proportions and decorations.
Single families on that line of travel would have starved or fallen by the treachery of the Sioux, the cunning of the Crows and Shoshones, or the hatred of the savage Utahs. Concert and courage of the best kind were required and brought into the field, and the result is before usto their own minds as the direct blessing and interposition of Providence, to others the natural reward of associated industry and perseverance.
Four other colonies have branched off from this parent one, and cities with thickly populated and rapidly growing suburbs, extend on a line of two hundred miles, from Box Elder creek on the north, to the Little Salt Lake on the south, and thence towards San Diego: at the turn of the Nevada Mountain, a rancho has been purchased and a station made, soon to be followed by others; whereby a chain of posts will be established for the convenience of receiving their emigration by way of a seaport on the Pacific.
The Great Salt Lake City was laid out into squares in 1847; the streets are one hundred and thirty-two feet wide, with twenty feet side-walks, and the City creek divided to run along each wall and water a colonnade of trees, and also to be led into the gardens. The hits contain each nearly an acre, and flee on alternate streets with eight lots in each block).
The site is on a scarcely perceptible slope, except the northern part, which rises upon the first natural terrace, and lies in the angle of the main Wahsatch range, running north and south, and a giant spur that makes out directly to the v, est. and terminates one half mile from the Jordan River. The city is four miles square, and touches the river bank on the west side. It can be watered by several creeks, and a canal twelve miles long, to cross three other streams, is constructed; to bring the Big Cottonwood along the eastern terrace to the present capital of this new empire.
Forty miles north is Ogden City, beautifully located near the junction of Ogden and Weber riversand sixty miles south is another flat, soon to be occupied, on the Timpanogos; and thence one hundred and thirty miles in the same direction, is the city of Nlanti, and settlement of the San Pete Valley. Paroan, or Iron City, so named from the abundance of ore' and facilities for procuring fuel for their furnaces, is in the valley of the Little Salt Lake, where it is reported that a much larger body of irrigable land is found than in that first settled.
In Tuilla Valley, thirty miles west of the temple, is a settlement; and there are now in successful operation ten saw and five grist mills, and others erecting in all the newer locations. At large, commodious state-house was completed in 1850; and a wooden railway laid to the Red Butte quarries, finer miles distant, for transporting the fine red sandstone to the Temple Block, where a gorgeous pile is to be erected, which shall surpass in magnificence any yet built by man, and which shall be second only to that finally to be constructed by themselves' when the Presidency shall be installed at the New Jerusalem, on the temple site of Zion.
To the north of Temple Block, and close by, towers up and overlooks the Temple City, the " Ensign Mound." It terminates the great spur, and is conspicuous in approaching the city, from every quarter. On this mountain peak there is soon to be unfurled the most magnificent flag ever thrown to the breeze' constructed out of the banner flags of all peoples. Joined in symbolical unity, "the flag of all nations" shall wave above the sacred temple; then shall they verify the decree given by the prophet Isaiah(Ch. ii. 18, 25.)" All ye inhabitants o the world and dwellers upon earth, see ye, when he lifteth up a ensign upon the mountainsand he Will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earthand it shall come to pass in the last days that the mour fain of the Lord's house shall be established in the tops of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nation shall flow into it."
Their comparative comfort and degree of prosperity is significantly shown by the fact that they canvassed the country, to ascertain how many inmates there would be for a poor-house, an finding only two disposed to ask public bounty, they conclude that it was not yet time to build a house of charity: and this among the thousands who, three years before, were deprived of their property, and could, with the utmost difficulty, transport their families into the valley.