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Chapter XIV

Treason Triumphant

While these disclosures of the Smoot investigation were shocking the sentiment of the whole nation, the Prophets carried on the conspiracy of their defense with all the boldness of defiant guilt. In Salt Lake City, the office of the United States Marshal and even the post-office were watched for the arrival of subpoenas from Washington; men were posted in the streets to give the alarm whenever the Marshal should attempt to serve papers; and before he entered the front door of a Mormon's house, the Church sentry had entered by the back door to warn the inmates. If the Federal power had been moving in a foreign land, it could not have been more determinedly opposed by local authority. Notorious polygamists, wanted as witnesses before the Senate committee, made a public flight through Utah, couriered, flanked and rear-guarded by the power of the hierarchy. One of these law-breakers (who, it was known, had been subpoenaed) went from Salt Lake City to take secret employment in one of the Church's sugar factories in Idaho. When he was discovered there and served with the Senate requisition, he gave his word that he would appear at Washington, and then he fled with his new polygamous wife to a polygamous Mormon settlement in Alberta, Canada - a fugitive, honored because he was a fugitive, and officially sustained as a ward of the Church.

Apostles John W. Taylor and Mathias F. Cowley left the country, to escape a summons to Washington; and President Smith pleaded that he had no control over their movements, and promised that he would, if possible, bring them back to comply with the Senate subpoenas. He knew, as every Mormon and every well-informed Gentile knew, that the slightest expression of a wish from him would be the word of God to those two men. They would have gloried in going to Washington to show the courage of their fanaticism. They would never have left the country without instructions from their President. But they could not have married plural wives after the manifesto, and solemnized plural marriages for other polygamists, without Smith's knowledge and consent; their testimony would have placed the responsibility for these unlawful practices upon the Prophet; and the penalty would have fallen on the Prophet's Senator.

They not only fled, but they allowed themselves in their absence to be made the scapegoats of the hierarchy. They were proven guilty of "new polygamy" before the Senate committee; and, for the sake of the effect upon the country, they were ostensibly deposed from the apostolate by order of the President, who, by their dismissal from the quorum, advanced his son Hyrum in seniority. But their apparent degradation involved none of the consequences that Moses Thatcher had suffered. They continued their ministrations in the Church. They remained high in favor with the hierarchy. They claimed and received from the faithful the right to be regarded as holily "the Lord's' anointed" as they had ever been. They still held their Melchisedec priesthood. One of them afterward took a new plural wife. It seems to be well authenticated that the other continued to perform plural marriages; and every Mormon looked upon them both - and still looks upon them - as zealous priests who endured the appearance of shame in order to preserve the power of the Prophet in governing the nation.

Another crucial point in President Smith's responsibility was his solemnization of the plural marriage between Apostle Abraham H. Cannon and Lillian Hamlin, of which I have already written. One of the women of the dead apostle's family was subpoenaed to give her testimony in the matter. She thrice telephoned to me that she wished to consult me; but she was surrounded by such a system of espionage that again and again she failed to keep her appointment. At last, late at night, she arrived at my office - the editorial office of the Salt Lake Tribune - having escaped, as she explained, in her maid's clothes. The agents of the hierarchy had been subtly and ingeniously suggesting to her that she was perhaps mistaken in her recollection of the facts to which she would have to testify, and she was distressed with the doubt and fear which they had instilled into her mind. I could only adjure her to tell the truth as she remembered it. But on her journey to Washington she was constantly surrounded by Church "advisers;" and the effect of their "advice" showed in the testimony that she gave - a testimony that failed to prove the known guilt of the Prophet.

For the Gentiles, there had begun a sort of "reign of terror," which can be best summed up by an account of a private conference of twelve prominent non-Mormons held as late as 1905. That conference was called to consider the situation, and to devise means of acquainting the nation with the desperate state of affairs in Utah. It was independent of the political movement that had already begun; it aimed rather to organize a social rebellion, so that we might not be dependent for all our opposition upon the annual or semi-annual campaigns of politics.

The meeting first agreed upon the following statement of facts:

"Utah's statehood, as now administered, is but a protection of the Mormon hierarchy in its establishment of a theocratic kingdom under the flag of the republic. This hierarchy holds itself superior to the Constitution and to the law. It is spreading polygamy throughout the ranks of its followers. Through its agents, it dominates the politics of the state, and its power is spreading to other common-wealths. It exerts such sway over the officers of the law that the hierarchy and its favorites cannot be reached by the hand of justice. It is master of the State Legislature and of the Governor.

"By means of its immense collection of tithes and its large investments in commercial and financial enterprises, it dominates every line of business in Utah except mines and railroads; and these latter it influences by means of its control over Mormon labor and by its control of legislation and franchises. It holds nearly every Gentile merchant and professional man at its vengeance, by its influence over the patronage which he must have in order to be successful. It corrupts every Gentile who is affected by either fear or venality, and makes of him a part of its power to play the autocrat in Utah and to deceive the country as to its purposes and its operations. Every Gentile who refuses to testify at its request and in its behalf becomes a marked and endangered man. It rewards and it punishes according to its will; and those Gentiles who have gone to Washington to testify for Smoot are well aware of this fact. Unless the Gentiles of Utah shall soon be protected by the power of the United States they will suffer either ruin or exile at the hands of the hierarchy."

When this declaration had been accepted, by all present, as truly expressing their views of the situation, it was decided that they should confer with other leading Gentiles, hold a mass meeting, adopt a set of resolutions embodying the declaration on which they had agreed, and then dispatch the resolutions to the Senate committee, as a protest against the testimony of some of the Gentiles in the Smoot case, and as an appeal to the nation for help.

But although all approved of the declaration and all approved of the method by which it was to be sent to the nation, no man there dared to stand out publicly in support of such a protest, to offer the resolutions, or to speak for them. The merchant knew that his trade would vanish in a night, leaving him unable to meet his obligations and certain of financial destruction. The lawyer knew not only that the hierarchy would deprive him of all his Mormon clients, but that it would make him so unpopular with courts and juries that no Gentile litigant would dare employ him. The mining man knew that the hierarchy could direct legislation against him, might possibly influence courts and could assuredly influence jurors to destroy him. And so with all the others at the conference.

They were not cowards. They had shown themselves, in the past, of more than average human courage, loyalty and ability. All recognized that if the power of the hierarchy were not soon met and broken it would grow too great to be resisted - that another generation would find itself hopelessly enslaved. Every father felt that the liberties of his children were at stake; that they would be bond or free by the issue of the conflict then in course at Washington. And yet not one dared to throw down the gauntlet to tyranny - to devote himself to certain ruin. They had to prefer simple slavery to beggary and slavery combined. They had to hope silently that the power of the nation would intervene. They could work only secretly for the fulfillment of that hope.

At first, in President Roosevelt they saw the promise of their salvation. He had opposed the election of Apostle Smoot. When the report of the apostle's candidacy had first reached Washington, the President had summoned to the White House Senator Thomas Kearns of Utah and Senator Mark Hanna, who was chairman of the National Republican committee; and to these two men he had declared his opposition to the candidacy of a Mormon apostle as a Republican aspirant for a Senatorship. At his request Senator Hanna, as chairman of the party, signed a letter of remonstrance to the party chiefs in Utah, and President Roosevelt, at a later conference, gave this letter to Senator Kearns to be communicated to the state leaders. Senator Kearns transmitted the message, and by so doing he "dug his political grave" as the Mormon stake president, Lewis W. Shurtliff, expressed it.

Colonel C. B. Loose of Provo went to Washington on behalf of the Church authorities. He was a Gentile, a partner of Apostle Smoot and of some of the other Mormon leaders in business undertakings, a wealthy mining man, a prominent Republican. It was reported in Utah that his arguments for Smoot carried some weight in Washington. President Roosevelt was to be a candidate for election; and the old guard of the Republican party, distrustful of the Roosevelt progressive policies, was gathering for a grim stand around Senator Mark Hanna. Both factions were playing for votes in the approaching national convention. I have it on the authority of a Mormon ecclesiast, who was in the political confidence of the Church leaders, that President Roosevelt was promised the votes of the Utah delegation and such other convention votes as the Church politicians could control. The death of Senator Hanna made this promise unnecessary, if there ever was an explicit promise. But this much is certain. President Roosevelt's opposition to Apostle Smoot, for whatever reason, changed to favor.

The character and impulses of the President were of a sort to make him peculiarly susceptible to an appeal for help on the part of the Mormons. He had lived in the West. He knew something of the hardships attendant upon conquering the waste places. He sympathized with those who dared, for their own opinions, to oppose the opinions of the rest of the world. He had received the most adulating assurances of support for his candidacies and his policies. It would have required a man of the calmest discrimination and coolest judgment to find the line between any just claim for mercy presented by the Mormon advocates of "religious liberty" and the willful offenses which they were committing against the national integrity.

I have received it personally, from the lips of more than one member of the Senate committee, that never in all their experience with public questions was such executive pressure brought to bear upon them as was urged from the White House, at this time, for the protection of Apostle Smoot's seat in the Senate. The President's most intimate friends on the committee voted with the minority to seat Smoot. One of the President's closest adherents, Senator Dolliver, after having signed a majority report to exclude Smoot and having been re-elected, in the meantime, by his own State legislature, to another term in the Senate - afterwards spoke and voted against the report which he had signed. Senator A. J. Hopkins of Illinois, who had supported Smoot consistently, found himself bitterly attacked, in his campaign for reelection, because of his record in the Smoot case, and he published in his defense a letter from President Roosevelt that read: "Just a line to congratulate you upon the Smoot case. It is not my business, but it is a pleasure to see a public servant show, under trying circumstances, the courage, ability and sense of right that you have shown."

After the outrageous exposures of the violations of law, the treason and the criminal indifference to human rights shown by the rulers of the Church, if an early vote had been taken by the committee and by the Senate itself, the antagonism of the nation would have forced the exclusion of the Apostle from the upper House. Delay was his salvation. More to the President's influence than to any other cause is the delay attributable that prolonged the case through a term of three years. During that time the unfortunate Gentiles of Utah learned that, instead of receiving help from the President, they were to have only the most insuperable opposition. They believed that the President was being grossly misled; that it was, of course, impossible for him to read all the testimony given before the Senate committee, and that the matters that reached him were being tinged with other purpose than the vindication of truth and justice. But it was impossible to obtain the opportunity of setting him right. Even the women who were leading the national protest against the polygamous teaching and practices of Smoot's fellow apostles were told that the President had made up his mind and could not be re-convinced.

The Mormon appeal to his generosity was not confined to Washington. On his travels he met President Smith more than once - the Prophet being accompanied by a different wife each time - and naturally Smith made every effort to impress President Roosevelt with his earnestness, the purity of his life, and the high motives that actuated the exercise of his authority. And at this sort of pretense the Lord's anointed are expert. They themselves may be crude in ideas and coarse in method, but their diplomacy is a growth of eighty years of applied devotion and energy.

The American people are used to meeting prominent Mormons who are models of demeanor who are hearty of manner; who carry a kindly light in their eyes; who have a spontaneity that precludes hypocrisy or even deep purpose. These are not the men who make the Church diplomacy - they simply obey it. It is part of that diplomacy to send out such men for contact with the world. But the ablest minds of the Church, whether they are of the hierarchy or not, construct its policies. And given a system whose human units move instantly and unquestioningly at command; given a system whose worldly power is available at any point at any moment; given a system whose movement may be as secret as the grave until result is attained - and the clumsiest of politicians or the crudest of diplomats has a force to effect his ends that is as powerful for its size as any that Christendom has ever known.

Among the emissaries of the Church who were deputed to "reach" President Roosevelt, was our old friend Ben Rich, the gay, the engaging, the apparently irresponsible agent of hierarchical diplomacy. And I should like to relate the story of his "approach," as it is still related in the inner circle of Church confidences. Not that I expect it to be wholly credited - not that I doubt but it will be denied on all sides - but because it is so characteristic of Church gossip and so typical (even if it were untrue) of the humorous cynicism of Church diplomacy.

When President Roosevelt was making his "swing around the circle," Rich was appointed to join him, found the opportunity to do so, and (so the story is told) delighted the President by the spirit and candor of his good-fellowship. When they were about to part, the President is reported to have said, "Why don't you run for Congress from your state? You're just the kind of man I'd like to have in the House to support my policies." And here (as the Mormons are told) is the dialogue that ensued:

Rich: "I have no ambition that way, Mr. President. For many reasons it's out of the question although I'm grateful for the flattering suggestion."

The President: "Then let me appoint you to some good office. You're the kind of man I'd like to have in my official family."

Rich (impressively and in a low tone): "Mr. President, I'd count it the greatest honor of my life to have a commission from you to any office. I'd hand that commission down to my children as the most precious heritage. But - I love you too much, Mr. President, to put you in any such hole. I'm a polygamist. It would injure you before the whole country."

The President (leaning forward eagerly): "No! Are you a polygamist? Tell me all about it."

Rich: "The Lord has bestowed that blessing on me. I wish you could go into my home and see how my wives are living together like sisters - how tender they are to each other - how they bear each other's burdens and share each other's sorrows - and how fond all my children are of Mother and Auntie."

The President: "Well - but how can women agree to share a husband?"

Rich: "They do it in obedience to a revelation from the Lord - a revelation that proclaimed the doctrine of the eternity and the plurality of the marriage covenant. We believe that men and women, sealed in this life under proper authority, are united in the conjugal relation throughout eternity. We believe that the husband is tied to his wives, and they to him; that their children and all the generations of their children will belong to him hereafter. We believe in eternal progression; that as man is, God was; and as God is, man shall be. We believe that by obedience to this revealed covenant, we will be exalted in the celestial realm of our Father, with power in ourselves to create and people worlds. It is a never ending and constantly increasing intelligence and labor. If I keep my covenants to my wives and they to me, in this world, all the powers and rights of our marriage relation will be continued and amplified to us in the life to come; and we, in our turn, will be rulers over worlds and universes of worlds."

Then - according to the unctuous gossip of the devout - President Roosevelt saw the true answer to his own desire to know what was to become of his mighty personality after this world should have fallen away from him! He saw, in this faith, a possible continuation throughout eternity of the tremendous energies of his being! He was to continue to rule not merely a nation but a world, a system of worlds, a universe of worlds! And it is told - sometimes solemnly, sometimes with a grin - that, in the Temple at Salt Lake, a proxy has stood for him and he has been baptized into the Mormon Church; that proxies have stood for the members of his family and that they have been sealed to him; and finally that proxies have stood for some of the great queens of the past (who had not already been sealed to Mormon leaders) and that they have been sealed to the President for eternity[7]!

This may sound blasphemous toward Theodore Roosevelt - if not toward the Almighty - but it is told, and it is believed, by hundreds and thousands of the faithful among the Mormon people. It is given to them as the secret explanation of President Roosevelt's protection of the Mormon tyranny - a protection of which Apostle Hyrum Smith boasted in a sermon in the Salt Lake tabernacle (April 5, 1905) in these equivocal words: "We believe - and I want to say this - that in President Roosevelt we have a friend, and we believe that in the Latter-Day Saints President Roosevelt has the greatest friendship among them; and there are no people in the world who are more friendly to him, and will remain friendly unto him just so long as he remains true, as he has been, to the cause of humanity."

The Smiths have their own idea of what "the cause of humanity" is.

[7] It is a not uncommon practice in the Mormon Church thus to "do a work" for a Gentile who has befriended the people or otherwise won the gratitude of the Church authorities.

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