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The Goal - And After
Here we were then (as I saw the situation) assured of our statehood, rid of polygamy, relieved of religious control in politics, and free to devote our energies to the development of the land and the industries and the business of the community. The persecutions that our people had borne had schooled them to co-operation. They were ready, helping one another, to advance together to a common prosperity. They were under the leadership chiefly of the man who had guided them out of a most desperate condition of oppression toward the freedom of sovereign self-government. In that progress he had saved everything that was worthy in the Mormon communism; he had discarded much that was a curse. I knew that he had no thought but for the welfare of the people; and with such a man, leading such a following, we seemed certain of a future that should be an example to the world.
But both the Church and the people had been involved in debt by confiscation and proscription; and it was necessary now to free ourselves financially. This work my father undertook in behalf of the Presidency - for the President of the Mormon Church is not only the Prophet, Seer and Revelator of God to the faithful; he is also "the trustee in trust" of all the Church's material property. He is the controller, almost the owner, of everything it owns. He is as sacred in his financial as in his religious absolutism. He is accountable to no one, The Church auditors, whom he appoints, concern themselves merely with the details of bookkeeping. The millions of dollars that are paid to him, by the people in tithes, are used by him as he sees fit to use them; and the annual contributors to this "common fund" would no more question his administration of it than they would question the ways of divinity.
In the early days there had been a strongly animating idea that among the divinely-authorized duties of leadership was the obligation to develop the natural resources of the country in order to meet the people's needs. As the immigrants poured into Utah, these needs increased; and the Church leaders used the Church funds to develop coal and iron mines, support salt gardens, build a railway, establish a sugar factory (for which the people, through the legislature, voted a bounty), conduct a beach resort, and aid a hundred other enterprises that promised to be for the public good. These undertakings were not financed for profit. They were semi-socialistic in their establishment and half-benevolent in their administration.
But during "the days of the raid" they were neglected, because the Church was involved in debt. And now it became pressingly necessary to obtain money to restore the moribund industries and to meet the payments that were continually falling due upon loans made to the Presidency. President Woodruff called on me to aid in the work. So I came into touch with a development of events that did not seem to me, then, of any great importance; yet it drew as its consequence a connection between the Mormon Church and the great financial "interests" of the East - a connection that is one of the strong determining causes of the perversion of government and denial of political liberty in Utah today.
I wish, here, simply to foreshadow, this connection. It will reappear in the story again and again; and it is necessary to have the significance of the recurrence understood in advance. But, at the time of which I write, there was no more than an innocent approach on our part to Eastern financiers to obtain money for the Church and to concentrate our debts in the hands of two or three New York banks.
For example, the Church had loaned to, or endorsed for, the Utah Sugar Company to the amount of $325,000; and my father had personally endorsed the general obligations for this and other sums, although he owned only $5,000 of the company's stock. He supported the factory with his personal credit and assumed the risk of loss (without any corresponding possibility of gain) in order to benefit the whole people by encouraging the beet sugar industry. A vain attempt had been made to sell the bonds in New York. Finally, the Church bought all the bonds of the company for $325,000 (of a face value of $400,000), and we sold them, for the Church, to Mr. Joseph Bannigan, the "rubber king," of Providence, Rhode Island, for $360,000, with the guarantee of the First Presidency, the trustee of the Church, and myself.
Similarly, the First Presidency led in building an electric power plant in Ogden, after Chas. K. Bannister, a great engineer, and myself had persuaded the members of the Presidency that the work would benefit the community. The bonds of this company, too, were bought by Mr. Bannigan, with the guarantee of the trustee of the Church, the Presidency and myself. Both the power plant and the sugar factory were financially successful. They performed a large public service beneficently. The fact that Mr. Bannigan held their bonds was no detriment to their work and wrought no injury to the people.
I single out these two enterprises because Joseph F. Smith has since sold the power plant to the "Harriman interests," and the control of the sugar factory to the sugar trust; and he has explained that in making the sales he merely followed my father's example and mine in selling the bonds to Mr. Bannigan. The power plant is now a part of the merger called the Utah Light and Railway Company, which has a monopoly right in all the streets of Salt Lake City and its suburbs, besides owning the electric power and light plants of Salt Lake City and Ogden, the gas plants of both these cities, and the natural gas wells and pipe lines supplying them. The Mormon people whose tithes aided these properties - whose good-will maintained them - whose leaders designed them as a community work for a community benefit - these people are now being mercilessly exploited by the Eastern "interests" to whom the Prophet of the Church has sold them bodily. The difference between selling the bonds of the sugar company to Bannigan, in order to raise money to support the factory, and selling half the stock to the sugar trust, in order to make a monopoly profit out of the Mormon consumers of sugar, has either not occurred to Smith or has been divinely waived by him.
However, this is by the way and in advance of my story. In 1894 we had no more fear of the Eastern money power than we had of the return of the Church to politics or to polygamy. Throughout 1893 and 1894 I was engaged in the work of re-establishing the Church's business affairs with my father and a sort of finance committee of which the other two members were Colonel N. W. Clayton, of Salt Lake City, and Mr. James Jack, the cashier of the Church. In the summer of 1894 I heard various rumors that when Utah should gain its statehood, my father would probably be a candidate for the United States Senate. Since this would be a palpable breach of the Church's agreement to keep out of politics, I took occasion - one day, on a railroad journey - to ask him if he intended to be a candidate.
He told me that he was being urged to stand for the Senatorship, but that for his part he had no desire to do so; and he asked me what I thought about it. I replied that if I had felt it was right for him to take the office and he desired it, I would walk barefoot across the continent to aid him. But I reminded him of the pledges which he and I had made repeatedly - on our own behalf, in the name of his associates in leadership, and on the honor of the Mormon people - to subdue thereafter the causes of the controversy that had divided Mormon and Gentile in Utah. He replied with an emphatic assurance of his purpose to keep those pledges, and dismissed the subject with a finality that left no doubt in my mind.
I know that he might have desired the Senatorship as a public vindication, since, in the old days of quarrel, he had been legislated out of his place in the House of Representatives; and, for the first and only time in my life, I undertook to philosophize some comfort for him - out of the fact that to the position of authority which he held in Utah a Senatorship was a descent. He replied dryly: "I understand, my son - perfectly." The fact was that he needed no comfort from me or any other human being. He seemed all - sufficient to himself, because of the abiding sense he had of the constant presence of God and his habit of communing with that Spirit, instead of seeking human intercourse or earthly counsel. He did not need my affection. He did not need, much less seek, the approbation of any man. In the events to which this conversation was a prelude, he acted without explaining himself to me or to anyone else, and apparently without caring in the slightest what my opinion or any other man's might be of his course or of the motives that prompted it.
Some months later, in the office of the Presidency (at a business meeting with him, Colonel Clayton and Joseph F. Smith), I excused myself from attending any further sittings of the committee for that day, because I had to go to Provo to receive the Republican nomination for Congress.
My father said: "I am sorry to hear it. I thought Judge Zane - or someone else would be nominated. I wished you to be free to help with these business matters. Why have you not consulted us?"
I reminded him that I had told him, some weeks before, that I expected to be nominated for Congress this year - and that I was practically certain, if elected, of going to the Senate when we were granted statehood. "I talked with you, then, as my father," I said. "But I'm sure you'll remember that I have not consulted you as a leader of the Church, or any of your colleagues as leaders of the Church, on the subject of partisan politics since the People's Party was dissolved."
He accepted this mild declaration of political independence without protest, and I went to Provo, happily, a free man. The Republicans nominated me by acclamation, and the chairman of the committee that came to offer me the nomination was Colonel Wm. Nelson, then managing editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, a Gentile, a former leader of the Liberal Party, an opponent of Mormonism as practiced, who had fought the Church hierarchy for years. Here was a new evidence that we were now beyond the old quarrels - a further guarantee that we were prepared to take our place among the states of the Union, free of parochialism and its sectarian enmities.
The campaign gave every proof of such political emancipation. The people divided, on national party lines, as completely as any American community in my experience. The Democrats, having nominated Joseph L. Rawlins, had the prestige that he had gained in helping to pass the Enabling Act; a Democratic administration was in power in Washington; Apostle Moses Thatcher, Brigham H. Roberts, and other members of the Church inspired the old loyalty of the Mormons for the Democracy. But the Republicans had been re-enforced by the dissolution of the Liberal Party, whose last preceding candidate (Mr. Clarence E. Allen) went on the stump for us. The Smith jealousy of Moses Thatcher divided the Church influence; and though charges of ecclesiastical interference were made on both sides, such interference was personal rather than official. Mr. Rawlins was defeated, and I was elected delegate in Congress from the territory - with the United States Senatorship practically assured to me.
In the spring of 1895 the constitutional convention at Salt Lake City formulated a provisional constitution for the new Utah; and, in the Fall of the year, a general election was held to adopt this constitution and to elect officers who should enter upon their duties as soon as Utah became a state. The election was marked by a most significant and important incident.
The Democrats, in their convention, nominated for Congress, Brigham H. Roberts, one of the first seven "presidents of the seventy," and for the United States Senate, Joseph L. Rawlins and Apostle Moses Thatcher. Immediately, at a priesthood meeting of the hierarchy, Joseph F. Smith denounced the candidacies of Roberts and Thatcher; and the grounds for the denunciation were subsequently stated in the "political manifesto" of April, 1896, in which the First Presidency announced, as a rule of the Church, that no official of the Church should accept a political nomination until he had obtained the permission of the Church authorities and had learned from them whether he could "consistently with the obligations already entered into with the Church, take upon himself the added duties and labors and responsibilities of the new position."
This action, I knew, was the result of the old jealousy of Thatcher which the Smiths had so long nursed. But it was also in line with the Church's pledge, to keep its leaders out of politics. By it, the hierarchy bound themselves and set the people free. The leaders, thereafter, according to their own "manifesto," could not enter politics without the consent of their quorums; and, therefore, by any American doctrine, they could not enter politics at all. Thatcher and Roberts revolted against the inhibition as an infringement of their rights as citizens, and it was so construed by the whole Democratic party; but everyone knew that a Mormon apostle had no rights as a citizen that were not second to his Church allegiance, and the political manifesto simply made public the fact of such subservience, authoritatively. We Republicans welcomed it, with our eyes on the future freedom of politics in Utah; Thatcher and Roberts refused to accept the dictation of their quorums, and what was practically an "edict of apostasy" went out against them. They were defeated. The Republican candidates (Heber M. Wells, as governor, and Clarence B. Allen, as member of Congress) were elected. Thatcher, subsequently refusing to accept the "political manifesto," was deposed from his apostolic authority, and deprived of all priesthood in the Church. Roberts recanted and was reconciled with the hierarchy.
The Republicans elected forty-three out of sixty-three members of the legislature, and everyone of these had been pledged to support me, for the United States Senate, either by his convention, or by letter to me, or by a promise conveyed to me by friends; and none of these pledges had I solicited.
The rumors of my father's candidacy now became more general - although he was a Democrat, although the new "political manifesto" bound him, although it was doubtful whether the Senate would allow him to be seated. Two influences were urging his election. One was the desire of the Smith faction to have the First Councilor break the ice at Washington for Apostle John Henry Smith, who was ambitious to be a Senator and was disqualified by the fact that he was a Church leader and a polygamist. The other was the desire of some Eastern capitalists to have my father's vote in the Senate to aid them in the promotion of a railroad from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. A preliminary agreement for the construction of the road had already been signed by men who represented that they had close affiliations with large steel interests in the East, as one party, and my father as business representative of a group of associates, including the Presidency of the Church. The Church's interest in the project was communistic, and so was my father's. But his vote and influence in the Senate would be valuable to the promotion of the undertaking, and he had received written assurances from Republican leaders, senators and politicians, that if he were elected he would be allowed his seat.
As a result of our Republican success in the two political campaigns that had just ended, I felt that I represented the independent votes of both Mormons and Gentiles; and I decided to confront the First Presidency (as such a representative) and try to make them declare themselves in the matter of my father's candidacy. Not that I thought his candidacy would be so vitally important for I did not then believe the Church authorities had power to sway the legislature away from its pledges. But every day, at home or abroad, I was being asked: "Are you sure that the Church's retirement from politics is sincere?" My friends were accepting my word, and I wished to add certainty to assurance that the Church leaders intended to fulfill the covenant of their personal honor and respect the constitution of the state by keeping out of politics.
Without letting them know why I wished to see them, I procured an appointment for the interview. When we were all seated at the table I explained: "I'm going to Washington to attend to my duties as delegate in Congress. Before I return, Utah will be admitted to statehood, and the legislature will have to elect two United States Senators. As you all know, I've been a candidate for one of these places. It has been assured to me by the probably unanimous vote of the Republican caucus when it shall convene." I laid my clenched hand on the table, knuckles down, with a calculated abruptness. "The first senatorship from Utah is there," I said. If it's to be disturbed by any ecclesiastical direction, I want to know it now, so that the men who are supporting me may be aware of what they must encounter if they persist in their support. I ask you, as the Presidency of the Church: what are you going to do about the Senatorship?" And I opened my hand and left it lying open before them, for their decision.
It was evident enough, from their expressions, that this was a degree of boldness to which they were unaccustomed. It was, evident also that they were unprepared to reply to me. My father remained silent, with his usual placidity, waiting for the others to fail to take the initiative. President Woodruff blinked, somewhat bewildered, looking at my hand as if the sight of its emptiness and the assumption of what it held, confused him. Joseph F. Smith, frowning, eyed it askance with a darting glance, apparently annoyed by the mute insolence of its demand for a decision which he was not prepared to make.
My father, at length, looking at me imperturbably, asked: "Are you inquiring of our personal view in this matter, Frank?"
The question contained, of course, a tacit allusion to my refusal to consult the Church leaders about politics. I answered: "No, sir. I already have your personal view. That is the only personal view I have ever asked concerning the Senatorship. And I have purposely refrained from any allusions to it of late, with you, because I wished to lay it before the Presidency, as a body, formally, in order that there might be no possible misunderstanding."
"In that case," he said, "the matter rests with President Woodruff."
The President, thus forced to an explanation, made a very characteristic one. Several of the Church's friends in the East, he said, had urged father's name for the Senatorship, but it was impossible to see how he could be spared from the affairs of the priesthood. Zion needed him - and so forth.
Apparently, to President Woodruff, the question of the Senatorship was resolvable wholly upon Church considerations. His mind was so filled with zealous hope for the advancement of "the Kingdom of God on Earth," that he seemed quite unaware of the political aspects of the case, the violation of the Church's pledge, and the difficulties in the Senate that would surely attend upon my father's election.
In the general discussion that ensued, both Joseph F. Smith and my father spoke of the appeal that had been made to them on behalf of the business interests of the community, with which the financial interests of the East were now eager to co-operate. But both followed the President's example in dismissing the possibility of the First Councilor's candidacy as infringing upon his duties in the Church. I pointed out to them that such a candidacy would be considered a breach of faith, that it would raise a storm of protest. They accepted the warning without comment, as if, having decided against the candidacy, they did not need to consider such aspects of it. I kept my hand open before them until my father said, with some trace of amusement: "You'd better take up that senatorship, Frank. I think you're entitled to it."
I took it up, satisfied that there would be no more Church interference in the matter. The decision seemed to me final and momentous. I felt that the new Utah had faced the old and had been assured of independence.
About this same time (although I cannot place it accurately in my recollection), President Woodruff, speaking from the pulpit, declared that it was the right of the priesthood of God to rule in all things on earth, and that they had in no wise relinquished any of their authority. The sermon raised a dangerous alarm in Salt Lake City, and I was immediately summoned from Ogden (by a messenger from Church headquarters) to see the proprietor and the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune - which paper, it was feared, might oppose Utah's admission to statehood, construing President Woodruff's remarks to mean that the Church's political covenants were to be broken.
I found Mr. P. H. Lannan, the proprietor of the paper, anxious, indignant and ready to denounce the Church and fight against the admission to statehood. "When I heard of that sermon," he said, "my heart went into my boots. We Gentiles have trusted everything to the promises that have been made by the leaders of the Church. If the Tribune had not supported the movement for statehood, the Gentiles would never have taken the risk. I feel like a man who has sold his brethren into slavery."
I assured him (as I was authorized to do) that President Woodruff was not speaking for our generation of the Mormon people nor for his associates in the leadership of the Church. I pleaded that it was the privilege of an old man (and President Woodruff was nearly ninety) to dream again the visions of his youth; his early life had been spent in the belief that a Kingdom of God was to be set up in the valleys of the mountains, governed by the priesthood and destined to rule all the nations of the earth; he had planted the first flag of the country over the Salt Lake Valley; he was still living in days that had passed for all but him, and cherishing hopes that he alone had not abandoned. But if the Tribune and the Gentiles would be magnanimous in this matter, they would add to the gratitude that already bound the younger generations of the Church to the fulfillment of its political promises.
Mr. Lannan responded instantly to the appeal to his generosity, and after consultation with the editor-in-chief (Judge C. C. Goodwin) and the managing editor (Colonel Wm. Nelson) the Tribune continued to trust in Mormon good faith.
I reported the result of my conference to Church headquarters. The news was received with relief and gratitude. And, in a long conversation with the authorities, I was told that it would be incumbent on us of the younger generation to see that all the Church's covenants to the nation should be scrupulously observed.
I accepted my part of the charge with a light heart, and late in November, 1895, I took train for Washington for convening of Congress. Of the incidents of my brief services as delegate I shall write nothing here, since those incidents were merely introductory to matters which I shall have to consider later. But I was greeted with a great deal of cordiality by the Republicans who credited me with having brought a state and its national representation into the Republican party, and they assured me that my own political future would be as bright as that of my native state!
President Cleveland, on January 4, 1896, proclaimed Utah a sovereign state of the Union, and its admission to statehood ended, of course, my service as a territorial delegate. I stood beside his desk in the White House to see him sign the proclamation - the same desk at which he had received me, some eight years before, when I came beseeching him to be merciful to the proscribed people whose freedom he was now announcing. Perhaps the manumission that he was granting, gave a benignity to his face. Perhaps the emotion in my own mind transfigured him to me. But I saw smiles and pathos in the ruggedness of his expression of congratulation as he said a few words of hope that Utah would fulfill every promise made, on her behalf, by her own people, and every happy expectation that had been entertained for her by her friends. His enormous rigid bulk, a little bowed now by years of service, seemed softened, as his face was, to the graciousness of clement power. He gave me the pen with which he had signed the paper, and dismissed me to some of the happiest hours of my life.
I walked out of the White House dispossessed of office, but now, at last, a citizen of the Republic. I stood on the steps of the White House, to look at the city through whose streets I had so many times wandered in a worried despair, and I saw them with an emotion I would not dare transcribe. I do not know that the sun was really shining, but in my memory the scene has taken on all the accumulated brightnesses of all the radiant days I ever knew in Washington. And I remember that I saw the Washington Monument and the Capitol with a sense of almost affectionate personal possession!
In an excited exultation I went to thank the men who had helped us in the House and the Senate - to wire jubilant messages home - to send Governor Wells the pen with which the President had signed his proclamation, and to procure from friends in the War Department the first two flags that had been made with forty-five stars - the star of Utah the forty-fifth. Wherever I went, some sinister aspect seemed to have gone out of things; and I remember that I enjoyed so much the sense of their new inhostility, that I planned to delay my return to Utah until I had made a pilgrimage to every spot in Washington where I had despaired of our future.
All this may seem almost sentimental to you, who perhaps accept your citizenship as an unregarded commonplace of natural right. But, for me, the freeing of our people was an emancipation to be compared only to the enfranchisement of the Southern slaves and greater even than that, for we had come from citizenship in the older states, and we could appreciate our deprivation, smart under our ostracism, and resent the rejection that set us apart from the rest of the nation as an inferior people unfit for equal rights.
I sat down to my dinner, that evening, with the appetite that comes from a day of fasting and emotional excitement; and I recall that I was planning a visit of self-congratulation to Arlington, for the morrow, when one of the hotel bell-boys brought me a telegram. I opened it eagerly - to enjoy the expected message of felicitation from home.
It was in cipher, and that fact gave me a pause of doubt, since the days of political mysteries and their cipher telegrams were over for us, thank God! It was signed with President Woodruff's cipher name.
I went to my room to translate it, and I did not return to my dinner. The message read: "It is the will of the Lord that your father shall be elected Senator from Utah."
I do not need to explain all the treacherous implications of that announcement. As soon as I had recovered my breath, I wired back, for such interpretation as they should choose to give: "God bless Utah. I am coming home," - and packed my trunk, for trouble.
 He was afterwards elected to the House of Representatives and was refused his seat as a polygamist.