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THE EDMUNDS BILL.
THE EDMUNDS BILL. A few rambling thoughts on the un- , expressly intended to defeat the will of constitutionality of late Congressional | the people. The non-Mormon portion anti-Mormon legislation are here pre- of the residents of Utah can in no sense sented. Though the field of inquiry is be designated "the people.” They are, vast, and the subject inviting, we shall in the first place, in a pitiable minority, simply touch on one or two phases of the and with some honorable exceptions are question, leaving to abler pens the the instigators, abettors, patrons and investigation of the subject in other perpetrators of nine-tenths of the evil directions. Our thoughts run mainly that is done, and the crime that is comtowards the powers of the newly created mitted within the Territory. Yet this Commissioners, and the absurdity of the bill is expressly framed, and this Comagreement that legislation against plural mission is created, on purpose that this marriage is not an unjustifiable interfer small and disreputable minority may have ance with the rights of religious liberty. given to them the control of the Terri
Under our Organic Act the Governor | torial legislature. If it can control the may withhold his assent from any laws organization of this body by dictating passed by the Territorial Legislature the choice of its members generally, or when they are sent to him in the regular by having a sufficient number "returned" way; but he cannot elect its members, by the Commission to hold the balance of or interfere with their election, without a power, it thereby controls legislative violation of every fundamental principle action on all vital matters. It can ruin of free republican government, and the Territory by unjust and oppressive a subversion of our country's most taxation, it can produce anarchy by cherished institutions. And what is vicious legislation, it can fill all offices here said with regard to the Governor with corruptionists or desparadoes, who applies equally to a Commission, both are would prey upon the people, it can inflict alien to the spirit of the Constitution, as unusual penalties for imaginary crimes, both receive their powers from sources it can abridge religious worship by dein which the people to be governed, and fining religion to suit its own depraved whose elections are sought to be con notions, and making all rites, ordinances, trolled, have no voice.
and ceremonies, inconsistent with its The world should understand dis enactments, a felony or a misdemeanor, tinctly as we understand, that the Com and it can rob the citizens of Utah of mission is not appointed in the interest every right dear to those who cherish of free and fair elections, of a pure human liberty and seek to worship God ballot and a fair count, because these according to the light and wisdom results can be better secured without Heaven has endowed them with, unorthotheir interference than with. Their dox though it be. Whilst the citizen, like office is created that they may lay their Issachar of old, will crouch down hands on the voter when he approaches between two burdens, the burden of the ballot box, to intimidate him with debt and the burden of enslavement; threats of prosecution in expensive with no more right in the control of his and unfriendly courts, to wrest from him own government than this irresponsible the evidences of his title to the suffrage, returning board may see fit to grant him. and to place his liberty in jeopardy and This is what is intended by those who subject his property to virtual confisca framed and fathered the “Edmunds bill;" tion through ruinous prosecutions and such will be the results should God outrageous court expenses, and fines or permit, yet there are some so blind to the forfeitures. In all this the “Edmunds rights of American citizens, that they bill” is unconstitutional.
still protest that the “Edmund's bill" is This law is contrary to the entire spirit not unconstitutional. of American Government in that it is Many make the mistake of thinking that
THE EDMUNDS BILL.
they have the right to define other dent on the caprice or whim of nonpeople's religion. This is what bigots believers. In the case of “Mormon" have been trying to do from time im- plural marriage it cannot be honestly memorable. This is what the United argued that “the preservation of equal States Supreme Court presumed to do rights,” or “the existence of the State” when it rendered its illogical and partisan were manifestly endangered by its observdecision in the case of the writer of this ance as a religious principle. Nowhere paper; when it compared marriage with | in the world are the rights of men better murder, the giving of life to the destruc- preserved than in Utah, nowhere in the tion of life. My answer could only be nation has taxation been lighter, nowhere like that of the worthy John Bunyan, “I have the public funds been disbursed cannot obey, but I can suffer.” It is well with more economy and honesty, nowhere understood that no power is given the have the legislators been so unanimously general government to interfere with the choice of the people. For these and religion. Any act of Congress on this many other causes it cannot be consubject is usurpation. No sect may be sistently asserted, that religious plural preferred to another. Every man has a marriage interfered with the rights of right to worship the God he thinks proper. the commonwealth or the good governAll men of equal capacity and integrity ment of the State. If our system of are eligible to office. Temporal violence marriage filled the land with deserted might make men wicked, but never mothers, with betrayed maidens, with religious. No religious test should be fatherless waifs, or if, like prostitution required; a test would enable the domi- , and polyandry, it produced barrenness nant sect to persecute the rest.
and disease, and therefore was evidently Mr. Madison's idea "No man to be sub at war with natural laws, there might be jected, on account of religion, to any some excuse for moral legislation; but penalties or disabilities, unless, under when the contrary is the result and well the color of religion, the preservation of regulated polygamy fills the country with equal liberty, and the existence of the a race of bright, healthy, intelligent and State are manifestly endangered.” To bonny children, then the subterfuge of avoid these difficulties arising out of the injury to the State can only be maintained guarantees to full religious liberty, those by those who call evil good, and good in power in the nation have taken it upon evil, black white, and white black, and themselves to declare what shall be the who praise all things for the possession
religion, where it may of traits or qualities entirely different to begin and where it must end; and whilst those which are really their’s. Because we most solemnly affirm that plural this anti-Mormon legislation outrages all marriage is a principle of our religion, these common-sense safeguards to reand therefore protected by the Constitu- ligion, it is clearly as unconstitutional as tion they assert that it is not, and because any law that malignant ingenuity could it is not, according to their assumptions, frame.
Geo. Reynolds. they proceed to legislate against it, and add insult to injury, by hypocritically
do your religion no What is the ostensible object of this violence, believe what you like, but only bill? The abolishment of the practice of permit.
polygamy among the Mormons. What Whenever one man's conscience is in is the real object of the bill? To take the hands of another, farewell religious from Mormons and give to non-Mor
as that man is con mons all of the local offices and political bigotry did not make men blind, and If superstition and religious power in the Territory.
By all parties polygamy was chosen as drive them insane, the American peo- the object to aim at, because it is so very he would clearly perceive that that unpopular,and a greater pressure could be is no religion at all, which is depen- / brought, through this means, to bear upon
bonds of our
crying out we
practice what we
liberty, so cerned.
THE EDMUNDS BILL.
Congress. The religionists throughout government seem to hold to the belief the States could be more generally united that a written constitution is not elastic with polygamy as a slogan than with any enough; that it hampers and retards other war cry. No doubt many of them progress; that cases may and do arise are sincere and think they are doing their where its provisions should be disreduty. On the other hand, with the ma garded. One argument against a written jority, it is only a continuance of the old constitution is that the meaning of words controversy, that is said to have originated change. And it is this change in the between Cain and Abel. With the poli meaning of words which has led many to ticians in the Territory the desire is to think that the law of 1862 against polyget control of the finances and affairs of gamy was unconstitutional. the Territory. No doubt there is another The duty of the judicial branch of class who hope there will be open resist- government is to interpret the laws made ance and finally a distribution of spoils. by the law-making branch. To do this The non-Mormon business men here, as the former must know the ideas intended a rule, were not active in bringing about to be conveyed by the words used at the this legislation, as it is to their advantage time they were used. The Constitution that nothing should occur that will affect says: “Congress shall make no law revalues or disturb business; on the other specting an establishment of religion, or hand they did nothing to allay the excite- prohibit the free exercise thereof."This ment that brought about this legislation. appears to mean that Congress shall have It appears that the classes here most desir no power to establish, by law, a national ous of extreme measures against the Mor- | religion, such as was in England at the mons are the representatives of the vari- time, neither shall Congress interfere ous religious parties; those who hope with any individual's religion. Now the to get office; those who expect to meaning of the word religion, at that time, profit by litigation, and those who hope and as used by Congress, is what the Sufor pillage, should there be an open rup preme Court has to decide upon. Will ture.
the practice of polygamy come within the The motives which controlled the mem- meaning of the word religion as used bers of Congress were: the pleasing of then? Was there then any religious their constituents by obeying popular body in Christendom that had adopted it clamor; and the feeling that actuated as a religious tenet? True it was pracGladstone, who, in his famous article on ticed by a large portion of mankind then “Catholic Allegiance," writing of Rome, as now, as a social condition. Was there said: “That no one can now become her not, in the countries which our forefathers convert without renouncing his moral and came from, and in each of the American mental freedom, and placing his civil loy- | colonies, a law against bigamy? alty and duty at the mercy of another.” What will be the results of this bill? As to the constitutionality of some of the Is there any hope of an amicable adjustmeasures of the bill, there appeared to ment of affairs? Does either party desire be a difference of opinion in regard to that such an adjustment? Is it not true that matter among the members of Congress, neither side credits the other with sin. when discussing the bill. Some agreed cerity? As to the effects of the law, time that it was unconstitutional in some re only can reveal them. Not infrequently spects, at least so it was reported; but laws produce different, or quite opposite the law would accomplish all that was effects than those intended by their mak. contemplated before the question could With a capable and honest Com. be got before the only tribunal that was mission, which will not transcend its les authorized to decide that question. What- gitimate powers, the law may not work ever hardships the law can be made to any very great hardship to the Territory. work will be completed before the case There appear to be three courses for ever gets to the Supreme Court.
the people to pursue. One is emigration; The law-making department of our another is to break the law and take the
THE EDMUNDS BILL.
consequences individually as heretofore; stitution of the United States has stood the third is to obey the law. The first the test of wars, turmoils, popular clamor and second have been tried, the last is still and bigoted fanaticism, and maintained before us as an experiment. There is inviolate its authority as the guarantee of some hope that the President may use the the divine rights of humanity, and the pardoning power conferred upon him, to bulwarks of national and individual libmitigate evils that cannot, apparently, be erty. When the star of the young Regot over any other way.
public rose in the horizon of nations, All improvements of a people come religion and science, human agency and from internal cause, by revolutions, which divine inspiration hailed its appearance are often violent and evils at the time; with songs of joy, and white-robed peace or from outside pressure which is slower chanted the gospel of liberty to nations and more permanent in its effects. The afar off; and few were willing to concede cause which produces revolutions in that in the near or remote future the time governments is the conflict which always would ever come, when political demaexists between the people and their rul
gogues, or religious fanatics would dare ers, no matter what the form of govern to lift their sacreligious hands against the ment may be. This confiict is caused palladium of American freedom, or sucby the continuous endeavor on the part ceed in striking down the bulwark of of the rulers to increase their power human rights. over the people, and the effort of the It was reserved in the destiny of fate people to preserve their freedom. The for the Forty-seventh Congress of the powers of government are usually ac United States of America to place itself cumulated slowly and almost impercept
on record before the world as having ibly. When these powers become great
openly, deliberately and designedly viothey are used to oppress the people mak lated the Constitution, disregarded the ing them pay taxes, or work cheaply, oath of office, and trailed the honor of while the taxes and labor are used to
the American nation in the dust of hubuild fine residences for the rulers to live
miliation, in order to gratify ecclesiastiin and enjoy an idle and luxurious life. cal bigotry and political partizanship. When the contrast between the con
The acts of men make history, and the dition of the people and their rulers be enactment of to-day, be it wise and comes so great that the people can no statesmanlike or arbitrary and injurious, longer endure it, the people rise in their
becomes the precedent and key note for anger and destroy their rulers and similar legislation in the future. Now change the form of government. This
that the heat and excitement of popular mode of improvement is sometimes
fury has in some measure subsided, and necessary
never good, as the innocent all parties can look calmly and dispassuffer with the guilty. The wisest rulers sionately, if they will, at the probable reare those who appreciate this inevitable
sults of partizan legislation, it will not be conflict between themselves and their inappropriate for us to review the cause, subjects, and try to keep it at its minimum.
purpose and provisions of this most exMay it not be, therefore, that finally traordinary Congressional monstrosity we shall find this, and all other measures
called “ The Edmunds Bill." hoped to disrupt and destroy,
The conditions that have led to this will prove to be just the forces necessary
most unwarrantable proceeding are so develop the intelligence well known as scarcely to need recapituand talents so necessary to make a good
lation. A handful of hardy, industrious government, of the people, for the people,
and loyal people, isolated in a measure H. 7. Richards. from the rest of society, by the great nat
ural barriers that surround their moun. tain home, being organized into a Terri
tory under the jurisdiction of the United For over one hundred years the Con- States, have dared to claim and exercise
to unite and to
and by the people?
THE EDMUNDS BILL.
the rights guaranteed to them by the sions of the act make the free exercise of Constitution of the United States, and religious opinions a crime, and imposes worship God according to the dictates pains and penalties upon an individual of their consciences. In the social con who has been or is in a condition which ditions maintained by them virtue is re by this act is rendered a criminal one, in spected, woman honored, family ties presenti, these pains and penalties to opsanctified by religious obligations, and erate, eo instanti, without trial by jury or the home made the type of heaven. conviction by any judicial tribunal acUnited together by the strongest bond, cording to the forms of law. The conthe law of self-preservation, their numer struction of the crime, by the passage of ical proportion being seven to one, as the act and the operation of the penalty compared with those who hold contrary are synchronous in their character, punviews, they have hitherto been enabled, ishing an individual with political disin spite of official carpet-baggers, and ab- qualification whose status is unchanged, solute veto power vested in any political except by the passage of the law making adventurer, foisted upon the people as his acts previous to its becoming law Governor by the Federal government; in criminal by its passage, thus rendering spite of the prejudice, bigotry and cease the law retroactive in its effect, and violess misrepresentation of clerical schem lating section nine of the Constitution, ers, or so-called Christian ministers, and which expressly prohibits Congress from in spite of the social corruption and open passing any bill of attainder, or ex post profligacy introduced as reforming agen- facto law. cies of a Christian civilization in spite The Organic Act of the Territory conof all these antagonizing influences, they fers upon every white male inhabitant have exhibited to the world an example the right to vote and hold office within of social purity, personal integrity, com the Territory, unless otherwise debarred mercial enterprise, financial stability, offi- by the Legislative Assembly. The “Ed. cial incorruptibility, and religious liber munds bill” places it in the power of five ality that would do honor to any race, commissioners, who have no vested innation or country.
terests in the Territory, and who are apThese are the people against whom pointed by the President without the conthe Congress of the United States, sent of the people, to reject the vote of hounded on by a political minority of un an individual suspected of bigamy, or scrupulous adventurers, and lashed into polygamy, without trial or hearing, witha spasm of unholy indignation by cleri out indictment and without conviction. cal hypocrites, have fulminated a bill of There are some rights possessed by pains and penalties, unconstitutional in American citizens which have been conits provisions, retroactive in its charac ferred by the Constitution; there are ter, subversive of every principle of Re. others which existed before the Constipublican government and constitutional tution was adopted, which are guaranteed liberty, placing absolute power in the to the people by that instrument, and hands of an irresponsible Commission, preserved in it, and which, being inherwho are expected to work the political ent in American civilization and law bemachine in the interest of a minority who fore the adoption of the Constitution and hope to fatten on the spoils wrenched the organization of Congress, are as infrom their helpless victims. Polygamy violable as the Constitution itself. One is the warcry; plunder is the secret main of these inherent rights is the right of spring; and beneath all, permeating the every individual accused of crime to a whole question, is the undying antago trial by judicial process, and a due obnism of darkness to light, error to truth, servance of the forms of law, before any and superstition to the Gospel of Christ. punishment can be inflicted. This bill
By this bill constitutional liberty and sweeps away every such right, and abrorepublican principles are placed on trial gates every constitutional guarantee of before the civilized world. The provi- | individual liberty. By the old English