« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
wealth, land, labor, and capital, were to become the property of the church, and to be managed at its discretion. The proposition did not meet with the unanimous unquestioning acceptance which had generally been given to the calls of the church. There was considerable reluctance on the part of some of the more thrifty and successful saints to give up all that they possessed. But the church pressed hard. The most eminent apostles and bishops traveled from village to village preaching with unwonted fervor, making glowing promises, and stimulating the faith of the people. Their success was great. The order was established in every town and village in Utah, and though there were some recalcitrants, the people as a whole surrendered all to the church; their little boards of cash and their maturing crops, their horses, cattle, and sheep, their wagons, harness, plows, and harrows, their churns, sewing-machines, and cooking stoves. The result was what might have been expected-speedy and general bankruptcy.
Although the ascendency of the church over the people is very great, the priesthood have felt with increasing pressure a countervailing influence. It comes from circumstances directly connected with their own growth and development. So long as the Mormons were not populous; so long as they were poor and dependent upon mutual help and co-operation; so long as their industries were domestic, agricultural, and pastoral only, the complete control by a hierarchy was an easy matter. But with increasing population and wealth, with the opening of mines of gold, silver, coal, and iron, with the construction of many railways and the diversification of industry, the task becomes far more difficult. The personal and patriarchal government of the priest, who has only to declare to a confiding but poor and ignorant congregation, "Thus saith the Lord," to gain willing obedience, is not calculated to succeed so well in a community of higher intelligence and much greater wealth. Important interests, accumulated capital, diversified industry, cannot, in the nature of things, be subject to the arbitrary and capricious rule of a dictator who has no higher warrant for his dictum than the "Book of Covenants" or the revelation of some prophet in Salt Lake City. Large communities and important interests can be
safely regulated only by fixed laws, which must have the stable character of statutes; and their application must be made with the colorless, passionless logic which is supposed to characterize the judicial bench. The leading Mormons recognize the changing status of the problem; nay, they are keenly alive to it. But their difficulties are greatly multiplied by the fact that Utah is not a sovereign State, competent to make its own laws. Perceiving the necessity of a more civilized machinery of gov ernment and of substituting statutory for arbitrary control, the Mormons are anxious to make their own statutes and appoint their own officers to execute them. So great is the desire to obtain the sovereign powers of a State that they are willing to provide the strongest possible constitutional guarantees for the prohibition of polygamy. In other words, the Mormon offers to trade off his polygamy in exchange for the right to make laws for himself, and thus get rid of all possible interference by the general government. In brief, he promises to give up polygamy if the United States Government will let him alone. With respect to this proposition, it may be said that all that any territorial population wants of statehood is the privilege of making its own laws, electing its own officers, and regulating its own internal affairs subject to the Constitution of the United States, and that the Mormons ask no more. Why, therefore, should it be refused them? The answer is simple enough. The other Territories which have become States have had populations whose aims and purposes, whose temper and aspirations, whose social and political ideas were in harmony with those of the States already united. Not only were the State constitutions professedly republican in form, but they expressed the true feeling and polity of the communities which framed them. Thus every new State brought with it an accession of strength and a new bond to the Union, a reinforcement of national power and national harmony. In the case of Utah the prospect is that, if it were made a State, a hostile power would be erected in the heart of our domain. Though the written instrument of the constitution might breathe the spirit of Hamilton or Jefferson, the Mormon people would breathe the spirit of Brigham Young. It might be republican enough in profession; the practice of the
proposed State would inevitably be hierarchic. The aims and aspirations of the Mormons are in complete contrast with those of the rest of the people. Their kingdom is not of this earth. To them there are but two classes of people in the world, Mor mons and Gentiles; and between Mormon and Gentile there is, in their estimation, a never-ending succession of war and truce, but never anything like peace and good will, much less anything like true union and co-operation.
The proposed constitution of Utah would prove to be a mere delusion. In saying this I do not mean to accuse the Mormons of deliberate treachery or falsehood, nor even to impugn their sincerity. Quite probably they are willing to make large promises to secure independence, and with every intention of keeping them. But a community or people is not like an individual. No man can bind his children; no generation can bind the next; no official can bind his successor in office. But, what is still more to the purpose, the convictions, longings, and aspirations of a people can no more be controlled by constitutions or codes of law in opposition to those convictions than the tides of the ocean can be suppressed by act of Congress. A law, whether organic or statutory, which has not an overwhelming public sentiment behind it, is a practical nullity, unless indeed it is enforced by a despotic government backed by a resistless military power. Whatever promises, therefore, may now be made, we may be sure will be forgotten when the object for which they are made has been irrevocably gained. Those who make these promises are promising more than they can perform.
The people of Utah are unfit for statehood. Suffrage there is a farce. The Mormon is told by his bishop for whom he must vote, and he obeys. There are never two parties among them; nay, there is not even one. Thus the very foundation of republican government is a mere shadow without substance. Suffrage is an empty form, in which the voters simply express the will of their priests and prophets and not their own, if, indeed, they can be said to have any will of their own. The Mormon problem in this country has much in common with the Irish problem in the British Empire. A people whose religion, traditions, social customs, temperament, and aspirations are in
utter contrast with those of the dominating people, is consumed with the desire to establish its own national life and work out a destiny conformably to its own ideas. Between the two races there exists what Mr. Seward well termed "an irrepressible conflict." Concessions by the imperial power will only aggravate the difficulty, for the more that is conceded the more will be demanded. The demand for home rule is but the prelude for demands still more sweeping. Ireland really wants complete independence, and will be satisfied with nothing less. If she were to have it she would be a hostile nation, imbittered by the recollection of eight centuries of galling servitude, and would bend all her energies to repay it with interest. Nor can this people be justly blamed. It is inconceivable how an Irish Celt can be otherwise than a mortal foe of England. On the other hand, England is entitled to the right of self-defense as well as other nations. If by letting the subject people go she will only raise up an hereditary and mortal enemy in sight of her own coasts, whom she must reconquer and resubjugate before she can regain safety and peace, she had better tighten her grip rather than relax it. The case of Utah is much the same. The Mormon is a hostile faction within our own borders. His religion, his social organism, his aspirations, make him the foe of the national power. He aspires to independence and to the erection of a State within the national domain and hostile to it. Whatever concession is made to him will be sedulously used to weaken and embarrass the national government. It will be giving him a club to break our own heads. If much is conceded to him, the necessity of taking it back will soon become apparent. If Utah is made a sovereign State she will become intolerable, a chronic rebel and nullifier, who must be conquered by force and reduced again to the territorial condition of dependence. The erection of a State of the Union whose population consisted of Turks or Afghans, would not be a worse blunder or fraught with more dangerous consequences than the creation of a State composed of Mormons.
C. E. DUTTON.
MR. JULIAN STURGIS, in his article, "The Cause of Irish Discontent," published in the FORUM for February, appears to contend that the Irish trouble is due, in the first place, to the fact that the people are Catholic and not Protestant. Then it is his conviction that the Catholic tenant-farmer has himself to blame for his deplorable condition, because, instead of working as hard as he should, he is aiming at getting his land for nothing. Next, it appears to Mr. Sturgis that the demand for home rule is unreal in itself and absurd, because there is nothing which an Irish parliament could do that could not be better done by the imperial Parliament in London. And, finally, he declares his conviction that the only real trouble in Ireland is that the island is over-populated, for which evil the remedy is emigration.
As to the first of these several contentions, it may be remarked that if you take from one class of men-Catholics, for example the best and most favorably situated lands in any given province, and hand them over to another class of mensay, Protestants-you may naturally expect to find the latter rather better off than the former. This is precisely what has happened in Ulster. No blame attaches to the Protestants of that province in this matter; but any boasting that they are a superior people because they are Protestants, is surely out of place when it is remembered that for generations they have occupied the best lands in the province; while the Catholics, originally the occupants of these lands, have long since been driven from them, and compelled to take refuge upon mountain or other inferior land. All that is true in this matter is, that some Protestant farmers are richer than some Catholics; but, then, it is equally true that some Catholics are richer than some Protestants. fact, the comparison, as between Catholics and Protestants, is altogether misleading. Again, Protestant Ulster is, as a matter