I have decided not to cover (in any detail that would give proper light to the subject) the admission of the Territory of Utah as a State. The political battle that ensued because of this will be the subject of another post (if I post it at all), and would require much more depth than I'm willing to put into this post. As such, this significant event, and the events that led up to it, will only be touched upon lightly.
There is a great deal of history that I am leaving out, and yet, this post is still significantly large in my opinion. For each year I give a brief summary, as written in Church Chronology, a list of events I found important during the year, and then some description of the history of the year. I have tried to present the facts here without regard to bias. Both positive and negative events are listed so as to show different points of view.
As with all of my posts, I hope there are minimal to no errors. However, I'm not naive enough to believe that this is error-free. If I find problems, I'll correct them. I will say this: This post feels like I've just written a book on the subject. I've done a fair amount of research, and left out tons of material that could rightly be justified for inclusion (background, stories, explanation, quotation from laws or court cases, etc.); I just couldn't bring myself to put it all in.
Other posts in this series:
- Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862
- Edmunds Act of 1882
- Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887
- Supreme Court Cases (1878-1893)
Bibliography of sources used in this post:
cc = Church Chronology, A Record of Important Events, Compiled by Andrew Jenson, 1914.
ch = Church History in the Fulness of Times - Student Manual, published by the LDS Church, 2nd Edition, 2003.
en = Ensign to the Nations, A History of the LDS Church from 1846 to 1972, by Russell R. Rich, 14th printing, 1989.
ph = Popular History of Utah, by Orson F. Whitney, 1916.
up = Under the Prophet in Utah, by Frank J. Cannon, 1911.
ww = Wilford Woodruff, by Matthias F. Cowley, 1909.
=== 1887 ===
During this year nearly 200 of the brethren were imprisoned in the Utah Penitentiary, besides a number in Idaho, for infractions of the provisions of the anti-polygamy laws. The settlements of the Saints in Mexico and Canada were greatly strengthened by "Mormon" exiles from the United States. Under the provisions of the Edmunds-Tucker law the government, through its receiver took possession of the Church offices, and a wholesale confiscation of Church property was threatened. President John Taylor died in exile, and the Council of the Twelve Apostles was sustained as the Presidency of the Church. (cc, pg. 142)
327 convictions under the Edmunds-Tucker Act this year. (en, pg. 383).
March 3, 1887 - Edmunds-Tucker Act becomes a law.
May 24, 1887 - Manti Temple "ransacked" by US Marshals looking for polygamists - no arrests were made.
July 25, 1887 - President John Taylor dies.
July 30, 1887 - Utah Supreme Court case against the Church and the PEFC according to provisions in the Edmunds-Tucker Law.
October 17, 1887 - Utah Supreme Court arguments begin in U.S. v. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
November 7, 1887 - Marshal Frank H. Dyer is appointed the Receiver, and ordered to take charge of Church property.
November 8, 1887 - Receiver Dyer is given "extraordinary powers" in handling Church property. Asked to file a $250,000 bond.
November 11, 1887 - Receiver Dyer takes possession of the Tithing Office in Salt Lake City, but does not interfere with the regular business.
November 15, 1887 - Receiver Dyer takes possession of the Historian's Office and the Gardo House. The Tithing Office and the Historian's Office are leased back to the Church. The marshal demands the President's Office be delivered to him.
November 17, 1887 - Marshal Dyer files a $50,000 bond in the suit against the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company (PEFC).
November 18, 1887 - Receiver Dyer takes possession of the PEFC property.
November 23, 1887 - Receiver Dyer takes formal possession of the President's Office, leaving two deputies in charge.
December 12, 1887 - Rudger Clawson released from prison - pardoned by President Cleveland.
December 31, 1887 - Because of the persecution and legal proceedings against the Church, all the workmen on the Temple Block in Salt Lake City, are discharged, and work on the temple is suspended.
"In Idaho the crusade had been carried on vindictively. Those who engineered the 'Anti-Mormon' movement in that Territory boasted that their juries would convict 'Mormons' whether innocent or guilty. The U.S. Marshal, who afterwards became Delegate in Congress and subsequently a United States Senator affirmed that he had 'a jury that would convict Jesus Christ;' and no one disputed, or had any reason to dispute, the profane declaration." (ph, pg. 454).
"By Act of Congress, all the church property in excess of $50,000 had been seized by the United States marshal, and the community faced the total loss of its common fund. Because of some evasions that had been attempted by the Church authorities - and the suspicion of more such - the marshal had taken everything that he could in any way assume to belong to the Church." (up, pg. 26).
"The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 included provisions aimed at destroying the Church as a political and economic entity. The law officially dissolved the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a legal corporation and required the Church to forfeit to the government all property in excess of fifty thousand dollars. Government officials set out immediately to confiscate Church holdings. For example, the buildings on Temple Square and other Church offices were placed in receivership and then rented back to the Church. In an attempt to stop the flow of European converts, the government dissolved the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company, the chief agency for immigration." (ch, pg. 437).
"B.H. Roberts claims that the real cause of the anti-Mormon crusade was a fight for the political control of Utah on the part of the crusaders. They not only wanted control of the offices in Utah that federal officers could give them, but control of the legislature and the treasury of Utah as well. Even with the Utah Commission in political control and with the other aspects of the Edmunds Law as weapons, the Ring was not satisfied with the general progress made against the Saints, as they still could not wrest political control from the Mormons." (en, pp. 380-381).
Effect on the Mormons living polygamy:
"As the judicial crusade against polygamy continued, a new way of life was created for many Saints. Otherwise law-abiding men escaped to the underground and frequently moved from place to place to avoid the marshals who were hunting them. Fleeing 'cohabs' (as they were called) went into canyons, barns, fields, and cellars to avoid their pursuers. Federal officers countered by disguising themselves as peddlers or census takers in order to gain entry into homes. Some marshals raided houses, invading privacy and even mistreating wives and children to catch their prey. Ten and twenty-dollar bounties were offered for every Latter-day Saint captured, and much larger amounts were available if a General Authority was apprehended." (ch, pg. 432).
"A more despairing situation than theirs, at that hour, has never been faced by an American community. Practically every Mormon man of any distinction was in prison, or had just served his term, or had escaped into exile. Hundreds of Mormon women had left their homes and their children to flee from the officers of law; many had been behind prison bars for refusing to answer the questions put to them in court; more were concealed, like outlaws, in the houses of friends. Husbands and wives, separated by the necessities of flight, had died apart, miserably. Old men were coming out of prison, broken in health. A young plural wife whom I knew - a mere girl, of good breeding, of gentle life - seeking refuge in the mountains to save her husband from a charge of 'unlawful cohabitation,' had had her infant die in her arms on the road; and she had been compelled to bury the child, wrapped in her shawl, under a rock, in a grave that she scratched in the soil with a stick. In our day! In a civilized state!" (up, pp. 25-26).
=== 1888 ===
The year, generally speaking, was a prosperous one for the Saints in Utah and surrounding territories, although more arrests and imprisonments for conscience sake than during any previous season since the prosecutions under the Edmunds law commenced. A good harvest was gathered in nearly all the settlements of the Saints, although water was somewhat scarce in many places. The missionaries abroad were quite successful in their labors, especially on the "islands of the sea," including Samoa, where the fulness of the gospel was introduced in 1888. (cc, pg. 157).
334 convictions under the Edmunds-Tucker Act for this year. (en, pg. 343).
January 18, 1888 - Utah Supreme Court denies an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of appointing a receiver for the Church property.
May 14, 1888 - Deputy marshals demand the tabernacle at Logan as Church property, but are refused.
July 6, 1888 - The Church farm in Salt Lake County is turned over to Receiver Dyer.
July 9, 1888 - Receiver Dyer petitions the Supreme Court of Utah to have $157,000+ worth of Church property delivered to him.
July 9, 1888 - President Cleveland nominates Elliot F. Sandford to replace Judge Zane.
July 10, 1888 - Considerable Church property is turned over to Dyer on compromise, pending appeal to the US Supreme Court.
August 28, 1888 - Judge Sandford arrives and relieves Judge Zane.
September 17, 1888 - George Q. Cannon surrenders to Marshal Dyer and is brought before Judge Sandford.
December 12, 1888 - Mormon legislators are expelled from the Idaho legislature.
Life on the Underground (Frank J. Cannon relating a story of meeting with his father, George Q. Cannon):
"About ten o'clock one night in the spring of 1888, I set out secretly, from Salt Lake City, on a nine-mile drive to Bountiful, to meet my father, who was concealed 'on the underground,' among friends; and that night drive, with its haste and its apprehension, was so of a piece with the times, that I can hardly separate it from them in my memory. We were all being carried along in an uncontrollable sweep of tragic events. In a sort of blindness, like the night, unable to see the nearest fork of the road ahead of us, we were being driven to a future that held we knew not what.
"... The whole district was picketed with deputy marshals; we did not know that we were not being followed; we had always the sense of evading patrols in an enemy's country. But this feeling was so old with us that it had become a thing of no regard.
"... With Wilcken holding the reins on a pair of fast horses at full speed, we whirled past an old adobe wall (which the Mormons had built to defend their city from the Indians) and came out into the purple night of Utah, with its frosty starlight and its black hills ... we drove, that night, up the Salt Lake valley, across a corner of the desert, to the little town of Bountiful; and as soon as we arrived among the houses of the settlement, a man stepped out into the road, from the shadows, and stopped us. Wilcken spoke to him. He recognized us, and let us pass. As we turned into the farm where my father was concealed, I saw men lurking here and there, on guard, about the grounds." (up, pp. 23-25, 27).
Mormon Community Definition:
"Their community was founded on the three principles of co-operation, contribution, and arbitration. By co-operation of effort they had realized that dream of the Socialists, 'equality of opportunity' - not equality of individual capacity, which the accidents of nature prevent, but an equal opportunity for each individual to develop himself to the last reach of his power. By contribution - by requiring each man to give one-tenth of his income to a common fund - they had attained the desired end of modern civilization, the abolition of poverty, and had adjusted the straps of the community burden to the strength of the individual to bear it. By arbitration, they had effected the settlement of every dispute of every kind without litigation; for their High Councils decided all sorts of personal or neighborhood disputes without expense of money to the disputants. The 'storehouse of the Lord' had been kept open to fill every need of the poor among 'God's people,' and opportunities for self-help had been created out of the common fund, so that neither unwilling idleness nor privation might mar the growth of the community or the progress of the individual.
"But Joseph Smith had gone further. ... [He assumed] that a woman's chief right was that of wifehood and maternity, [and so] instituted the practice of plural marriage, as a 'Prophet of God,' on the authority of a direct revelation from the Almighty. It was upon this rock that the whole enterprise, the whole experiment in religious communism, now threatened to split. Not that polygamy was so large an incident in the life of the community - for only a small proportion of the Mormons were living in plural marriage. And not that this practice was the cardinal sin of Mormonism - for among intelligent men, then as now, the great objection to the Church was its assumption of a divine authority to hold the 'temporal power,' to dictate in politics, to command action and to acquit of responsibility. But polygamy was the offense against civilization which the opponents of Mormonism could always cite in order to direct against the Church the concentrated antagonism of the governments of the Western world." (up, pp. 33-34).
How Chief Justice Charles S. Zane was replaced:
Frank J. Cannon was asked by his father (George Q.) to use his influence in Washington to seek relief for the Saints in Utah. George Q: "We feel that if relief does not soon appear, our community will be scattered and the great work crushed." Late one night, he secretly meets with Joseph F. Smith at the Lion House in Salt Lake City. This first quote is Frank Cannon's belief of what drives some of the animosity between Joseph F. Smith and the government of the United States.
"No Mormon in those years, I think, had more hate than [Joseph F.] Smith for the United States government; and surely none had better reasons to give himself for hate. He had the bitter recollection of the assassination of his father and his uncle in the jail of Carthage, Illinois; he could remember the journey that he had made with his widowed mother across the Mississippi, across Iowa, across the Missouri, and across the unknown and desert West, in ox teams, half starved, unarmed, persecuted by civilization and at the mercy of savages; he could remember all the toils and hardships of pioneer days 'in the valley;' he had seen the army of '58 arrive to complete, as he believed, the final destruction of our people; he had suffered from all the proscriptive legislation of 'the raid,' been out-lawed, been in exile, been in hiding, hunted like a thief." (up, pp. 38-39).During the conversation with President Smith, he [Frank] is asked to do whatever he can to alleviate the suffering in Utah. Here is what Joseph F. Smith is reported to have said:
"These scoundrels here must be removed [political appointees in Utah, and those seeking to arrest men charged with polygamy] - if there's any way to do it. They're trying to repeat the persecutions of Missouri and Illinois. They want to despoil us of our heritage - of our families. I'm sick of being hunted like a wild beast. I've done no harm to them or theirs. Why can't they leave us alone to live our religion and obey the commandments of God and build up Zion? ... I thought Cleveland would stop this damnable raid and make them leave us in peace - but he's as bad as the rest. Can't they see that these carpet baggers are only trying to rob us? Make them see that. The hounds! Sometimes it seems to me that the Lord is letting these iniquities go on so that the nation may perish in its sins all the sooner!" (up, pp. 40-41).Frank left and traveled east, not knowing exactly how to accomplish the task he had been given. In Washington he "intended to argue - as the first wise concession needed of the Federal authorities - that Chief Justice Zane should no longer be retained on the bench in Utah, but should be succeeded by a man more gentle. He was the great figure among our prosecutors; the others were District Attorney Dickson and the two assistants, Mr. Varian and Mr. Hiles." (up, pg. 50).
He traveled to New York City and met with the mayor there, Mr. Abraham S. Hewitt, a friend of his father's. After hearing of the troubles in Utah, the mayor recommended Judge Elliott F. Sanford as a replacement for Judge Charles S. Zane. Mr. Cannon met Mr. Sandford and his wife in New York and convinced him (them) to accept a Presidential nomination to the position of Chief Justice in Utah. He is given a letter to present to Mr. William C. Whitney (Secretary of the Navy), who subsequently helped him obtain an interview with President Grover Cleveland.
"I had to tell him [President Cleveland] that the situation had not improved, and his face flushed with an anger that he made no attempt to conceal. He declared that the fault must lie in our obstinate determination to hold ourselves superior to the law. He could not sympathize with our sufferings, he said, since they were self-inflicted. He admitted that he had once been opposed to the Edmunds-Tucker bill, but felt now that it was justified by the immovability of the Mormons. All palliatives had failed. The patience of Congress had been exhausted. There was no recourse, except to make statutes cutting enough to destroy the illegal practices and unlawful leadership in the Mormon community." (up, pg. 74).Just as the President was dismissing him, he told him that 20 years of politicians doing the same thing over and over again has failed. He, Frank, has a solution that could possibly work.
"Mr. President," I replied, "if you were travelling in the West, and came to an unbridged stream with your wagon train, and saw tracks leading down into the water where you thought there was a ford, you would naturally expect to cross there, assuming that others had done so before you. But suppose that some man on the bank should say to you: 'I've watched wagon trains go in here for more than twenty years, and I've never yet seen one come out on the other side. Look over at that opposite bank. You see there are no wagon tracks there. Now, down the river a piece, is a place where I think there's a ford. I've never got anybody to try it yet, but certainly it's as good a chance as this one!' Mr. President, what would you do? Would you attempt a crossing where there had been twenty years of failure, or would you try the other place - on the chance that it might take you over?" (up, pp. 76-77).In other words, all of the political efforts to solve the Mormon problem have been the same for the last 20 years, and they have all failed. Something new must be tried. When Mr. Cannon met the Presdient a few days later, "He was interested, receptive, almost genial. He gave me an oppotunity to cover the whole ground of my case, and I went over it step by step."
"He looked squarely at me, with a most determined front, when I told him that the Mormons would be ground to powder before they would yield. 'They can't yield,' I warned him. 'They're like the passengers on a train going with a mad speed down a dangerous grade. For any of them to attempt to jump is simple destruction. They can only pray to Providence to help them. But if that train were to be brought to a stop at some station where they could alight with anything like self-respect, there would be many of them glad to get off - even though the train had not arrived at it's 'revealed' destination." (up, pg. 79).After many more meetings, the President decided that he wanted to help address the Mormon problem. He was going to appoint Mr. Elliott F. Sandford as Chief Justice in Utah, relieving Judge Charles Zane.
Reaction to Judge Sandford's installation:
"He was appointed Chief Justice on the 9th day of July, 1888, and - as the Mormon people expressed it - 'the backbone of the raid was broken.' On August 26, 1888, he arrived in Salt Lake City. On September 17, my father [George Q. Cannon] came before him in court and pleaded guilty to two indictments charging him with 'unlawful cohabitation.' He was fined $450 [~$10,500 today] and sentenced to the penitentiary for one hundred and seventy-five days. His example was followed by a number of prominent Mormons, including Francis Marion Lyman. ... It is true that not many cases, relatively speaking, came to Justice Sandford; but the leader whom the authorities were most eager to subjugate under Federal power was judged and sentenced; and the effect, both on the country and on the Mormon people, was all that we had expected." (up, pp. 80-81).
"While the crusade was by no means at an end, its extreme bitterness was gradually vanishing. During the year Judge Zane was succeeded by Judge Elliott Sandford of New York. Mr. Sanford was a man of refinement and of moral courage. He manifested no personal bias and no excessive zeal in the administration of the law." (ww, pg. 563).
=== 1889 ===
By the Saints in Utah 1889 will be remembered as the year when the question whether or not the Church to which they belonged could be robbed of its property by the government was laid before the supreme tribunal of their country; and also the question whether they could be robbed of civil and political rights as individual citizens, because of their religious belief. Abroad the missionaries met with considerable success, and a few were baptized in Asia Minor and Palestine. In New Zealand large numbers of natives embraced the gospel, and the progress in Europe is shown by the fact that, during the year, 321 were baptized in Great Britain, 572 in Scandinavia, 219 in Switzerland and Germany, and 77 in Holland. The Book of Mormon was translated into the modern Jewish and Maori languages. In Salt Lake City, Ogden, and other places in Utah the political developments toward the close of the year will always be remembered as being very significant and demonstrative. (cc, pg. 169).
346 convictions under the Edmunds-Tucker Act during this year. (en, pg. 383).
January 14, 1889 - Francis M. Lyman sentenced to the Utah Penitentiary for 85 days and fined $200.
January 19, 1889 - U.S. Supreme Court arguments heard in U.S. v. Mormon Church.
February 18, 1889 - Receiver Dyer is examined in court, and nothing is found against him (his work).
March 9, 1889 - Marshal Dyer tendered his resignation to President Cleveland.
May 24, 1889 - Judge Charles S. Zane is reappointed Chief Judge of Utah by President Harrison.
June 3, 1889 - Judge Zane replaces Judge Sandford.
June 24, 1889 - Utah Supreme Court ordered that the Church farm be leased to John R. Winder for $401/month.
July 12, 1889 - President Harrison appoints Elias H. Parsons as marshal and Charles S. Varian district attorney for Utah.
August 21, 1889 - Receiver Dyer leased 29,756 Church sheep at an average of 43 cents/head.
September 27, 1889 - Utah Commission reports to Secretary John W. Noble - they say Utah needs harsher measures.
November, 1889 - The Endowment House is taken down (erected in 1855).
November 30, 1889 - Judge Anderson, in the Third District Court, renders a decision that "Mormon" aliens can not be admitted to citizenship (in the U.S.).
Replacement of Judge Sandford by Judge Zane:
President Benjamin Harrison was elected, and as a consequence many public government officials were replaced in Utah. "An official change that caused more comment than all the others combined was the removal of Chief Justice Sandford and the reappointment of his predecessor, Chief Justice Zane. ... Justice Sandford had written out his resignation soon after Harrison was inaugurated." Justice Sandford requested to know why he was being replaced, and the response was the following: "... the President has become satisfied that your administration of the office is not in harmony with the policy he deems proper to be pursued with reference to Utah affairs."
Judge Sandford made the following rejoinder: "My earnest purpose while on the Bench, as Chief Justice of this Territory, has been to administer justice and the laws honestly and impartially to all men, under the obligations of my oath of office. If the President of the United States has any policy which he desires a Judge of the Supreme Court to carry out in reference to Utah affairs other than the one I have pursued, you may say to him that he has done well to remove me." (ph, pg. 470).
Judge Anderson's decision regarding naturalization:
"Many bona fide residents had not been naturalized, and to pass upon applications for citizenship Associate Justice Anderson held special sessions of court at Salt Lake City. 'Mormon' applicants were questioned as to their belief in polygamy, and if they admitted such a belief they were objected to as 'men of immoral character.' Inquiries made of other applicants concerning sexual practices outside the marriage relation, were characterized by the objectors 'superfluous and absurd.'
"Allegations respecting a ceremony which was said to require from everyone passing through the Endowment House an oath of hostility to the United States Government, were made the basis of a contention that no member of the 'Mormon' Church should be admitted to citizenship.'
"Judge Anderson, in a decision rendered on the last day of November, 1889, denied the applications of John Moore and Walter J. Edgar for citizenship, on the ground that they had been through the Endowment House and had there taken an oath of hostility to the Government. Nine others were rejected because they were members of the 'Mormon' Church, though they had never been through the Endowment House, and were not even accused of taking any disloyal oath or obligation." (ph, pp. 478-479).
In concluding his journal for the year 1889, Wilford Woodruff wrote:
'This ends the year. The word of the Prophet, Joseph Smith, has been fulfilled wherein he declared that the whole nation would turn against Zion and make war upon the Saints. The nation has never been so full of lies against the Saints as it is today." (ww, pg. 566).
=== 1890 ===
Salt Lake City passed from the hands of the People's Party to those of the Liberals, or anti Mormon element. Nearly all the civil rights left to the Saints were threatened by proposed anti-Mormon legislation. President Woodruff issued his manifesto, suspending plural marriage. (cc, pg. 180).
February 3, 1890 - The Supreme Court of the United States rendered an opinion affirming the constitutionality of the Idaho test oath, in the case of Samuel D. Davis.
March 4, 1890 - Utah Supreme Court made an order terminating the lease of the Gardo House and hereafter renting it to the highest bidder.
March 5, 1890 - Utah Supreme Court made an order terminating the lease of the Tithing Office grounds and was rented to the highest bidder.
March 10, 1890 - John R. Winder is the highest bidder for the Gardo House $450/month.
March 12, 1890 - John R. Winder is the highest bidder for the Tithing Office grounds $500/month.
April 11, 1890 - Cullom-Struble Bill introduced in Congress.
May 14, 1890 - George F. Edmunds introduces a bill in the Senate providing for the entire disfranchisement of the Mormons.
May 19, 1890 - United States v. Mormon Church - Supreme Court says Edmunds-Tucker act is constitutional.
June 10, 1890 - George F. Edmunds introduces a bill in the Senate providing for the disposition of the escheated Church property.
July 7, 1890 - Receiver Dyer made a report on Church property for Examiner Rosburough.
July 14, 1890 - Receiver Dyer resignes his position as Receiver of confiscated Church property.
July 16, 1890 - Utah Supreme Court appoints Henry W. Lawrence as Receiver of confiscated Church property.
July 29, 1890 - Receiver Henry W. Lawrence is ordered by the Utah Supreme Court to sell the Church sheep in his possession.
September 24, 1890 - A manifesto was issued, signed by President Woodruff, in which the Saints are advised "to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the laws of the land."
September 26, 1890 - The Manifesto is released.
October 6, 1890 - The Manifesto is sustained by the Church in Conference assembled.
October 7, 1890 - In the Third District Court, Judge Zane rules that membership in the Mormon Church should no longer be a barrier to aliens being admitted to citizenship.
October 13, 1890 - James E. Clark is sentenced by Judge Zane to pay a $100 fine for unlawful cohabitation. In consideration of the manifesto just issued, no imprisonment is imposed.
November 5, 1890 - U.S. District Attorney Varian filed two suits for the forfeiture of the Temple Block under the escheat law, in the Third District court.
"Although arrests and imprisonments caused families to suffer, the greatest problem for the Church was its inability to acquire and hold the funds necessary to build temples, do missionary work, publish material, and provide for the welfare of the Saints. Church leaders succeeded in getting their case before the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the confiscation of Church property under the Edmunds-Tucker Act was unconstitutional. But in May 1890, the court upheld, in a five to four decision, the constitutionality of all the government had done under the Edmunds-Tucker Law. Though disappointed by the decision, there was little the Saints could do to ward off the impending economic destruction of the Church." (ch, pg. 438).
"With nearly 1,300 men and women having been sentenced, with all Latter-day Saints in Idaho having been disfranchised; with the Church having been disincorporated and her real and personal property confiscated; with all polygynists and all women in Utah having been disfranchised; with all the rights of local self-government in Utah suspended (even to the privilege of operating their schools); with pressure arising for the government to disfranchise all Mormons in territories; with prospects for the future that the personal property of every Latter-day Saint might be confiscated; with the United States Supreme Court having declared the Anti-Bigamy Law of 1862, the Idaho Test Oath, and the main parts of the Edmunds-Tucker Law as constitutional, President Woodruff felt the time had come when it could be said that the members of the Church had gone forth with all diligence to perform the commands of the Lord, and the Lord would no longer require them to practice plural marriage." (en, pp. 385-386).
February 3, 1890 - Supreme Court case: Davis v. Beason: 133 U.S. 333
Short answer: The test oath used to qualify voters in Idaho is legal, and cannot be challenged. Samuel D. Davis' prison term is legal.
Here is a piece of the oath used in Idaho:
"... and I do further swear that I am not a bigamist or polygamist; that I am not a member of any order, organization or association which teaches, advises, counsels or encourages its members, devotees or any other person to commit the crime of bigamy or polygamy, or any other crime defined by law, as a duty arising or resulting from membership in such order, organization or association, or which practices bigamy, polygamy or plural or celestial marriage as a doctrinal rite of such organization; that I do not and will not, publicly or privately or in any manner whatever teach, advise, counsel or encourage any person to commit the crime of bigamy or polygamy, or any other crime defined by law, either as a religious duty or otherwise."If you are a polygamist, or belong to an organization that encourages polygamy, whether or not you actually practice it, you are disqualified from voting. This effectively disfrachised all Mormons in Idaho.
The jurisdiction of the case was all that the Supreme Court decided on; did the Idaho court have jurisdiction in the case? Using Reynolds v. United States as it's first case reference, the court demonstrated that polygamy was a crime that could be legislated against, and it would not intefere with a citizen's first amendment rights of freedom of religion. With that case as the foundation, they further found that "the territorial legislature [of Idaho] was authorized to prescribe any qualifications for voters calculated to secure obedience to its laws." In other words, the Idaho court had jurisdiction to convict and sentence Mr. Samuel Davis in connection with this test oath.
"The judgment of the court below is therefore Affirmed."
This case had broad reaching effects for the Mormons in Utah. To over-simplify it a bit, it meant that a law could be passed disqualifying all Mormons from voting. The very real possibility of a new law aimed at Mormons in Utah, and not just Idaho, was shortly seen; two months later, bills to affect this outcome were introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States - the Cullom-Struble Bill.
Members of the Church in both Utah and Idaho watched this case closely, and were very disappointed with the outcome. They had hoped the Supreme Court would strike down the test oath in Idaho, and allow all law abiding citizens to vote - independent of their religion. However, with the affirmation from the United States Supreme Court that the "Idaho Test Oath" was constitutional, and the continuing troubles of persuading the Mormons in Utah to give up the practice of polygamy, Washington felt that stricter legislation was necessary to force the Utah Church to become law abiding - even to the point of removing individual rights of citizens; the right to vote.
April 10, 1890: Illinois Senator Shelby Moore Cullom introduces a bill aimed at disfranchising all who practice polygamy in every Territory of the United States.
April 11, 1890: Iowa Representative Isaac S. Struble introduces a bill aimed at disfranchising all who practice polygamy in every Territory of the United States.
Both of these bill are combined, and called the Cullom-Struble bill.
"It provided that no person living in plural marriage, or who taught polygamy, or was a member or contributed to the support of any organization that advised or encouraged the practice, or who assisted in the solemnization of plural marriages, should vote, serve as a juror, or hold office in Utah." (ph, pg. 482).
"In a press interview, the Governor [Thomas] stated that the decision of the Court of Last Resort in the Idaho disfranchisement case had been accepted by leading members of Congress as the solution of the Utah problem, and he expressed the opinion that the Cullom-Struble bill would probably become a law." (ph, pg. 483).The Deseret News ran an editorial by Charles W. Penrose giving their position (probably to be considered the Church's position as well, although it wasn't official as it was editorial) on April 12, 1890. A link to this editorial can be found here. From the start of the editorial, Mr. Penrose is decidedly against this new legislation, which he calls the "[R. N.] Baskin anti-'Mormon' bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Cullom."
"It includes the extremest features of the Idaho test oath, besides going still further than that oppressive and unjust measure.Mr. Penrose states that Latter-Day Saints are among the most loyal of citizens in the country and believe that the Constitution of the United States is an inspired document. He goes on to state that the Saints "will yet take part in the reorganization of this country upon the basic principles of the national organic law."
"Among the alleged features of the organization, membership in and support of which produces political disfranchisement, is that it 'teaches or advises that any such law as aforesaid is not supreme, or that any alleged revelation on the subject of such marriage is paramount to any such law."
This bill "would not only apply the Idaho Test Oath to Utah but would also disfranchise all Latter-day Saints in all of the territories. This literally meant that no member of the Church in Utah or any other territory could be a citizen. Thus, even where the Saints were in the great majority, they would have absolutely nothing to say about their government." (en, pg. 384).
George Q. Cannon asks his son Frank to talk with his friend, Secretary of State James G. Blaine, to try and stop the passage of this bill. Frank arranged the meeting and recorded these notes about his conversation with Secretary Blaine:
"He rose to terminate the interview. He looked at me with a smile. 'The Lord giveth,' he said, 'and the Lord taketh away.' Wouldn't it be possible for your people to find some way - without disobedience to the commands of God - to bring yourselves into harmony with the law and institutions of this country? Believe me, it's not possible for any people as weak in numbers as yours, to set themselves up as superior to the majesty of a nation like this. We may succeed, this time, in preventing your disfranchisement; but nothing permanent can be done until you 'get into line.' ... He put his arm around my shoulders, at last, and said: 'You tell your father for me - as I tell you, young man - you shall not be harmed, this time.'" (up, pg. 90).
"The Cullom-Struble Bill was not rushed through Congress as the Edmunds Bill had been; a fact owing, it is said, to the silent though potent influence of Secretary Blaine. The great political leader was convinced of the impolicy of the proposed legislation ... His powerful hand was interposed, however, with the understanding that something would be done in Utah to meet the situation." (ph, pp. 485-486).More information on the background of the bill, and Frank Cannon's involvement with stopping it can be found here. This is actually a very good read on background for the entire Manifesto, pressures on the Church to change, and what went on behind the scenes politically.
After returning from Washington, Frank J. Cannon met with President Woodruff to tell him what happened there and the expectations of certain politicians for a change in Church doctrine. The substance of the meeting is that he has learned from Washington that the Cullom-Struble bill will not pass; however, the Church must abandon polygamy entirely, or the next bill will pass.
WW: "Brother Frank, I have been making it a matter of prayer. I have wrestled mightily with the Lord. And I think I see some light."
FJC: "To be very plain with you, President Woodruff, our friends expect, and the country will insist, that the Church shall yield the practice of plural marriage."
WW: "I had hoped we wouldn't have to meet this trouble this way. You know what it means to our people. I had hoped that the Lord might open the minds of the people of this nation to the truth, so that they might be converted to the everlasting covenant. Our prophets have suffered like those of old, and I thought that the persecutions of Zion were enough - that they would bring some other reward that this."
"In polygamy, the men and women alike had been compelled to suffer on its account by the grim trials of the life itself and by the hatred of all civilization arrayed against it. They had grown to value their marriage system by what it had cost them. They had been driven by the contempt of the world to argue for its sanctity, to live up to their declarations, and to raise it in their esteem to what it professed to be, the celestial order that prevailed in the Heavens! I knew, as well as President Woodruff did, the wrench it would give their hearts to have to abandon, at last, what they had so long suffered for." (up, pp. 98-99).
May 19, 1890 - Supreme Court case: Mormon Church v. United States: 136 US 1
Short answer: Congress can dissolve the corporation of the Church, and seize specific personal and real property; therefore, the Edmunds-Tucker Act is constitutional.
The main questions of the hearing are answered here in the report on the case:
"(3) Congress had the power to repeal the act of incorporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints not only by virtue of its general power over the territories, but by virtue of an express reservation in the organic act of the Territory of Utah of the power to disapprove and annul the acts of its legislature."After the passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887, the Church tried to transfer a great deal of property to individual trustees in an attempt to avoid being classified as "Church property" and thus seizable by the Receiver; this was struck down:
"(4) The act of incorporation being repealed and the corporation dissolved, its property, in the absence of any other lawful owner, devolved to the United States, subject to be disposed of according to the principles applicable to property devoted to religious and charitable uses."
"The attempt made, after the passage of the act on February 19, 1887, and while it was in the president's hands for his approval or rejection, to transfer the property from the trustee then holding it to other persons, and for the benefit of different associations, was so evidently intended as an evasion of the law that the court below justly regarded it as void and without force or effect."Ruling: "We have carefully examined the decree, and do not find anything in it that calls for a reversal. It may perhaps require modification in some matters of detail, and for that purpose only the case is reserved for further consideration."
To say the final decision was a disappointment to the Church, would be a large understatement. This ruling meant that the United States government could seize any property of the Mormon Church it deemed necessary in order to force the Church into obedience. It appeared the government was going to grind the Saints to powder, and there was nothing that could be done to stop it.
A listing of the main properties seized by the Receiver can be found on this post here (see item #11, part 5).
The Issuance of the Manifesto:
"But the courts had decided 'against us.' The great men of the nation were determined to show us no mercy. Legislation was impending that would put us 'in the power of the wicked.' Brother George Q. Cannon, Brother John T. Caine, and the other brethren who had been in Washington, had found that the situation of the Church was critical. Brother Franklin S. Richards had advised him that our last legal defense had fallen. 'In broken and contrite spirit' he had sought the will of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that it was necessary for the Church to relinquish the practice of that principle for which the brethren had been willing to lay down their lives." (up, pp. 104-105).
Frank Cannon was requested to meet with President Woodruff.
"I hastened to Salt Lake City, to the offices of the Presidency. President Woodruff took me into a private room and read his 'manifesto.'
"Here, shaking in the hand of age, was a sheet of paper by which the future of a half million people was to be directed; and that simple old man was to speak through it, to them, with the awful authority of the voice of God.
"He told me he had written it himself, and it certainly appeared to me to be in his hand-writing. ... I found it disappointingly mild. It denied that the Church had been solemnizing any plural marriages of late, and advised the faithful 'to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the land.' In spite of this mildness, President Woodruff asked me whether I thought the Mormons would support the revelation - whether they would accept it.
"I replied that there could be no proper anxiety on that point. The majority of the Mormon people were ready for such a message." (up, pp. 99-100).
Frank is then invited to attend a meeing in the President's offices, where the rest of the available apostles from the quorum, learned of the manifesto of President Woodruff. There is far too much to quote to do justice to this piece of history. I suggest a reading of the 4th chapter of Frank's book (link: here) to better understand this. The first reactions and final acceptance by these men was good reading. Joseph F. Smith appeared to have a very hard time with this initially. I know of no other publicly available source (correct me if I'm wrong please) that conveys this story of when the Manifesto was first acknowledged. After the amount of time I've spent reading history, my opinion is that this story would appear to be a faithful account of the meeting.
The Manifesto is read in the October General Conference:
The Church had published the Manifesto to the world. It had been given to newspapers across the country and relayed to Washington D.C. so as to satisfy those in power that the Mormons had given up polygamy as a religious practice. The publishing of this document wasn't enough. Washington wanted the document read and voted on in Conference in a public manner.
"The Articles of Faith were sustained as the rule of conduct for the Church, a motion to that end having been made by Elder Franklin D. Richards, of the Council of the Twelve. The Manifesto was then read to the people in like manner, and another of the Apostles - Elder Lorenzo Snow - supplemented the reading with this motion: 'I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized, by virtue of his position, to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing, and which is dated September 25, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding .' The vote to sustain the motion was unanimous." (ph, pg. 487).
"In his private journal he made no particular mention of the circumstances leading up to the Manifesto, neither did he make any comment upon it further than to say: 'I have been called upon this day to act for the Church.'
"It was a solemn day to all Israel. The thought of suspending the practice of a principle for which they had already suffered so much, was indeed painful to thousands of the people. The responsibility, however, the Prophet of God placed upon the nation for rejecting a principle which had within it the power to redeem the world from the greatest of social evils and according to Isaiah, to take away the reproach of women who have been unjustly dealt with by ungodly men." (ww, pg. 570).
Affect of the Manifesto:
"The effect of the 'Mormon' President's official utterance upon those most favorable to the disfranchisement legislation was quite dispiriting. It came as a surprise - almost as a shock to them. They at once questioned the sincerity of the declaration, denouncing it as a sham, a trick to deceive the Nation and gain a temporary advantage. ... One of the first to recognize it as genuine, and allow it to influence his official course, was Chief Justice Zane. He had repeatedly expressed the wish that the President of the Church would issue such a statement, and now that it had come, he was glad, and received it in good faith. The day after its ratification by the Conference, Judge Zane, while examining in court certain applicants for citizenship, remarked: 'Hereafter I will not make the simple fact that an applicant is a member of the 'Mormon' Church a bar to his admission.'" (ph, pg. 489).
"In any discussion of the public affairs that make the subject matter of this narrative, a line of discrimination must be drawn at the year 1890. In that year the Church began a progressive course of submission to the civil law, and the nation received each act of surrender with forgiveness. The previous defiances of the Mormon people ceased to give grounds for a complaint against them. The old harshnesses of the Federal government were canceled by the new generosity of a placated nation. And neither party to the present strife in Utah should go back, beyond the period of this composition, to dig up, from the past, its buried wrongs." (up, pg. 112).
"Within the space of a few days a revolution was completed that had been sought by the power of our nation and of the civilized world, for a generation, with stripes and imprisonment, death, confiscation and the ostracism of the country's public contempt. It had been obtained, I knew, chiefly by the sagacity of the First Councilor using the pressure of circumstances to enforce the persuasions of diplomacy." (up, pg. 114).
=== 1891 ===
The People's Party in Utah was dissolved and most of its members united with the two great nation parties - Democrats and Republicans. Under the Liberal rule Salt Lake City became a regular rendezvous for foot pads, burglars, and thieves. Immorality, wickedness and lawlessness had full sway; taxation was made oppressive and unjust. (cc, pg. 190).
February 13, 1891 - The former residence of George Q. Cannon on South Temple Street, and other valuable property in Salt Lake City, were seized by the US Marshal, under the pretense that it was escheated Church property.
May 25, 1891 - US Supreme Court rendered a decision that the escheated Church property should still remain in the hands of the Receiver, and the Utah Supreme Court should take further action in the case.
June, 1891 - The People's Party (Church Party) dissolved.
July 1, 1891 - Utah Supreme Court appointed Judge Charles F. Loofbourow to take testimony in the Church suits as a Master of Chancery.
September 27, 1891 - Joseph F. Smith addresses a congregation in the tabernacle - his first public appearance in years.
October 19, 1891 - Judge Loofbourow began taking testimony in the escheated Church property cases, with a view to deciding what charitable uses the escheated Church property should be applied to. Presidents Wilford Woodruff and George Q. Cannon testified.
October 27, 1891 - Judge Zane decided that the Whitney property of the Tithing Office block, the Cannon House on South Temple street, the Council House Corner, SLC, were exempt from confiscation, as well as the Tabernacle Square and other property at Ogden.
November 11, 1891 - After a lengthy investigation in the 3rd district court, Judge Zane rendered a decree escheating the Tithing Office, Gardo House, Historian's Office, and Church farm to the government.
December 1, 1891 - The Gardo House was vacated by the Church as escheated property.
December 19, 1891 - Petition for Amnesty signed by prominent men of the Church (leaders) and endorsed by Governor Thomas, Chief Justice Zane, and other 'gentiles.'
"A Sentiment for Tolerance: Cases of unlawful cohabitation continued to be prosecuted as fast as they came to the knowledge of the Government officers. But gradually a sentiment grew - and it was shared by all classes of the community - that men who had married polygamously before the date of the Manifesto, should not be interfered with for living with their plural families while caring for and supporting them. No more polygamous marriages were to be entered into, but time was to be given for plural relationships already existing to pass away by natural processes, and men involved in such relations were not to be compelled to desert their wives and children and cast them adrift. ... Consequently such prosecutions ceased." (ph, pg. 490).
"During 1891, President Woodruff's manifesto had been ratified in local Church conferences in every 'stake of Zion;' and a second General Conference had endorsed it in October of that year. President Woodruff, Councilor Joseph F. Smith and Apostle Lorenzo Snow went before the Federal Master in Chancery - in a proceeding to regain possession of escheated Church property - and swore that the manifesto had prohibited plural marriages, that it required a cessation of all plural marriage living, and that it was being obeyed by the Mormon people." (up, pp. 126-127).
Master in Chancery Hearings:
These hearings were to help decide where the escheated property would go. Many prominent church members testified here.
"About a year after the date of the Manifesto, the question of its scope, as affecting not only polygamous marriages, but also the continuance of polygamous living was made the subject of a searching inquiry before Judge C.F. Loofbourow, at Salt Lake City. In explanation of this action, it should be known that the United States Supreme Court had decided that all Church property in the hands of the Receiver should remain there pending further action by the Utah courts, and Judge Loofbourow had been appointed a Master in Chancery, to take testimony and determine the uses to which the escheated property might best be applied. ... The hearing before the Master in Chancery took place in October, 1891. Among the witnesses examined were Presidents Woodruff, Cannon, and Smith, and Elders Lorenzo Snow and Anthon H. Lund of the Council of the Twelve. According to their testimony, the Manifesto enjoined obedience to the laws of the land enacted against plural marriage, both as to the ceremony and the cohabitation thereunder." (ph, pp. 489-490).
"On the 19th of October, 1891, President Woodruff was cited before the Master and Chancery to testify to the scope of the Manifesto in the Escheat cases. The question there involved was the subject of unlawful cohabitation. He had issued the Manifesto and was therefore best qualified to interpret the meaning which it had to his mind, or which was conveyed by his language." (ww, pg. 577).
Petition for Amnesty:
"On December 18, 1891, the leaders of the Church petitioned the government for amnesty. President Benjamin Harrison, who was skeptical of the Saints' sincerity, gradually changed. By January 4, 1893, he issued a full pardon to those who had been guilty of unlawful cohabitation prior to November 1, 1890, and had obeyed the law since that time and pledged to do so in the future." (en, pg. 388).
=== 1892 ===
January 15, 1892 - Judge Loofbourow filed his report stating that escheated property from the Church be used by public schools.
February 13, 1892 - Plea for Amnesty presented to Congress from Church authorities.
July 8, 1892 - The Utah Supreme Court ordered the Receiver to turn over all confiscated property to the Secretary of the Interior (Tithing House, Church farm, coal lands, Historian's Office, and the Guardo House).
November 12, 1892 - Judge Zane opinion that personal confiscated property can be used to help repair houses of worship and support the poor.
=== 1893 ===
January 4, 1893 - President Harrison issued a proclamation for amnesty.
April 6, 1893 - SLC Temple dedicated.
May 23, 1893 - SLC Temple opened for ordinances.
October 5, 1893 - Return of Church property - passed House.
October 21, 1893 - Return of Church property - passed Senate.
October 23, 1893 - Return of Church property - House concurs with Senate amendments.
October 25, 1893 - President signs the resolution returning personal Church property.
August 31, 1893 - Utah Supreme Court appoints John R. Winder Receiver for confiscated Church properties.
"A movement to restore the personal property, which had been taken without warrant of law, was already on foot, Delegate Rawlins having presented to Congress, during September, a resolution to that end. This property was valued at about four hundred thousand dollars. ... By the resolution, the personal property and money of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not arising from the sale or rents of real estate since March 3, 1887, was 'restored to said Church, to be applied under the direction and control of the First Presidency of said Church to the charitable uses and purposes thereof.'" (ph, pg. 502).
"In October of that year, Congress passed a bill restoring the property of the Church. This act brought some financial relief and was a source of satisfaction to the Saints generally. Litigation, however, over Church property had been a source of great waste to it. Many who had urged the confiscation of Church property had realized some of their hopes in the dispossession of it as the litigation over the property had been a source of wealth to them, and although their hopes had been realized, their motives had been revealed." (ww, pg. 584).
=== 1896 ===
"Statehood year was made memorable to the Latter-day Saints by the return of the Church's real property, taken by the Federal Government under the provisions of the Edmunds-Tucker Act. The confiscated personal property was already restored, and now a joint resolution of the Senate and House, approved by President Cleveland March 28, 1896, returned in like manner the escheated real estate." (ph, pg. 509).
Official Declaration 1
To Whom It May Concern:
Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy—
I, therefore, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory.
One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, in the Spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge. In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay.
Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.
There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Lorenzo Snow offered the following:
“I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing, and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.”
The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.
Salt Lake City, Utah, October 6, 1890.
Reference to the manifesto as contained in the current revision of the LDS Church's Doctrine and Covenants: Official Declaration 1