|Home -> Miscellaneous Books -> Under the Prophet in Utah -> Chapter III - Without a Country|
Without A Country
So I came to Washington. So I entered the capital of the government that commanded my allegiance and inspired my fear. I wonder whether another American ever saw that city with such eyes of envy, of aspiration, of wistful pride, of daunted admiration. Here were all the consecrations of a nation's memories, and they thrilled me, even while they pierced me with the sense that I was not, and might well despair of ever being, a citizen of their glory. Here were the monuments of patriotism in Statuary Hall, erected to the men whose histories had been the inspiration of my boyhood; and I remember how I stood before them, conscious that I was now almost an outlaw from their communion of splendor. I remember how I saw, with an indescribable conflict of feelings, the ranked graves of the soldiers in the cemetery at Arlington, and recollected that this very ground had been taken from General Lee, that heroic opponent of Federal authority - and read the tablet, "How sleep the brave who sink to rest by all their country's wishes bless'd, " - and bowed in spirit to the nation's benediction upon the men who had upheld its power. I was awed by a prodigious sense of the majesty of that power. I saw with fear its immovability to the struggles of our handful of people. And at night, walking under the trees of Lafayette Park, with all the odors of the southern Spring among the leaves, I looked at the lighted front of the White House and realized that behind the curtains of those quiet windows sat the ruler who held the almost absolute right of life and death over our community - as if it were the palace of a Czar that I must soon enter, with a petition for clemency, which he might refuse to entertain!
When I had been in Washington, four years before, as secretary to Delegate John T. Caine of Utah, I had felt a younger assurance that our resistance would slowly wear out the Federal authority and carry us through to statehood. Four years of disaster had starved out that hope. The proposition had been established that Congress had supreme control over the territories; and there was no virtue either in our religious assumption of warrant to speak for God, or in our plea of inherent constitutional right to manage our own affairs. Thirty years earlier, my father had been elected Senator from the proposed state of Utah, and he had been rejected. In thirty years so little progress had been made! The way that was yet to travel seemed very long and very dark.
Out of this mood of despondence I had to lift myself by an act of will. There, Washington itself helped me against itself. I made a pilgrimage of courage to its commemorations of courage, and drew an inspiration of hope from its monuments to the achievements of its past. And particularly I went to the house in which my father had lived when he had had his part in the statesman life of the capital, and animated my resolution with the thought that I must succeed in order that he might be restored in public honor.
I narrate all this personal incident of emotion in the hope that it may help to explain a success that might otherwise seem inexplicable. The Mormon Church had, for years, employed every art of intrigue and diplomacy to protect itself in Washington. I wish to make plain that it was not by any superior cunning of negotiation that my mission succeeded. I undertook the task almost without instruction; I performed it without falsehood; I had nothing in my mind but an honest loyalty for my own people, a desire to be a citizen of my native country, and a filial devotion to the one man in the world, whom I most admired.
When I delivered my letter of introduction from Mr. Hewitt to Mr. William C. Whitney, Secretary of the Navy, I found him very busy with his work in his department - carrying out the plans that established the modern American navy and entitled him to be called the "father" of it. He withdrew from the men who were discussing designs and figures at a table in his room, and sat with me before a window that looked out upon the White House and its grounds; and he listened to me, interestedly, genially, but with a thought still (as I could see) for the affairs that my arrival had interrupted. He struck me as a man who was used to having many weighty matters together on his mind, without finding his attention crowded by them all, and without being impatient in his consideration of any.
I developed with him an idea which I had been considering: that the President might not only help the Mormons by taking up their case, but might gain political prestige for the coming campaign for re-election, by adjusting the dissentions in Utah. He heard me with a twinkle. He thought an interview might be arranged. He made an appointment to see me in the afternoon and to have with him Colonel Daniel S. Lamont, the President's secretary, who was then Mr. Cleveland's political "trainer."
My meeting with Colonel Lamont, in the afternoon, began jocularly. "This," Mr. Whitney introduced me, "is the young man who has a plan to use that mooted - and booted - Mormon question to re-elect the President."
"Hardly that, Mr. Secretary," I said. "I have a plan to help my father and his colleagues to regain their citizenship. If President Cleveland's re-election is essential to it, I suppose I must submit. You know I'm a Republican."
They laughed. We sat down. And I found at once that Colonel Lamont understood the situation in Utah, thoroughly. He had often discussed it, he said, with the Church's agents in Washington. I went over the situation with him, as I had gone over it with Mr. Sandford, in careful detail. He seemed surprised at my assurance that my father and the other proscribed leaders of the Church would submit themselves to the courts if they could do so on the conditions that I proposed; I convinced him of the possibility by referring him to Mr. Richards, the Church's attorney in Washington, for a confirmation of it. I pointed out that if these leaders surrendered, President Cleveland could be made the direct beneficiary, politically, of their composition with the law.
Colonel Lamont was a small, alert man with a conciseness of speech and manner that is associated in my memory with the bristle of his red mustache cut short and hard across a decisive mouth. He radiated nervous vitality; and I understood, as I studied him, how President Cleveland, with his infinite patience for survived so well in the multitudinous duties of his office - having as his secretary a man born with the ability to cut away the non-essentials, and to pass on to Mr. Cleveland only the affairs worthy of his careful deliberation.
I was doubtful whether I should tell Colonel Lamont and Mr. Whitney of my conversation with Mr. Sandford. I decided that their considerateness entitled them to my full confidence, and I told them all - begging them, if I was indiscreet or undiplomatic, to charge the offense to my lack of experience rather than to debit it against my cause.
They passed it off with banter. It was understood that the President should not be told - and that I should not tell him - of my talk with Mr. Sandford. Colonel Lamont undertook to arrange an audience with Mr. Cleveland for me. "You had better wait," he said, "until I can approach him with the suggestion that there's a young man here, from Utah, whom he ought to see."
I knew, then, that I was at least well started on the open road to success. I knew that if Colonel Lamont said he would help me, there would be no difficulties in my way except those that were large in the person of the President himself.
Two days later I received the expected word from Colonel Lamont, and I went to the White House as a man might go to face his own trial. I met the secretary in one of the eastern upstairs rooms of the official apartments; and after the usual crowd had passed out, he led me into the President's office - which then overlooked the Washington monument, the Potomac and the Virginia shore. Mr. Cleveland was working a his desk. Colonel Lamont introduced me by name, and added, "the young man from Utah, of whom I spoke."
The President did not look up. He was signing some papers, bending heavily over his work. It took him a moment or two to finish; then he dropped his pen, pushed aside the papers, turned awkwardly in his swivel chair and held out his hand to me. It was a cool, firm hand, and its grasp surprised me, as much as the expression of his eyes - the steady eyes of complete self-control, composure, intentness.
I had come with a prejudice against him; I was a partisan of Mr. Blame, whom he had defeated for the Presidency; I believed Mr. Blame to be the abler man. But there was something in Mr. Cleveland's hand and eyes to warn me that however slow-moving and even dull he might appear, the energy of a firm will compelled and controlled him. It stiffened me into instant attention.
He made some remark to Colonel Lamont to indicate that our conversation was to occupy about half an hour. He asked me to be seated in a chair at the right-hand side of his desk. He said almost challengingly: "You're the young man they want I should talk to about the Utah question."
The tone was not exactly unkind, but it was not inviting. I said, "Yes, sir."
He looked at me, as a judge might eye the suspect of circumstantial evidence. "You're the son of one of the Mormon leaders."
I admitted it.
And then he began.
He began with an account of what he had done to compose the differences in Utah. He explained and justified the appointments he had made there - appointments that had been recommended by Southern senators and representatives who, because they were Southerners, were opposed to the undue extension and arbitrary use of Federal power. He had made Caleb W. West of Kentucky governor of Utah on the recommendation of Senator Blackburn of Kentucky, my father's friend. He had made Frank H. Dyer, originally of Mississippi, United States Marshal. He had appointed a District Attorney in whom he had every confidence. He had a right to believe that these men, recommended by the statesmen of the South, would execute and adjudicate the laws in Utah according to the most lenient Southern construction of Federal rights. He dwelt upon Governor West's charitable intentions towards the Mormon leaders, went over West's efforts at pacification in accurate detail, and told of West's chagrin at his failure - with an irritation that showed how disappointed he himself was with the continued recurrence of the Mormon troubles.
I had to tell him 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.
"Mr. President," I pleaded, "I've lived in Utah all my life. I know these people from both points of view. You know of the situation only from Federal office holders who consider it solely with regard to their official responsibility to you and to the country. Why not learn what the Mormons think?"
He replied that it was not within the province of the President - his power or his duty - to consider the mental attitude of men who were opposing the enforcement of the law.
It was an inexcusable offense against the general welfare that one community should be rising continually against the Federal authority and occupying the time and attention of Congress with a determined recalcitrance.
For an hour, he continued, with vigor and dignity, to describe the situation as he saw it; and he chilled me to the heart with his determination to concede nothing more to a community that had refused to be placated by what he had already conceded. I listened without trying, without even wishing, to interrupt him; for I had been warned by Mr. Whitney and Colonel Lamont that it would be wise to let him deliver himself of his opinion before attempting to influence him to a milder one; and I could not contradict anything that he said, for he made no misstatements of fact.
Colonel Lamont had entered once, and had withdrawn again when he saw that Mr. Cleveland was still talking. At the end of about an hour, the President rose. "Mr. Cannon," he said, "I don't see what more I can do than has already been done. Tell your people to obey the law, as all other citizens are required to obey it, and they'll find that their fellow-citizens of this country will do full justice to their heroism and their other good qualities. If the law seems harsh, tell them that there's an easy way to avoid its cruelty by simply getting out from under its condemnation."
His manner indicated that the conference was at an end. He reached out his hand as if to drop the subject then and forever, as far as I was concerned. "Mr. President," I asked, with the composure of desperation, "do you really want to settle the Mormon question?"
He looked at me with the first gleam of humor that had shown in his eyes - and it was a humor of peculiar richness and unction. "Young man," he asked, "what have I been saying to you all this time? What have I been working for, ever since I first took up the consideration of this subject at the beginning of my term?"
"Mr. President," I replied, "if you were traveling 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?"
He had been regarding me with slowly fading amusement that gave way to an expression of grave attention.
"I've been watching this situation for several years," I went on, "and it seems to me that there's the possibility of a just, a humane, and a final settlement of it, by getting the Mormon leaders to come voluntarily into court - and it can be done! - with the assurance that the object of the administration is to correct the community evil - not to exterminate the Mormon Church or to persecute its 'prophets,' but to secure obedience to the law and respect for the law, and to lead Utah into a worthy statehood."
I paused. He thought a moment. Then he said: "I can't talk any longer, now. Make another appointment with Lamont. I want to hear what you have to say." And he dismissed me.
Colonel Lamont told me to come back on the following afternoon; and I went away with the dubious relief of feeling that if I had not yet won my case I had, at least, succeeded in having judgment reserved. I went to work to arrange my arguments for the morrow, to make them as concise as possible and to divide them into brief chapters in case I should have as little opportunity for extended explanations as the President had been giving me. I saw that the whole matter was gloomy and oppressive to him - that his responsibility was as dark on his mind as our sufferings - and I took the hint of his amused interest, in order to work out ways of brightening the subject with anecdote and illustration.
I saw Colonel Lamont on the morrow, and he beamed a congratulation on me. "You've aroused his curiosity," he said. "You've interested him."
He had made an appointment some days ahead; and when I entered the President's office to keep that appointment, I found Mr. Cleveland at his desk, as if he had not moved in the interval, laboriously reading and signing papers as before. It gave me an impression of immovability, of patient and methodical relentlessness that was disheartening.
But as soon as he turned to me, I found him another man. He was interested, receptive, almost genial. He gave me an opportunity to cover the whole ground of my case, and I went over it step by step. He showed no emotion when I recited some of the incidents of pathetic suffering among our people; and at first he seemed doubtful whether he should be amused by the humorous episodes that I narrated. But I did not wish merely to amuse him; I was trying to convey to his mind (without saying so) that so long as a people could suffer and laugh too, they could never be overcome by the mere reduplication of their sufferings. 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 its 'revealed' destination."
I do not remember - and if I did, it would be tedious to relate - the exact sequence and progression of argument in this interview and the dozen others that succeeded it. Mr. Cleveland became more and more interested in the Mormon people, their family life, their religion, and their politics. He was as painstaking in acquiring information about them as he was in performing all the other duties of his office. I might have been discouraged by the number and apparent ineffectiveness of my interviews with him, had not Colonel Lamont kept me informed of the growth of the President's good feeling and of his genuinely paternal interest in the people of Utah. It became more than a personal desire with Mr. Cleveland to benefit politically by a settlement of the Mormon troubles, if indeed he had ever had such a desire. His humanity was enlisted, his conscience appealed to.
He asked me, once, if I knew anything of Mr. Sandford, and I replied that I knew him and believed in him. He told me, at last, that he was going to appoint Mr. Sandford Chief Justice of Utah, and added significantly, "I suppose he will get in touch with the situation." I accepted this remark as a permission to confer with Mr. Sandford, and I journeyed to New York to see him and to renew the understanding I had with him.
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 came before him in court and pleaded guilty to two indictments charging him with "unlawful cohabitation." He was fined $450 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, who is today the President of the Quorum of the twelve Apostles and next in rank for the Presidency. 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.
There are memories in a man's life that have a peculiar value. One such, to me, is the picture I have in mind of my father undergoing his penitentiary sentence, wearing his prison clothes with an unconsciousness that makes me still feel a pride in the power of the human soul to rise superior to the deformities of circumstance. Charles Wilcken (whom I have described driving us to Bountiful) was visiting him one day in the prison office, when a guard entered with his hat on. Wilcken snatched it from his head. "Never enter his presence," he said, "without taking it off." And the guard never did again . . . . I salute the memory. I come to it with my head bare and my back stiffened. I see in that calm face the possibilities of the human spirit. He was a man!
He spent his time, there, as he would have spent it elsewhere, writing, conferring with the agents of his authority, planning for his people. I saw he was aware that he would emerge from his imprisonment a free man, personally, but still enslaved by the conditions of the community; and I knew that he would use his freedom to free the others. I knew that he had accepted his sentence with this end in view. In plain words, I knew now - though he never said so - that he was looking toward the necessary recession from the doctrine of polygamy, and that he may have counted on the spectacle of his imprisonment to help prepare his people for a general submission to the law.
With the entry of these leaders into prison, the Mormons felt for them a warmer admiration, a deeper reverence; but it was mingled with a gratitude to the nation for the leniency of the court and an awed sense, too, of the power of the civil law. President Woodruff secretly and tentatively withdrew his necessary permission, as head of the Church, to the solemnization of any more plural marriages; and he ordered the demolition of the Endowment House in which such marriages had been chiefly celebrated. Many of the non-Mormons, who had despaired of any solution of the troubles in Utah, now began to hope. The country had been impoverished; the Mormons had been deprived of much of their substance and financial vigor; and reasons of business prudence among the Gentiles weighed against a continuance of proscription. Some of them distrusted the motives of their own leaders more than they did the Mormon people. Some were weary of the quarrel. For humane reasons, for business reasons, for the sake of young Utah, it was argued that the persecution should end.
But in the years 1888 and 1889, thousands of newcomers arrived in Utah with a strong antagonism to the religion and the political authority of the Mormon Church; and, with the growth of Gentile population, there came a natural determination on their part to obtain control of the local governments of cities and counties. In opposing this movement, the power of the Church was again solidified. By 1889, the Gentiles had taken the city governments of Ogden and Salt Lake City, had elected members of the legislature in Salt Lake County, and had carried the passage of a Public School Bill, against the timid and secret opposition of the Church. President Cleveland had been defeated and succeeded by President Harrison; and Chief Justice Sandford had been removed and Chief Justice Zane reinstated. (He did not adjudicate with his previous rigor, however,because of the success of Justice Sandford's policy of leniency.) The Church made no move publicly to repudiate polygamy, and its silent attitude of defiance, in this regard, gave a battle cry to all its enemies.
The crisis was precipitated by a movement that had begun in the territory of Idaho, where the Mormons had been disfranchised by means of a test oath - (a provision still remaining in the Idaho state constitution, but now nullified by the political power of the Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City.) A bill, known as the Cullom-Struble bill, was introduced at Washington, to do in Utah what had been done in Idaho.
The Church was then directed by President Woodruff and his two Councilor's, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith. But President Woodruff was as helpless in the political world as a nun. He was a gentle, earnest old man, patiently ingenuous and simple-minded, with a faith in the guidance of Heaven that was only greater than my father's because it was unmixed with any earthly sagacity. He had the mind, and the appearance, of a country preacher, and even when he was "on the underground" he used to do his daily "stint" of farm labor, secretly, either at night or in the very early morning. He was a successful farmer (born in Connecticut), of a Yankee shrewdness and industry. He recognized that in order to get a crop of wheat, it was necessary to do something more than trust in the Lord. But in administering the affairs of the Church, he seemed to have no such sophistication.
I can see him yet, at the meetings of the Presidency, opening his mild blue eyes in surprised horror at a report of some new danger threatening us. "My conscience! My conscience!" he would cry. "Is that so, brother!" When he was assured that it was so, he would say, resignedly: "The Lord will look after us!" And then, after a silence, turning to his First Councilor, he would ask: "What do you think we ought to do, Brother George Q.?"
The Second Councilor, Joseph F. Smith, sat at these meetings, in a saturnine reserve and silence, either nursing his concealed thought or having none. When a decision had been suggested, he was appealed to and added his assent. It always seemed to me that he was sulkily sleepy; but this impression may have come from the contrast of the First Councilor's mental alertness and the bright cheerfulness of the President - who never, to my knowledge, showed the slightest bitterness against anybody. President Woodruff believed that all the persecutions of the Mormons were due to the Devil's envy of the Lord's power as it showed itself in the establishment of the Mormon Church: and he assumed that the Gentiles did the work they were tempted to do against us, because the Holy Spirit had not yet ousted the evil from their souls. He had no fear of the ultimate triumph of the Church, because he had no fear of the ultimate triumph of God. Whenever he could escape for a day from the worldly duties of his office, he went fishing!
When the progress of the Cullom-Struble bill began to make its threatening advance, my father went secretly to Washington; and a short time afterwards, word came to me in Ogden, through the Presidency, that he wished me to arrange my business affairs for a long absence from Utah, and follow him to the capital.
I found him there, in the office of Delegate John T. Caine of Utah - the cluttered office of a busy man - and he explained, composedly, why he had sent for me. The Cullom-Struble bill had been favorably considered by the Senate Committee on Territories, and the disfranchisement of all the Mormons of Utah seemed imminent. Every argument, political or legal, had been used against the measure, in vain. Since I, a non-polygamous Mormon, would be disfranchised if the bill became law, he thought I might be a good advocate against it. He said: "I have not appeared in the matter. None of our friends know that I am here. If it were known, it might only increase our difficulties. Say nothing of it. We have been at a disadvantage with a Republican administration because most of our prominent men are Democrats. You were so effective with the Democrats, let us see what you can do now with your own party friends."
After taking his advice, I went to see Senator Henry M. Teller, of Colorado, who was a friend of my father and of the Mormon people. He admitted that the situation was desperate. He proposed that I should speak before the committees of both houses; they might listen to me as a Republican who had no official rank in the Church and no political authority. He offered to introduce me to any of the Senators and members of Congress, but advised that I should rather go unintroduced, without influence, and make my appeal as a private citizen.
This sounded to me depressingly like the call to lead a "forlorn hope." I reported to my father again, and was not altogether reassured by a tranquility which he seemed to be able to maintain in the face of any desperation. Other agencies of the Church had reached the end of their resources. There was no help in sight. And I went, at last, to throw our case upon the mercy of the Secretary of State, Mr. James G. Blaine, my father's friend, the friend of our people, the statesman whom I - in common with millions of other Americans - regarded with a reverence that approached idolatry.
He received me in the long room of the Secretary's apartments, standing, a striking figure in black, against the rich and heavy background of the official furnishing. He was very pale - unhealthily so - perhaps with the progress of the disease of which he was to die in so short a time. In contrast with his usual brilliancy of mind, he seemed to me, at first, depressed and quiet - with a kindly serenity of manner, at once gracious, and intimate, but masterful.
He was instantly and deeply interested in what I had to say; he seated himself - on a sofa, near the embrasure of a window - motioned me to bring a chair to his side, and heard me in an erect attitude of thoughtful attention, re-assuring me now and then by reaching out to lay a hand on my knee when he saw from my hesitancy that I feared I might be too candid in my confidences; and the look of his eye and the touch of his hand were as if he said: "I'm your friend. Anything you may say is perfectly safe with me."
I told him of my father's imprisonment.
It is dreadful," he said. "You shock me to the soul." He spoke of their friendship, of his admiration for my father's work in Congress, of his personal regard for the man himself. "Of course," he said, "I have no sympathy with your peculiar marriage system, and I'll never be able to understand how a man like your father could enter it." I reminded him that my father believed it a system revealed and ordained by God. "I know," he replied. "That is what they say. And I suppose they have scriptural warrant for polygamy. But it is a thing that would be 'more honored in the breach than the observance.' Tell me, is the rule of the Church absolute over you younger men?"
I told him that it was, in respect of political control; that the situation in Utah had placed us where there was no possibility of compromise; that we must be of, with, and for our own people, or against them.
He asked me whether I intended to address myself to the President. I replied, "Not yet" - since the bills were still pending in Congress and were not being urged from the White House. He seemed pleased. As I afterwards learned, there was a strong rivalry between the President and the Secretary of State; and though I knew that Mr. Blaine's interest in Utah was almost wholly one of responsible statesmanship, warmed by a personal kindliness for our people, still it remains a fact that he expected the support of the Utah Republican delegation in the convention of 1892, and that it had been promised him by national Republicans who were now laboring at Washington in our behalf.
He encouraged me with an almost intimate emotion of pity and friendliness; and I felt the largeness of the man as much in the warmth of his humanity as in the breadth of his view. He approved, of my appearing before the committees. "Go and tell them your own story, yourself," he said. "Make your plea independently of all the formal and official arguments that have been used. These have been exhausted. They have been ineffective. We must use the personal and "- he added it significantly -" the political appeal. If you find difficulty, let me know. I shall not be idle in your behalf. If you meet any insuperable obstacle, I'll see if I can't help you run over it."
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 accompanied me toward the door, giving me friendly messages of regard to deliver to my father. He put his arm around my shoulders, at last, and said: "You may tell your father for me - as I tell you, young man - you shall not be harmed, this time."
I parted from him with an almost speechless relief and gratitude, and hurried to my father with the news of hope. I had not told Mr. Blaine that he was in Washington; for, without feeling that he saw himself marked by his imprisonment, I was aware that his friends might pity him for it, if they did not condemn him; and neither sentiment (I knew) was he of the personal temper to encounter.
I told him every detail of my talk with the Secretary of State; he heard me, silently, meditatively. When I concluded with Mr. Blaine's assurance that we should not be harmed "this time," but must "get into line," he looked up at me with a significant steadiness of eye. "President Woodruff," he said, "has been praying . . . . He thinks he sees some light . . . . You are authorized to say that something will be done."
I asked no question. His gaze conveyed assurance, but forbade inquiry. I had to understand, without being told, that the Church was preparing to concede a recession from the doctrine of polygamy.
With this assurance to aid me, I began the work of reaching the committees - warm work in a Washington summer, but hopeful in the new prospect of a lasting success. The bill for disfranchisement had been reported out by the committees and was on the calendar for passage. It was necessary to have the question reopened before the committees for argument. In soliciting the opportunity of a re-hearing, from the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Orville H. Platt, of Connecticut, I made my argument in a private conversation with him in his rooms in the Arlington Hotel. When I had done, he chewed his cigar a moment, looked at me quizzically, and asked: "Do you know Abbot R. Heywood, of Ogden?" - and, as he asked it, he drew a letter from his pocket.
I replied that I knew Mr. Heywood well.
"I have a letter here from him, on this same subject," he said. "Tell me. What kind of man is he? And to what extent do you think I ought to depend on his views?"
I was never more tempted in my life to tell a lie. I knew Mr. Heywood to be a man of truth and high ideals; but he had been Chairman of the Anti-Church party in Weber County, and he had been one of the Gentile leaders for several years. I knew the intensity of his feelings against the rule of the Church in politics and the Mormon attitude of defiance to the law. I was sure that he would be strong in his demand for the passage of the disfranchisement act.
I hesitated a moment. Senator Platt was watching me. Then, with a resolve that our cause must stand or fall by the truth, I said: "Mr. Heywood is a man of integrity. I think he would write exactly what he believed to be true. But you know, Senator, intense feeling in politics sometimes sways a man's judgment. In view of Mr. Heywood's long controversy, I hope that if he has taken a view adverse to mine, his antagonism may be mitigated in your mind by your own knowledge of human feelings."
Senator Platt held out the letter to me. "You've won your motion for a re-hearing," he said. "I think we may be able to get the truth out of you. We have not always had it in this Utah question. Read that."
I read it. It was Mr. Heywood's solemn protest, as an American citizen - on behalf of himself and the other members of the perfunctory Republican Committee of his County - against the wholesale disfranchisement of the Mormons, on the ground that it would only delay a progressive American settlement of the territory!
Then I went to the other members of the Senate committee privately, and told them that the Mormon Church was about to make a concession concerning its doctrine of polygamy. I told them so in confidence, pointing out the necessity of secrecy, since to make public the news of such a recession, in advance, would be to prevent the Church from authorizing it. Not one of the Senators betrayed the trust. I was less confidential with the members of the House Committee, because I realized that nothing could be done against us unless the bill passed the Senate. But I gave the news of the Church's reconsideration of its attitude to Colonel G. W. R. Dorsey, the member from Nebraska, and he used his influence to get me a rehearing from the House Committee. Finally I appeared once before each committee, and argued our case at length. The bills did not become law. Aided by Mr. Blaine's powerful friendship, we were saved "for the time."
It remained to make our safety permanent, and I took train for Utah, on my father's counsel, to see President Woodruff. I had given my word that "something was to be done." I went to plead that it should be done - and done speedily.