Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Protest Against Senator-Elect Smoot

To start off, I'll put in a summary of the protest filed against Senator Smoot.  There were a great many protests filed in all; however, two found their way to this committee.  The first, was signed by 19 individuals.  Please excuse any obvious spelling mistakes.  Anything directly from the protest, word-for-word, is in quotes.  Anything not in quotes is a summary.

By way of reference, all of the material I present here came from the actual committee hearing books printed by the Senate of the United States from between 1903 and 1906.


To the President and Members of the Senate of the United States:

"We protest as above upon the ground and for the reason that he is one of a self-perpetuating body of fifteen men who, constituting the ruling authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or 'Mormon' Church, claim, and by their followers are accorded the right to claim, supreme authority, divinely sanctioned, to shape the belief and control the conduct of those under them in all matters whatsoever, civil and religious, temporal and spiritual, and who thus, uniting in themselves authority in church and state, do so exercise the same as to inculcate and rncourage a belief in polygamy and polygamous cohabitation; who countenance and connive at violations of the laws of the State prohibiting the same regardless of pledges made for the purpose of obtaining statehood and of covenants made with the people of the United States, and who by all the means in their power protect and honor those who with themselves violate the laws of the land and are guilty of practices destructive of the family and the home."

The protest is then listed with detailed charges and descriptions of why the charges are valid.  Without quoting the entire document, or any of the details mentioned for each individual charge, here are the charges (quoted exactly):
  1. The Mormon priesthood, according to the doctrines of that church, is vested with supreme authority in all things temporal and spiritual.
  2. The first presidency and twelve apostles are supreme in the exercise and transmission of the mandates of this authority.
  3. As this body of men has not abandoned the principles and practice of political dictation, so also it has not abandoned belief in polygamy and polygamous cohabitation.
  4. That this attitude of the first presidency and apostolate, even since the suspensory manifesto of 1890, is evidenced by their teachings since then.
  5. This body of officials, of whom Senator-elect Smoot is one, also practice or connive at and encourage the practice of polygamy and polygamous cohabitation, and those who they have permitted to hold legislative office have, without protest or objection from them, sought to pass a law nullifying enactments against polygamous cohabitation.
  6. The supreme authorities in the church, of whom Senator-elect Reed Smoot is one, to wit, the first presidency and twelve apostles, not only connive at violations of, but protect and honor the violators of the laws against polygamy and polygamous cohabitation.
"All the matters and things in this petition we affirm to be true according to our information and belief, and, all of them, if they be denied, and more we stand ready to prove."

"We wage no war against his religious belief as such.  We do not to the slightest extent deny him the same freedom of thought, the same freedom of action within the law, which we claim for ourselves.

"We accuse him of no offense cognizable by law."

"What we do deny to him is the right, either natural or political, to the high station of Senator of the United States from which to wage war upon the home - the basic institution upon whose purity and perpetuity rests the very Government itself.

"However broad the grant by Federal enactments to the State of Utah or its citizens, the enjoyment of the privileges of statehood must depend upon the observance of the sacred compact upon which statehood was secured.  The rights thereby granted are not inalienable, and we do insist that he is and ever must be unfitted to make laws who shows himself unalterably opposed to that which underlies all law.

"We submit that however formal and regular may be Apostle Smoot's credentials or his qualifications by way of citizenship, whatever his protestations of patriotism and loyalty, it is clear that the obligations of any official oath which he may subscribe are and of necessity must be as threads of tow compared with the covenants which bind his intellect, his will, and his affections, and which hold him forever in accord with and subject to the will of a defiant and lawbreaking apostolate."

"We ask that in the exercise of your high prerogative to see that no harm come to the Republic, you do halt this man at the door of the Senate that he may be there inquired of touching the matters we have herein set forth."

Dated at Salt Lake City, January 26, 1903.  Signed by the following individuals:
W.M. Paden
C.C. Goodwin
J.J. Corum
Harry C. Hill
H.G. McMillan
P.L. Williams
W.A. Neldon
George R. Hancock
C.E. Allen
Abill Leonard
E.B. Critchlow
Clarence T. Brown
W. Mont. Ferry
George M. Scott
E.W. Wilson
Ezra Thompson
J.L. Leilich
S.H. Lewis

Commentary on this protest:
My favorite quote from the protest is the following:  "We accuse him of no offense cognizable by law."  Well then, if he has committed no crime that the law can reach, then there is no crime by which to exclude him; including being a member of a conspiratorial group of men that flagrantly break the law (what the charge is).  Interestingly enough, the lawyers for Senator Smoot picked up on this same phrase and used it multiple times throughout their opening and closing statements/arguments.  I can picture E.B. Critchlow who was the main author of the protest:  "Doh! ... Should have worded that a little differently!"

The next protest in the committee hearing volume is that from J.L. Leilich.  I am not going to quote very much at all from this protest.  This is a completely separate protest from the one above, and was signed only by a single individual; from hereafter in the committee hearings it is known as the "Leilich protest."  Well, apparently he wanted his own protest, so he filed a separate one.

Charge #9:  "That the oath of office required of and taken by the said Reed Smoot, as an apostle of the said church, is of such a nature and character as that he is thereby disqualified from taking the oath of office required of a United States Senator."

Charge #13:  "That the said Reed Smoot is a polygamist, and that since the admission of Utah into the union of States he, although then and there having a legal wife, married a plural wife" and has cohabited with both of them since that time.

Commentary:  The #13 charge got him in some hot water with other religious groups.  I read a few articles in the Deseret News about this.  This charge was patently false.  Reed Smoot has only ever had one wife.  Yes, he was born from a plural wife of his father, but he himself only married once and never cohabited with another woman.  This charge was dropped, and the attorney for the protestants never attempted to prove it.  The 9th charge is a little off from what the committee does actually investigate.  And although the protest from the 19 vaguely references this type of charge against Senator Smoot, it is this protest that comes right out and states it.  Essentially this type charge (#9) is investigated by the committee by querying witnesses about the LDS Temple Endowment ceremony; specifically they were looking for what was called at the time the "Oath of Vengeance."

The rest of the protest by J.L. Leilich was completely ignored by the attorneys on both sides.  There was no representation in the committee hearing for this protest, thus no investigation into the other charges.

I am curious as to why this second protest was even filed and submitted to the committee for inclusion in the record.  Is it because it was fantastic in its claims as to Senator Smoot being a polygamist?  Was it included so that the oath could specifically be investigated because it wasn't directly stated in the first protest?  Well, okay, that's not exactly correct; there was a paragraph in the first protest quoted above that referenced an oath; but it wasn't a direct reference.

Reed Smoot answered all of the charges listed above on January 4, 1904.  There is no need to quote from his response, because it was essentially a denial of everything said and every charge leveled; as would be expected in this kind of response.

Opening Statement of Robert W. Tayler (January 16, 1904):
The last point of the hearing I'll talk about in this blog is the opening statement of Robert W. Tayler, attorney for the 19 protestants.  I'll skip all of the talk about his argument of power in the Senate to expel members of its body; it was rather dull and after reading his closing statements, not as good.

He essentially rewrites the charges into 4 distinct propositions:

Proposition #1:  The Mormon priesthood is vested with supreme authority in all things spiritual and temporal, political and civil.  The head of this organization claims to receive revelation from God Almighty, and these revelations Reed Smoot is required to obey.

Here is a little bit of testimony from this first propsition:
     Senator Beveridge.  Is that the first proposition upon which you base your contest against the respondent?
     Mr. Tayler.  Yes, sir.
     Senator Beveridge.  His membership in the Mormon Church?
     Mr. Tayler.  Yes, sir; exactly.

Proposition #2:  "The first presidency and twelve apostles, of whom Reed Smoot is one, are supreme in the exercise of this authority of the church and in the transmission of that authority to their successors.  Each of them is called prophet, seer, and revelator."

Proposition #3:  The hierarchy of the church, composed of 15 men, has not abandoned their belief in polygamy or polygamous cohabitation.  On the contrary, they promulate and practice this doctrine.

"The president of the Mormon Church and a majority of the twelve apostles now practice polygamy and polygamous cohabitation, and some of them have taken polygamous wives since the manifesto of 1890.  These things have been done with the knowledge and countenance of Reed Smoot.  Plural marriage ceremonies have been performed by apostles since the manifesto of 1890, and many bishops and other high officials of the church have taken plural wives since that time.  All of the first presidency and the twelve apostles encourage, countenance, conceal, and connive at polygamy and polygamous cohabitation, and honor and reward by high office and distinguished preferment those who most persistently and defiantly violate the law of the land."

"That is the concrete charge against this individual."

Proposition #4:  "Though pledged by the compact of statehood and bound by the law of their Commonwealth, this supreme body, whose voice is law to its people, and whose members were individually directly responsible for good faith to the American people, permitted, without protest or objection, their legislators to pass a law nullifying the statute against polygamous cohabitation."

Here's a little bit of testimony from the fourth proposition:
     Senator Beveridge.  What has the respondent to do with that law?
     Mr. Tayler.  I have said only that the respondent was one of the ruling officers of the church, and that he entered no protest against nor did he undertake to prevent this nullification of the law.
     Senator Beveridge.  You do not assert that he had anything to do with the passage of the law, one way or the other?
     Mr. Tayler.  Oh, no.

"Now, gentlemen, those are the things we expect to prove, and upon them ask the opinion of the committee and the Senate as to its duty."

Commentary:  Ok, so the original 6 charges have been reduced to 4, and they possibly include one of the charges from the Leilich protest; so we'll say 5, although Mr. Tayler denies going after this item from J.L. Leilich during the hearing.

Charge #1:  You're a Mormon.
Charge #2:  You're a member of the hierarchy of the Mormon Church, which wields supreme authority.
Charge #3:  Your church hierarchy still practice and teach polygamous cohabitation, and since you're a member of that hierarchy, you are in league with this conspiracy; even though you do not subscribe to the practice.
Charge #4:  Your church hierarchy tried to pass a law in Utah to reduce ciminal exposure to polygamous cohabitation laws, of which you had no part.

When the charges are put like this, to me at least, they seem very weak, and almost silly.  However, this was no joke and these were the charges that Mr. Tayler attempted to sustain via proof by testimony from witnesses.

The concrete charge is #3; namely, that he is a member of a conspiratorial organization of 15 men that are defiant lawbreakers and teach this to others.  This means that testimony will be introduced to show that these 15 men are either polygamous, engage in polygamous cohabitation, teach polygamy, encourage polygamy, do not punish polygamous lawbreakers, or help conceal this practice from the law of the land; thus combining with them to form a conspiracy against the Government and law of the United States.

I will not put in the opening statement summaries from Mr. Worthington and Mr. Van Cott, Senator Smoot's attorneys.  It is enough to know that they denied the charges and did so very capably.

One more thing to watch for:  Senator Beveridge signed the Minority Report, at the end of the hearing, to allow Reed Smoot to keep his seat.  His comments even at the initial stage of the hearing tend to show already which way he is leaning.  He, along with Senators Knox, Foraker, Dillingham, and Hopkins all signed the Minority Report.  It is rumored that if Senator Hoar wouldn't have died (late 1904) he was leaning toward keeping Senator Smoot as well; however, his committee seat replacement was Senator Knox who signed the Minority Report, so that was essentially a wash in the plus/minus column.  Additionally, Senators Dolliver and Overman, I believe, did not want to sign the Majority Report until Senator Burrows reworded it; they were very close to signing the Minority Report and making it actually the Majority Report.  Watch for their comments throughout the committee hearing.

Next up, the first day of testimony with President Joseph F. Smith on the stand.

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