1858 April 25 Speech by Gilbert Clements

Title

1858 April 25 Speech by Gilbert Clements

Type

Proclamations/Statements

Description

Clements speaks about patriotism, ongoing religious persecution and the freedom and personal liberty available to anyone living in Utah Territory. Despite war, bigotry and attacks from Indians and the government, Mormon settlements have thrived. He expresses apprehension and frustration with the appointment of and comments by the new governor. Includes some commentary from the congregation and a debate between Clements and Governor Cumming.

Given by

Gilbert Clements

Recorded by

G. D. Watt

Date

1858 April 25

location

Great Salt Lake City

Audience

Tabernacle

number of pages

11

Subject

Government
Politics
Indian Affairs
Military
War
Speeches

extracted text

Speech delivered by
Gilbert Clements
Tabernackle April 25th 1858.
Reported by G. D. Watt.
As a resident of this city, and a citizen of the United States, I wish to express my feelings on this important occasion. The matter which lies before us, as Citizens of this Great Republic, is of paramount importance to us: it affects our liberty-- constitutional rights as an integral part of this great nation. Not only does it affect ourselves as individuals, but our posterity unborn will be made happy or miserable by the course we pursue at the present time. We have come, fellow citizens, to a crisis when we must make up our minds whether we will tamely submit to be robbed of our rights, or stand up for them as freemen-- as men who are entitled to the enjoyment of those great inalienable privileges that have been purchased by the blood of our fathers; that were won in the midst of turmoil and scenes of battle. Shall we do this, or submit to a vassalage like that which our fathers endured previous to the glorious epoch of '76 when they struggled for the rights of independence, and dared maintain them?
As an individual, I am glad to see his excellency, Gov. Cumming this morning, which is the first time. His appearance is very prepossessing; and the remarks he has made also are very good, and have met my feelings in many respects; while in others they have given me exceedingly great pain.

How his Excellency's mind could have been influenced to labor under the erroneous impression that "certain persons" in Utah are held in `durance vile,' their liberties infringed upon so that they cannot go or come as they please, is a matter of astonishment to me; when the fact is that every man, woman and child, whose minds are capable of understanding, must know that without restriction they have had liberty to go and come as they pleased. They must know that our leaders have declared time and time again, that the kanyons were open for all to pass and repass; and those who wished to go and hadn't means for their outfit should be helped away by Govr. Young. I appeal to this vast audience if this has not been the case; (a universal cry of "yes" from the people) there has never been the least restriction exercised upon any persons as to their ingress or egress in this Territory, till a short time since when the Indian disturbances broke out which rendered all travel unsafe either east, west, north or south. Gov. Young in kindness to the few people that wanted to leave this place, and that few the miserable exception to the united wishes of this entire people -- were men who were afraid their actions would soon be made known and held up before the public gaze to be disgraced as they deserved -- even these parties our Gov. has been desirious should not depart until they could go in peace and safety without losing their lives. In October last, full liberty was given for all who wished to join the soldiers camp at Ham's Fork to depart in peace, Only one woman desired to go to join her husband who was with the Troops; and she was safely escorted thither at Gov. Young's expense in his own carriage. It is a foul libel on the character of this people to say that persons are held here by force against their wishes when our City for years has been a perfect thoroughfare of travel from the East to the west and Vice Versa.
Sir, I only express the universal feeling of this great people, when I say, that we have no desire to leave these mountains and return to the land which gave us birth. We have suffered too much in a country which disfranchised us as freemen, robbed us of our property, imbrued her hands in the blood of our best men, and banished us beyond the pale of her

civilization. (great sensation) Nine tenths of this vast audience before me would not have been here, had they been permitted to enjoy the common rights of American freemen in the land of their birth -- those rights for which their fathers bled and died (applause) We have left that land, and rent assunder the endearing ties of consanguinity. For what? Because we could not worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, and tread in the peaceful path of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness Because we would do this, we have been persecuted and driven from our homes and firesides. We purchased lands in Missouri and Illinois, opened farms, built cities, planted orchards, erected mills, constructed bridges, made roads, and have had to relinquish them all by the power of ruthless mobocracy. We have labored day and night, to show ourselves good citizens of the United States, but our good feelings to our country have been impugned, our motives misjudged, and our characters calumniated. We are martyrs to that most detestable of all human crimes, religious persecution. Through the hardships we have passed consequent upon our drivings, thousands have perished and filled an untimely grave. We cannot be blamed, therefore, in preferring these bleak and inhospitable regions for the fair and smiling landscape that was once our home. We have come among the savages of the desert and found a home which was denied us by christian (?) civilization.

It has been said by Gov. Cumming in his impressive speech which we have just had the honor of listening to, that, "the invading army" which is now upon our borders, has not come to infringe upon our liberties, but to protect us," I take a very different view of the subject: from the day that the news reached us that an "Expedition against Utah" was about starting out, that our mail was closed in order that intelligence might not reach us of their approach; the conviction was at once settled in my mind that the present administration intended neither more, nor less, than to carry on a religious crusade against this innocent and unoffending people. Every subsequent movement has only served to confirm and strengthen this conviction. But had there been any dubiety in my mind on the subject; if there had been the least ray of hope within me as to the good intentions of the Government in sending an army to this Territory, I assure you, fellow citizens, it would have vanished away by the apology of his Excellency for the presence of the "invading army" "To protect us!" It is the most miserable, mean and transparent subterfuge I ever heard in my life; and exhibits a degree of turpitude of which I would fain acquit the administration. In the name of common sense why did they not come when we were weak --when we were a mere handful in these wild and inhospitable regions, surrounded on every hand by a subtle and savage foe? We have had to leave our homes and farms time and time again to go on Indian expeditions to protect our infant settlements from the depredations of the red skin; and the general government has winked at our difficulties, thinking perhaps we would be used up by the numerous savage tribes that surround us (hear hear) and now when we have from one become a thousand, and from a few become a strong nation, and abundantly able to take care of ourselves, behold! they are filled with compassion towards us, and come along with "the Gospel according to gunpowder" to protect us. (immense applause loud cheers and other (demonstrations of approval in which Govr. Cumming cordially joined.) What sublime sympathy! What an overflowing of the "Milk of human kindness"!! It is the tenderness of the crocodiles which never sheds tears till it is about swallowing its victim!!! (continued applause)

And who, I ask, are the guardians of our liberties? Into whose kind arms are we to fall and be shielded from all "the ills that flesh is heir to"? Are they are own fellow citizen soldiers? No! they come in the form of a foreign army, officered, it is true, by American heroes; but the ranks entirely filled with aliens -- Men who have no fellow-feeling with us at all, whose daily boast was when crossing the plains that they would, on their arrival in this City, revel in every kind of licentiousness and immorality with our wives and daughters. These men would laugh at our misery, and take pleasure in the shedding of our blood. While this country has opened up new fields of comfort and competence for the industrious, virtuous, and down trodden sons of the old world, who have found it an asylum for all their woes and sorrows, and the goal of all their earthly hopes; at the same time it has been a great sewer that has received the scum of the earth, which settles by degrees in its vast reservoir-- the restless gambler, the prowling burglar, the scapegrace, and libertine, all gravitate in it. And from this floating material is the army of the United States composed; and it is no sinecure for an american officer to control such unruly elements. Shall we, therefore, as free born american citizens ever submit to have rulers forced upon us by a "Possee Commitaties" of foreign bayonets?" Loud cries, "No never.) From past experience we know too well the state of society that would soon exist here, were an army stationed in our city. In the fall of `54 Col. Steptoe's command arrived in this valley on their way to California. The season being advanced they wintered amongst us; and never did a people treat an army more kindly than we did. Many of our most respectable citizens vacated their large houses to accomodate the Troops during the winter which was unusually severe and lived in log cabins or tents. We supplied them abundantly with provisions, and their annimals with forage we got up entertainments during the long winter months to amuse them; and in return for all our kindness they filled our streets with drunkenness, and endeavored to fill our houses with crime.

As a man, I have no feelings whatever against Gov Cumming. As I remarked at the commencement of my speech, his appearance is prepossessing. He has a good open countenance, that marks a straightforward honorable man; (laughter) yet at the same time he is an entire stranger to us, imported fresh from Missouri which has made so many widows and orphans around me. Can it be expected from us that we will relinquish our constitutional rights, and have no voice in the selection of our own officers? (loud cries of "Never") or shall we submit to have the fetters forged which our fathers broke, and tamely endure a worse than colonial bondage from which they were emancipated (Never, No Never) shall we give up him who has governed us for years with such happy results -- who has proved himself to be no summer friend, (one simultaneous "No.") who our dark days of adversity and sorrow stood faithfully by us in every storm, who has been a co-partner with us in poverty, nakedness, and want, who has sympathised in all our afflictions, and led and guided us, as a tender parent would his child? I say shall we give up such a man, and allow a mere stranger to supplant him in our affections? (No Never, No never, from all parts of the house) The universal feeling of this people is that Gov. Young is, and ever will be our Governor. We may have many failings as a people; but God grant that ingratitude may never be added to the list of our short comings, (applause) It is not on account of the prestige which the high ecclesiastical position Brigham Young gives him amongst us, that our suffrages are thus united. We as a people have always been led by the maxim of the founder of our faith, "to "render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's," and to God the things which are God's." There are a thousand reasons why this people have such unbounded confidence in Govr Young; we have beheld with no small degree of pleasure the sound policy that has characterised all his official acts in the administration of all the affairs connected with this Territory -- the impetus he has given to every branch of industry -- the combination of capital which has been effected by his instrumentality, and the happy results of the same in developing the - resources of the country. -- the opening of public works in this City and other places to give labor to the unemployed and save them from idleness, and its concomitant vices -- drunkenness and immorality. But above all we have ever seen him mete out even handed justice to every man -- saint or sinner, gentile and "Mormon", neither courting the smile or fearing the frown of any one; with him the Constitution has been honored and the laws sustained; and by his shining example has kept a people otherwise isolated, true in their allegiance to their constitution and country. (hear, hear.) No wonder, then, that he is the man of our choice. But alas! we have fallen from the proud height of american citizens to the level of Russian serfs and must be turned over by a bigoted administration to a master about whom we know nothing!
The principles of my religion teach me to honor and esteem all men, if the principles of honor and truth dwell in them. No matter from what state he may hail. I greet him as a brother and a friend, Social distinctions should not separate us in our feelings; we are all citizens of the one Great Republic! But at the same time the ruler should have some kindred sympathies with the ruled; should know their past history and future prospects. I do not say that Govr. Cumming is devoid of this; but shall we give up certainty for an uncertainty? We have always sustained the officers of the united states who have bee sent amongst us, and upheld the laws in every particular. The law has never "been diverted from its proper channel" in this Territory but carried out to all intents and purposes.
We have borne with corrupt officials to an extent that no other people would have endured in any other state or Territory in the Union. Some of our

immaculate judges deplored our polygamy; and with base turpitude wallowed in adultery and fornications with hypocritical cant, they exhorted us to sustain the law, yet trampled under foot our municipal laws against drunkenness and gambling!
In most instances the officials who have been sent here have been broken down politicians -- mean contemptible office seekers who had nothing to recomment them but their adeptness in all kinds of crime and immorality -- the foul excresence of gambling dens and brothels; and we have every reason to believe that the present "demonstration against Utah" has been predicated by the administration upon the misrepresentations of one of these corrupt scoundrels, who at the present time is a stink in the nostrils of all good men throughout the union. I refer to that unhung vagabond judge Drummond, "upon whose testimony" says a new york Editor "I would not hang a dog." (groans) We are called upon by Gov. Cumming to "calmly consider" the circumstances in which we are unhappily placed; not, however by any act of our own but by the precipitate movement of the administration; for they have acted on the interested misrepresentations of disappointed demagogues, who because we would not send them to Congress, swore they would destroy us.
Govr. Cumming remarked in his speech, "that there is a strong prejudice existing in the states against us as a people." This is alas! too true, we have never done anything, however, to merit it, and if a fickle public opinion is exasperated against us without cause, are we to blame-- the innocent object of its wrath?

His excellency can do us much good as a people, and prove himself a true patriot of his country, if he will use his weighty influence with the Government and nation in disabusing their minds of their prejudices, and the foul aspersions that have been thrown upon our character as a people. He has been many years in the service of the Government and his character is unimpeachable, so far as I know, and I have no doubt there will soon be a re-action in the Government & public mind towards us, We would request your excellency to state in your dispatches to Washington that tho' we as a people have been wronged, cruelly wronged, of all our rights, and robbed and banished by an ungrateful country, still the fire of pure american democarcy burns warm in our bosoms, and the warm impulses we inherit from our revolutionary Sires are not yet extinguished.( great applause) We wish these Troops immediately recalled, that we may no longer be menaced by their presence. This we look upon as the first preliminary to attend to in order that all obstacles may be removed for the adjustment of all real or imaginary difficulties. Nor will we ever consent to receive any appointee until that army is removed from our Territory. If government is not satisfied with us let them (after the army is withdrawn) send on an investigating committee to inquire into all matters; we court investigation, and will not shrink from the severest scrubing. Kansas, before troops were quartered upon her, had this privilege. Do not make Utah an exception this as well as to every other privilege. Let us have an opportunity of bringing our "dark deeds" to light; or must we be judged without a hearing, and be denied the right of a common culprit to speak in our own defence. We will willingly submit to the severest cross examinations -- we are not afraid of the law for we have never broken it. Upon what, fellow citizen, have the "Mormons" trespassed in any state or Territory and sought to injure him in person or property? Then why hound us to death by a brutal soldiery? There are thousands before me this day from every state in the Union who enjoyed rights and privileges and were called the "Sovereign people," but by some calamity have been deprived of their franchise, and not permitted to have any voice in the selection of their own officers. Have we lost every privilege through leaving state and becoming the denizens of a Territory? Are we not unfortunate as people to be the pioneers of our nation -- to plant civilization in the sandy desert, and extend the public domain a thousand miles in the wilderness, on to behold our liberties and improvements perish together!
It is not denied, but publicly acknowleged both in and out of congress that the "Expedition against Utah" has mainly for its object the extinction of poligamy in this Territory. But what right has the administration to put down by force of arms a domestic institution, and religious principle which the
constitution has never condemned? Could they not with the same propriety make an aggression on the South, and immediately plunge the nation into civil war. At the present time they certainly present an anomaly to the world by sending an army to Kansas to uphold slavery, and other to Utah to put down polygamy! (great applause) That "the people of the Territories have the inherent right to regulate their own domestic institutions" is the basis upon which our liberty rests; and for any administration to deprive us of that right commits Treason against the Constitution, and has become recreant to every principle of justice and patriotism. (cheers).
It is said, however, that the cabinet are very desirous that the morals of the nation should be improved. We are glad to hear it for certainly they have a wide field to work in; and we trust they will begin at home first, for "those who live in glass houses should throw no stones."
Jefferson says "it is the object of all good government to teach men not to injure one another" Our fore fathers had xxxx too enlarged views of human differences to frame a Constitution that would oppress man in his domestic notions or religious opinions; but has left him perfectly free to form the one and enjoy the other.

Gov. Cumming says "he is pleased with the appearance of the City, and gratified in witnessing the industry of the people," I am glad to hear these words of encouragement; for as a people we have been so used to harshness and blows that a word of kindness is the more pleasing to our ears for its novelty. I presume no city in the world has been built up under the same trying circumstances that this has, every thing that we have got has been quarried from the wild field of nature. In '47 we entered this Valley, weary, worn, and naked after a journey of fifteen hundred miles across the Continent. The prospect was anything but encourageing, the Country was bare, barren and uninviting -- the wild sage brush and prickly pear its only indigenous fruit, its dreary solitude only awakened occasionally by the war-whoop of the savage, or the howl of the wolf, or the growl of the grizzly bear. But through the kind providences of the Almighty the place has been changed as by the wand of enchanter. The hum of industry has taken the place of solitude -- the peach, the apricot, the apple and the vine, have displaced the sage brush & prickly pear, large farms have trespassed on the "reserved rights" of the bear and the wolf; and Cities, Towns, and villages stretch through our mountain valleys over four hundred miles. Schools and seminaries of learning have been organized in every ward in the Territory, and the inhabitants have advanced in every constituent element that can mark the progress of a great and good people. (loud applause) We have formed an oasis in the desert, of which the union should be proud; and a half-way-house between the rising and setting sun that should entitle us to a Nation's gratitude (loud applause) But instead of this the Nation has treated us as tho' we were its worst enemies. Almost from the time the organic act was passed, organizing Utah into a Territory, our history has been a concatenation of insults and abuse. The expence and danger of protecting our infant settlements from Indian incursions has devolved upon ourselves. Oregon, and other Territories, can be compensated with Millions to defray their Indian wars, while a mere pittance of our just due is grudgingly doled out to us. For years the mail facilities with which all other States and Territories are favored, have almost entirely been denied us. Frequently for five or six months not a single mail would arrive in our City from the East, and even in the summer season it would be so irregular that our business men could place no dependence in it; and when at length one of our spirited fellow citizens obtained the contract and at a great outlay of capital formed stations along the way for hundreds of miles, and the Mail carried in less than one half the time it had been previously, the contract was basely broken by the P. O. department on the frivolous charge "the U. S. Mails were not safe, owing to the unsettled state of affairs in this city" where at the same time every man was following the peaceful avocations of life, and a drunkard a loafer or rowdy could not be found in our streets. (immense cheering.)

We have sent petition after petition couched in the most respectful language to the various departments in the administration, praying for a redress of grievances; but they have been treated with silent contempt and renewed insult. Our Legislature during its session of '56 & 7 sent memorials to the President enclosing the names of from three to six fellow citizens to fill each of the several offices in the Territory, praying him most respectfully to make his ow selection from those names; and if none of them suited him,-- tho' they all had our entire confidence-- to send us at least good men, and not such characters as many who had been here before who were a disgrace to their country and sex. The only reply that we have received is "the demonstration against Utah," an intire corps of civil officers, every one entire strangers to us even down to the post Master whom the law emphatically says "must be a resident in the district in which he acts;" and accompanied by a large army to force them upon us at the points of the bayonet!! Shall we receive these appointees? (One universal cry of "No") Shall we have the Troops quartered in our city? ("Never) But they have come for peace! (laughter) I recollect one anecdote that relates to the time of Oliver Cromwell; when the Protector died the main body of the British Army was in Scotland under the command of Genl. Monk, who immediately ordered the army to march for London. An intense excitement prevailed in the public minds as to the intentions of Monk who had great influence with the army, whether he would espouse the cause of the banished Charles, or favor the succession of oliver's son. A Quaker accosted him on his march and asked him, "what he was for?" "for peace to be sure," replied the Gen.," well friend" says the Quaker, "When I meet a man in the morning with saw and planes, hammer and chisel, I naturally feel to judge by his tools he is going to do some carpenter work; and when I see a General in such times going to the Metropolis for peace with an army which knows no law but to carry out his behest, I naturally feel he has got the wrong kind of peaceable tools" (loud laughter clapping of hands and other demonstrations of joy,) When your Excellency talks about peace and protection, we think you have sadly mistaken your tools to bring a `possee Commitatus" of two thousand bayonets along with you (loud applause) Good and wholesome laws are always savory to our smell, but they stink odiously when they smell so strongly of Gunpowder. (immense cheers)
As a citizen of the United States, I will never consent to receive any official till that army is withdrawn. (loud applause) Its removal is the only basis upon which we can act in settling all difficulties.
It has been brought here through misrepresentations and lies. Let the investigations which your Excellency has made during the past week, and the truth which has come under your observation cause it to return. (applause)

I feel, fellow-citizens, that there are many here who would like to speak, and have the same privilege as myself to express the indignation they feel at the course that has been pursued towards us as a people. I hope His Excellency has taken no offence at anything I have said; for I entertain the very best of feelings towards him. The course he has pursued for the last few days in investigating the false statement about the burning of the United States Library and the Records of the Supreme Court, has the approval of all honest men; and he will find all other matters equally satisfactory. I hope he may realize his wish `to do us good,' and if he orders back his "posse commitatus" we will take it as an earnest of better things to come.
In conclusion, let me say that tho' we are "Mormons" we love our country, and revere the institutions bought by the blood of our fathers. We hope to live and perpetuate the principles of pure American Democracy to our posterity. Altho' dark clouds hang over us this day, and we see party spirit rife throughout the length and breadth of our great Republic, and the foundation of our Constitution's being sapped and underminded by those who should be its pillars, yet should things come to the worst, Utah knows too well her duty to shrink from it.

I am proud to reiterate the sentiment which dropt from the lips of Secretary Babbitt three years ago, at the anniversary of the 4th of July, "Should the Constitution of our country ever be in danger of being overthrown, I believe Utah will be foremost in the Van to rescue it." Yes.' we hope to see the day when the reins of Government will be in the hands of honorable, highminded men, whose interest it will be to promote the welfare and happiness of the people-- the whole people, in every State and Territory of our great Union-- who will feel that "standing armies are only fit for tyrants," while safe guard of a President is the affections of the people. (loud and continued applause)


Note 1
Reported by J. V. Long.
After the speech of Mr. Clements; Gov. Cummings said: I would appeal to the gentleman who has addressed this congregation with such skill and evident ability, as must have been apparent to all: I would appeal to him with regard to one thing, and request that he will state to this people that no digression has attempted to be performed by the government to the exclusion of the right this people with those of other Territories. If the gentleman has heard what have said, he will make the response, whether there has been any digression or not, or whether this has been the same as with all the Territories.

Mr. Clements replied: In answer to His Excellency, I would respectfully say, that for years there has been a manifest difference on the part of the Government towards us and the people of other Territories: 1st. Preemption rights have been withheld from us, but granted to the people of all other Territories. (applause.) 2nd. While large appropriations have been made to other Territories for Indian purposes, public buildings, educational purposes, &c. &c., we have been excluded from any. 3rd. The postal facilities that all other Territories enjoy we have been denied. (loud applause.)

Gov. Cumming said: May I take the [----] passing upon that gentleman's time (Voice, don't be angry.) I am not angry, but I wish to consider things cooly and dispassionately. I have not the pleasure of your name, Sir, but I wish to ask, whether there has been any digression in regard to this Territory and other Territories of the United States. (Voice: Yes, there has.)


Mr Clements replied: The reasons that I have already given Your Excellency, abundantly prove, I think, that we have not been treated like any other Territory. There has not been only been a digression, but a course has been pursued to us palpably opposite to that which has been pursued to the other Territories. (great applause.)

Gov. Cumming remarked: I then understand that the gentleman admits, that there been no digression from the law of `91. The law was adopted in `89, and the Congress established it as a rule in `90, and that law has been the basis of Territorial appointments. Then, fellow citizens, you hear from me, and it is confirmed a friend whom you know for his integrity and intelligence, that there are no attempts to make any difference between the people of this Territory and any other which has been organized as the germ of a future state.
I have come here to carefully investigate this matter. One gentleman gives me a suggestion to keep my temper, which I trust I shall always do. I have come here with no assurance of being treated well, but I come believing in your intelligence, and that I should be protected. I met some gentlemen on the way, and was treated courteously by them, (Voice, why didn't you come last fall?) but now I am here, and you have me for what I am. I can appeal to gentlemen, whose names are revered by you, when I say, that I have a desire for the promotion and the independence of a people who have dared to strike for liberty such as is guarranteed by the constitution and the laws which emanate from it.

I do not desire to come as an interloper. I come here direct from the source of power; and I am not for the bayonets that come to enforce your respect. I trust I shall yet live to see the day, as old as I am, when I shall be glad to remember the day I first met with you. If you do not believe me to be the man that I say I am, the time may not be far remote when one not much better may be sent here; and in fact, I am assured that such will be the case, provided another should have to be appointed in my stead. I know my own heart, but I know not what may be upon the hearts of others. As to the dictation which this gentleman alludes to he knows as to the peculiar mode in which I should be received, if I were to transcend my limits. Should any unpleasantness arise during my administration, then let me be judged by my acts, and if I am then condemned let me be invited here, and have a plain, open enquiry about my conduct, and I promise that I will not be found a ragged thing hanging about your skirts when you do not want me any longer.
With these feelings I trust I shall be received as a friend.

Mr. Clements replied: I am sorry your Excellency does not understand me, for I have already stated a number of instances in which Utah has been treated differently from other Territories.

The law of '89 was not designed to trample on the rights of the people in the Territories, nor infringe upon their constitutional privileges. The case of Utah has unfortunately been an exception in reference to officials. The appointees to other Territories have generally been acceptable, so far as I am acquainted, to the people in our case they have been in the majority of cases objectionable; and the whole question narrows itself down to this:-- Is the arbitrary right vested in the President to force upon the people of the Territories, officers they do not want, and withhold from them men of their own choice? We admit that a usage has obtained for the President to appoint officers for the Territories, but does that usage allow him to force against their united wish officials upon them? We say, if it does it is repugnant to our Constitution, and subversive of all our institutions, the spirit of which is, that all sovereign power emanates from the people, and surely this power is entirely wrenched from them, if they are compelled to receive officials at the point of the bayonet.
If I reside in any state I have a voice in the selection of every officers in the state. By becoming a `squatter sovereign' in a Territory am I disfranchised and my `sovereignty' become that of a slave?
Utah is an exception, for if a petition had come from the Legislature of any other Territory containing from three to six names for the several offices in the Territory, and praying the President to make a selection from the list, he would not have dared act towards them as he has done to us.
The Memorial of our Legislature to the President was the unanimous feeling of this entire people, and the only reply we receive is a batch of men opposite to those we asked for; --even down to the Post master they are all strangers, and come at the point of the bayonet. I feel therefore, that we would be recreant to every claim we have as freemen and american citizens if we do not take every means to resist such unconstitutional measures.

Item sets

Speech delivered by
Gilbert Clements

Tabernackle  April 25th 1858.

Reported by G. D. Watt.

As a resident of this city, and a citizen of the United States, I wish to express my feelings on this important occasion.  The matter which lies before us, as Citizens of this Great Republic, is of paramount importance to us: it affects our liberty constitutional rights as an integral part of this great nation.  Not only does it affect ourselves as individuals, but our posterity unborn will be made happy or miserable by the course we pursue at the present time.  We have come, fellow citizens, to a crisis when we must make up our minds whether we will tamely submit to be robbed of our rights, or stand up for them as freemen as men who are entitled to the enjoyment of those great inalienable privileges that have been purchased by the blood of our fathers; that were won in the midst of turmoil and scenes of battle.  Shall we do this, or submit to a vassalage like that which our fathers endured previous to the glorious epoch of '76 when they struggled for the rights of independence, and dared maintain them?

As an individual, I am glad to see his excellency, Gov. Cumming this morning, which is the first time.  His appearance is very prepossessing; and the remarks he has made also are very good, and have met my feelings in many respects; while in others they have given me exceedingly great pain.

How his Excellency's mind could have been influenced to labor under the erroneous impression that "certain persons" in Utah are held in `durance vile,' their liberties infringed upon so that they cannot go or come as they please, is a matter of astonishment to me; when the fact is that every man, woman and child, whose minds are capable of understanding, must know that without restriction they have had liberty to go and come as they pleased.  They must know that our leaders have declared time and time again, that the kanyons were open for all to pass and repass; and those who wished to go and hadn't means for their outfit should be helped away by Govr. Young.  I appeal to this vast audience if this has not been the case; (a universal cry of "yes" from the people) there has never been the least restriction exercised upon any persons as to their ingress or egress in this Territory, till a short time since when the Indian disturbances broke out which rendered all travel unsafe either east, west, north or south.  Gov. Young in kindness to the few people that wanted to leave this place, and that few the miserable exception to the united wishes of this entire people  were men who were afraid their actions would soon be made known and held up before the public gaze to be disgraced as they deserved  even these parties our Gov. has been desirious should not depart until they could go in peace and safety without losing their lives.  In October last, full liberty was given for all who wished to join the soldiers camp at Ham's Fork to depart in peace,  Only one woman  desired to go to join her husband who was with the Troops; and she was safely escorted thither at Gov.  Young's expense in his own carriage.  It is a foul libel on the character of this people to say that persons are held here by force against their wishes when our City for years has been a perfect thoroughfare of travel from the East to the west and Vice Versa.

Sir, I only express the universal feeling of this great people, when I say, that we have no desire to leave these mountains and return to the land which gave us birth.  We have suffered too much in a country which disfranchised us as freemen, robbed us of our property, imbrued her hands in the blood of our best men, and banished us beyond the pale of her civilization. (great sensation)  Nine tenths of this vast audience before me would not have been here, had they been permitted to enjoy the common rights of American freemen in the land of their birth  those rights for which their fathers bled and died (applause)  We have left that land, and rent assunder the endearing ties of consanguinity.  For what?  Because we could not worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, and tread in the peaceful path of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness  Because we would do this, we have been persecuted and driven from our homes and firesides.  We purchased lands in Missouri and Illinois, opened farms, built cities, planted orchards, erected mills, constructed bridges, made roads, and have had to relinquish them all by the power of ruthless mobocracy.  We have labored day and night, to show ourselves good citizens of the United States, but our good feelings to our country have been impugned, our motives misjudged, and our characters calumniated.  We are martyrs to that most detestable of all human crimes, religious persecution.  Through the hardships we have passed consequent upon our drivings, thousands have perished and filled an untimely grave.  We cannot be blamed, therefore, in preferring these bleak and inhospitable regions for the fair and smiling landscape that was once our home.  We have come among the savages of the desert and found a home which was denied us by christian (?) civilization.

It has been said by Gov. Cumming in his impressive speech which we have just had the honor of listening to, that, "the invading army" which is now upon our borders, has not come to infringe upon our liberties, but to protect us,"  I take a very different view of the subject: from the day that the news reached us that an "Expedition against Utah" was about starting out, that our mail was closed in order that intelligence might not reach us of their approach; the conviction was at once settled in my mind that the present administration intended neither more, nor less, than to carry on a religious crusade against this innocent and unoffending people.  Every subsequent movement has only served to confirm and strengthen this conviction.  But had there been any dubiety in my mind on the subject; if there had been the least ray of hope within me as to the good intentions of the Government in sending an army to this Territory, I assure you, fellow citizens, it would have vanished away by the apology of his Excellency for the presence of the "invading army"  "To protect us!"  It is the most miserable, mean and transparent subterfuge I ever heard in my life; and exhibits a degree of turpitude of which I would fain acquit the administration.  In the name of common sense why did they not come when we were weak when we were a mere handful in these wild and inhospitable regions, surrounded on every hand by a subtle and savage foe?  We have had to leave our homes and farms time and time again to go on Indian expeditions to protect our infant settlements from the depredations of the red skin; and the general government has winked at our difficulties, thinking perhaps we would be used up by the numerous savage tribes that surround us (hear hear) and now when we have from one become a thousand, and from a few become a strong nation, and abundantly able to take care of ourselves, behold! they are filled with compassion towards us, and come along with "the Gospel according to gunpowder" to protect us. (immense applause loud cheers and other (demonstrations of approval in which Govr. Cumming cordially joined.)  What sublime sympathy!  What an overflowing of the "Milk of human kindness"!!  It is the tenderness of the crocodiles which never sheds tears till it is about swallowing its victim!!! (continued applause)

And who, I ask, are the guardians of our liberties?  Into whose kind arms are we to fall and be shielded from all "the ills that flesh is heir to"?  Are they are own fellow citizen soldiers?  No!  they come in the form of a foreign army, officered, it is true, by American heroes; but the ranks entirely filled with aliens   Men who have no fellowfeeling with us at all, whose daily boast was when crossing the plains that they would, on their arrival in this City, revel in every kind of licentiousness and immorality with our wives and daughters.  These men would laugh at our misery, and take pleasure in the shedding of our blood.  While this country has opened up new fields of comfort and competence for the industrious, virtuous, and down trodden sons of the old world, who have found it an asylum for all their woes and sorrows, and the goal of all their earthly hopes; at the same time it has been a great sewer that has received the scum of the earth, which settles by degrees in its vast reservoir the restless gambler, the prowling burglar, the scapegrace, and libertine, all gravitate in it.  And from this floating material is the army of the United States composed; and it is no sinecure for an american officer to control such unruly elements.  Shall we, therefore, as free born american citizens ever submit to have rulers forced upon us by a "Possee Commitaties" of foreign bayonets?"  Loud cries, "No never.)  From past experience we know too well the state of society that would soon exist here, were an army stationed in our city.  In the fall of `54 Col. Steptoe's command arrived in this valley on their way to California.  The season being advanced they wintered amongst us; and never did a people treat an army more kindly than we did.  Many of our most respectable citizens vacated their large houses to accomodate the Troops during the winter which was unusually severe and lived in log cabins or tents.  We supplied them abundantly with provisions, and their annimals with forage  we got up entertainments during the long winter months to amuse them; and in return for all our kindness they filled our streets with drunkenness, and endeavored to fill our houses with crime.

As a man, I have no feelings whatever against Gov Cumming.  As I remarked at the commencement of my speech, his appearance is prepossessing.  He has a good open countenance, that marks a straightforward honorable man; (laughter) yet at the same time he is an entire stranger to us, imported fresh from Missouri which has made so many widows and orphans around me.  Can it be expected from us that we will relinquish our constitutional rights, and have no voice in the selection of our own officers?  (loud cries of "Never") or shall we submit to have the fetters forged which our fathers broke, and tamely endure a worse than colonial bondage from which they were emancipated (Never, No Never) shall we give up him who has governed us for years with such happy results  who has proved himself to be no summer friend, (one simultaneous "No.")  who our dark days of adversity and sorrow stood faithfully by us in every storm, who has been a copartner with us in poverty, nakedness, and want, who has sympathised in all our afflictions, and led and guided us, as a tender parent would his child?  I say shall we give up such a man, and allow a mere stranger to supplant him in our affections?  (No Never, No never, from all parts of the house)  The universal feeling of this people is that Gov. Young is, and ever will be our Governor.  We may have many failings as a people; but God grant that ingratitude may never be added to the list of our short comings, (applause)  It is not on account of the prestige which the high ecclesiastical position Brigham Young gives him amongst us, that our suffrages are thus united.  We as a people have always been led by the maxim of the founder of our faith, "to "render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's," and to God the things which are God's."  There are a thousand reasons why this people have such unbounded confidence in Govr Young; we have beheld with no small degree of pleasure the sound policy that has characterised all his official acts in the administration of all the affairs connected with this Territory  the impetus he has given to every branch of industry  the combination of capital which has been effected by his instrumentality, and the happy results of the same in developing the  resources of the country.  the opening of public works in this City and other places to give labor to the unemployed and save them from idleness, and its concomitant vices  drunkenness and immorality.  But above all we have ever seen him mete out even handed justice to every man  saint or sinner, gentile and "Mormon", neither courting the smile or fearing the frown of any one; with him the Constitution has been honored and the laws sustained; and by his shining example has kept a people otherwise isolated, true in their allegiance to their constitution and country. (hear, hear.)  No wonder, then, that he is the man of our choice.  But alas!  we have fallen from the proud height of american citizens to the level of Russian serfs and must be turned over by a bigoted administration to a master about whom we know nothing!

The principles of my religion teach me to honor and esteem all men, if the principles of honor and truth dwell in them.  No matter from what state he may hail.  I greet him as a brother and a friend,  Social distinctions should not separate us in our feelings; we are all citizens of the one Great Republic!  But at the same time the ruler should have some kindred sympathies with the ruled; should know their past history and future prospects.  I do not say that Govr. Cumming is devoid of this; but shall we give up certainty for an uncertainty?  We have always sustained the officers of the united states who have bee sent amongst us, and upheld the laws in every particular.  The law has never "been diverted from its proper channel" in this Territory but carried out to all intents and purposes.

We have borne with corrupt officials to an extent that no other people would have endured in any other state or Territory in the Union.  Some of our immaculate judges deplored our polygamy; and with base turpitude wallowed in adultery and fornications with hypocritical cant, they exhorted us to sustain the law, yet trampled under foot our municipal laws against drunkenness and gambling!

In most instances the officials who have been sent here have been broken down politicians  mean contemptible office seekers who had nothing to recomment them but their adeptness in all kinds of crime and immorality  the foul excresence of gambling dens and brothels; and we have every reason to believe that the present "demonstration against Utah" has been predicated by the administration upon the misrepresentations of one of these corrupt scoundrels, who at the present time is a stink in the nostrils of all good men throughout the union.  I refer to that unhung vagabond judge Drummond, "upon whose testimony" says a new york Editor "I would not hang a dog." (groans)  We are called upon by Gov. Cumming to "calmly consider" the circumstances in which we are unhappily placed; not, however by any act of our own but by the precipitate movement of the administration; for they have acted on the interested misrepresentations of disappointed demagogues, who because we would not send them to Congress, swore they would destroy us.

Govr. Cumming remarked in his speech, "that there is a strong prejudice existing in the states against us as a people."  This is alas! too true, we have never done anything, however, to merit it, and if a fickle public opinion is exasperated against us without cause, are we to blame the innocent object of its wrath?

His excellency can do us much good as a people, and prove himself a true patriot of his country, if he will use his weighty influence with the Government and nation in disabusing their minds of their prejudices, and the foul aspersions that have been thrown upon our character as a people.  He has been many years in the service of the Government and his character is unimpeachable, so far as I know, and I have no doubt there will soon be a reaction in the Government & public mind towards us,  We would request your excellency to state in your dispatches to Washington that tho' we as a people have been wronged, cruelly wronged, of all our rights, and robbed and banished by an ungrateful country, still the fire of pure american democarcy burns warm in our bosoms, and the warm impulses we inherit from our revolutionary Sires are not yet extinguished.( great applause)  We wish these Troops immediately recalled, that we may no longer be menaced by their presence.  This we look upon as the first preliminary to attend to in order that all obstacles may be removed for the adjustment of all real or imaginary difficulties.  Nor will we ever consent to receive any appointee until that army is removed from our Territory.  If government is not satisfied with us let them (after the army is withdrawn) send on an investigating committee to inquire into all matters; we court investigation, and will not shrink from the severest scrubing.  Kansas, before troops were quartered upon her, had this privilege.  Do not make Utah an exception this as well as to every other privilege.  Let us have an opportunity of bringing our "dark deeds" to light; or must we be judged without a hearing, and be denied the right of a common culprit to speak in our own defence.  We will willingly submit to the severest cross examinations  we are not afraid of the law for we have never broken it.  Upon what, fellow citizen, have the "Mormons" trespassed in any state or Territory and sought to injure him in person or property?  Then why hound us to death by a brutal soldiery?  There are thousands before me this day from every state in the Union who enjoyed rights and privileges and were called the "Sovereign people," but by some calamity have been deprived of their franchise, and not permitted to have any voice in the selection of their own officers.  Have we lost every privilege through leaving state and becoming the denizens of a Territory?  Are we not unfortunate as people to be the pioneers of our nation  to plant civilization in the sandy desert, and extend the public domain a thousand miles in the wilderness, on to behold our liberties and improvements perish together!

It is not denied, but publicly acknowleged both in and out of congress that the "Expedition against Utah" has mainly for its object the extinction of poligamy in this Territory.  But what right has the administration to put down by force of arms a domestic institution, and religious principle which the constitution has never condemned?  Could they not with the same propriety make an aggression on the South, and immediately plunge the nation into civil war.  At the present time they certainly present an anomaly to the world by sending an army to Kansas to uphold slavery, and other to Utah to put down polygamy!  (great applause)  That "the people of the Territories have the inherent right to regulate their own domestic institutions" is the basis upon which our liberty rests; and for any administration to deprive us of that right commits Treason against the Constitution, and has become recreant to every principle of justice and patriotism.  (cheers).

It is said, however, that the cabinet are very desirous that the morals of the nation should be improved.  We are glad to hear it for certainly they have a wide field to work in; and we trust they will begin at home first, for "those who live in glass houses should throw no stones."

Jefferson says "it is the object of all good government to teach men not to injure one another"  Our fore fathers had xxxx  too enlarged views of human differences to frame a Constitution that would oppress man in his domestic notions or religious opinions; but has left him perfectly free to form the one and enjoy the other.

Gov. Cumming says "he is pleased with the appearance of the City, and gratified in witnessing the industry of the people,"  I am glad to hear these words of encouragement; for as a people we have been so used to harshness and blows that a word of kindness is the more pleasing to our ears for its novelty.  I presume no city in the world has been built up under the same trying circumstances that this has, every thing that we have got has been quarried from the wild field of nature.  In '47 we entered this Valley, weary, worn, and naked after a journey of fifteen hundred miles across the Continent.  The prospect was anything but encourageing, the Country was bare, barren and uninviting  the wild sage brush and prickly pear its only indigenous fruit, its dreary solitude only awakened occasionally by the warwhoop of the savage, or the howl of the wolf, or the growl of the grizzly bear.  But through the kind providences of the Almighty the place has been changed as by the wand of enchanter.  The hum of industry has taken the place of solitude  the peach, the apricot, the apple and the vine, have displaced the sage brush & prickly pear, large farms have trespassed on the "reserved rights" of the bear and the wolf; and Cities, Towns, and villages stretch through our mountain valleys over four hundred miles.  Schools and seminaries of learning have been organized in every ward in the Territory, and the inhabitants have advanced in every constituent element that can mark the progress of a great and good people. (loud applause)  We have formed an oasis in the desert, of which the union should be proud; and a halfwayhouse between the rising and setting sun that should entitle us to a Nation's gratitude (loud applause)  But instead of this the Nation has treated us as tho' we were its worst enemies.  Almost from the time the organic act was passed, organizing Utah into a Territory, our history has been a concatenation of insults and abuse.  The expence and danger of protecting our infant settlements from Indian incursions has devolved upon ourselves.  Oregon, and other Territories, can be compensated with Millions to defray their Indian wars, while a mere pittance of our just due is grudgingly doled out to us.  For years the mail facilities with which all other States and Territories are favored, have almost entirely been denied us.  Frequently for five or six months not a single mail would arrive in our City from the East, and even in the summer season it would be so irregular that our business men could place no dependence in it; and when at length one of our spirited fellow citizens obtained the contract and at a great outlay of capital formed stations along the way for hundreds of miles, and the Mail carried in less than one half the time it had been previously, the contract was basely broken by the P. O. department on the frivolous charge "the U. S. Mails were not safe, owing to the unsettled state of affairs in this city" where at the same time every man was following the peaceful avocations of life, and a drunkard a loafer or rowdy could not be found in our streets.  (immense cheering.)

We have sent petition after petition couched in the most respectful language to the various departments in the administration, praying for a redress of grievances; but they have been treated with silent contempt and renewed insult.  Our Legislature during its session of '56 & 7 sent memorials to the President enclosing the names of from three to six fellow citizens to fill each of the several offices in the Territory, praying him most respectfully to make his ow selection from those names; and if none of them suited him, tho' they all had our entire confidence to send us at least good men,  and not such characters as many who had been here before who were a disgrace to their country and sex.  The only reply that we have received is "the demonstration against Utah,"  an intire corps of civil officers, every one entire strangers to us even down to the post Master whom the law emphatically says "must be a resident in the district in which he acts;" and accompanied by a large army to force them upon us at the points of the bayonet!!  Shall we receive these appointees? (One universal cry of "No")  Shall we have the Troops quartered in our city? ("Never)  But they have come for peace!  (laughter)  I recollect one anecdote that relates to the time of Oliver Cromwell; when the Protector died the main body of the British Army was in Scotland under the command of Genl. Monk, who immediately ordered the army to march for London.  An intense excitement prevailed in the public minds as to the intentions of Monk who had great influence with the army, whether he would espouse the cause of the banished Charles, or favor the succession of oliver's son.  A Quaker accosted him on his march and asked him, "what he was for?"  "for peace to be sure," replied the Gen.," well friend" says the Quaker, "When I meet a man in the morning with saw and planes, hammer and chisel, I naturally feel to judge by his tools he is going to do some carpenter work; and when I see a General in such times going to the Metropolis for peace with an army which knows no law but to carry out his behest, I naturally feel he has got the wrong kind of peaceable tools" (loud laughter clapping of hands and other demonstrations of joy,)  When your Excellency talks about peace and protection, we think you have sadly mistaken your tools to bring a `possee Commitatus" of two thousand bayonets along with you (loud applause) Good and wholesome laws are always savory to our smell, but they stink odiously when they smell so strongly of Gunpowder. (immense cheers)

As a citizen of the United States, I will never consent to receive any official till that army is withdrawn. (loud applause)  Its removal is the only basis upon which we can act in settling all difficulties.

It has been brought here through misrepresentations and lies.  Let the investigations which your Excellency has made during the past week, and the truth which has come under your observation cause it to return.  (applause)

I feel, fellowcitizens, that there are many here who would like to speak, and have the same privilege as myself to express the indignation they feel at the course that has been pursued towards us as a people.  I hope His Excellency has taken no offence at anything I have said; for I entertain the very best of feelings towards him.  The course he has pursued for the last few days in investigating the false statement about the burning of the United States Library and the Records of the Supreme Court, has the approval of all honest men; and he will find all other matters equally satisfactory.  I hope he may realize his wish `to do us good,' and if he orders back his "posse commitatus" we will take it as an earnest of better things to come.

In conclusion, let me say that tho' we are "Mormons" we love our country, and revere the institutions bought by the blood of our fathers.  We hope to live and perpetuate the principles of pure American Democracy to our posterity.  Altho' dark clouds hang over us this day, and we see party spirit rife throughout the length and breadth of our great Republic, and the foundation of our Constitution's being sapped and underminded by those who should be its pillars, yet should things come to the worst, Utah knows too well her duty to shrink from it.

I am proud to reiterate the sentiment which dropt from the lips of Secretary Babbitt three years ago, at the anniversary of the 4th of July, "Should the Constitution of our country ever be in danger of being overthrown, I believe Utah will be foremost in the Van to rescue it." Yes.'  we hope to see the day when the reins of Government will be in the hands of honorable, highminded men, whose interest it will be to promote the welfare and happiness of the people the whole people, in every State and Territory of our great Union who will feel that "standing armies are only fit for tyrants," while safe guard of a President is the affections of the people.  (loud and continued applause)

 

Note  1

Reported by J. V. Long.

After the speech of Mr. Clements; Gov. Cummings said:  I would appeal to the gentleman who has addressed this congregation with such skill and evident ability, as must have been apparent to all:  I would appeal to him with regard to one thing, and request that he will state to this people that no digression has attempted to be performed by the government to the exclusion of the right this people with those of other Territories.  If the gentleman has heard what have said, he will make the response, whether there has been any digression or not, or whether this has been the same as with all the Territories.

Mr. Clements replied:  In answer to His Excellency, I would respectfully say, that for years there has been a manifest difference on the part of the Government towards us and the people of other Territories:  1st. Preemption rights have been withheld from us, but granted to the people of all other Territories. (applause.)  2nd. While large appropriations have been made to other Territories for Indian purposes, public buildings, educational purposes, &c. &c., we have been excluded from any.  3rd.  The postal facilities that all other Territories enjoy we have been denied.  (loud applause.)

Gov. Cumming said:  May I take the [] passing upon that gentleman's time (Voice, don't be angry.)  I am not angry, but I wish to consider things cooly and dispassionately.  I have not the pleasure of your name, Sir, but I wish to ask, whether there has been any digression in regard to this Territory and other Territories of the United States.  (Voice: Yes, there has.)

Mr Clements replied:  The reasons that I have already given Your Excellency, abundantly prove, I think, that we have not been treated like any other Territory.  There has not been only been a digression, but a course has been pursued to us palpably opposite to that which has been pursued to the other Territories.  (great applause.)

Gov. Cumming remarked:  I then understand that the gentleman admits, that there been no digression from the law of `91.  The law was adopted in `89, and the Congress established it as a rule in `90, and that law has been the basis of Territorial appointments.  Then, fellow citizens, you hear from me, and it is confirmed a friend whom you know for his integrity and intelligence, that there are no attempts to make any difference between the people of this Territory and any other which has been organized as the germ of a future state.

I have come here to carefully investigate this matter.  One gentleman gives me a suggestion to keep my temper, which I trust I shall always do.  I have come here with no assurance of being treated well, but I come believing in your intelligence, and that I should be protected.  I met some gentlemen on the way, and was treated courteously by them, (Voice, why didn't you come last fall?) but now I am here, and you have me for what I am.  I can appeal to gentlemen, whose names are revered by you, when I say, that I have a desire for the promotion and the independence of a people who have dared to strike for liberty such as is guarranteed by the constitution and the laws which emanate from it.

I do not desire to come as an interloper.  I come here direct from the source of power; and I am not for the bayonets that come to enforce your respect.  I trust I shall yet live to see the day, as old as I am, when I shall be glad to remember the day I first met with you.  If you do not believe me to be the man that I say I am, the time may not be far remote when one not much better may be sent here; and in fact, I am assured that such will be the case, provided another should have to be appointed in my stead.  I know my own heart, but I know not what may be upon the hearts of others.  As to the dictation which this gentleman alludes to he knows as to the peculiar mode in which I should be received, if I were to transcend my limits.  Should  any unpleasantness arise during my administration, then let me be judged by my acts, and if I am then condemned let me be invited here, and have a plain, open enquiry about my conduct, and I promise that I will not be found a ragged thing hanging about your skirts when you do not want me any longer.

With these feelings I trust I shall be received as a friend.

Mr. Clements replied:  I am sorry your Excellency does not understand me, for I have already stated a number of instances in which Utah has been treated differently from other Territories.

The law of '89 was not designed to trample on the rights of the people in the Territories, nor infringe upon their constitutional privileges.  The case of Utah has unfortunately been an exception in reference to officials.  The appointees to other Territories have generally been acceptable, so far as I am acquainted, to the people in our case they have been in the majority of cases objectionable; and the whole question narrows itself down to this: Is the arbitrary right vested in the President to force upon the people of the Territories, officers they do not want, and withhold from them men of their own choice?  We admit that a usage has obtained for the President to appoint officers for the Territories, but does that usage allow him to force against their united wish officials upon them?  We say, if it does it is repugnant to our Constitution, and subversive of all our institutions, the spirit of which is, that all sovereign power emanates from the people, and surely this power is entirely wrenched from them, if they are compelled to receive officials at the point of the bayonet.

If I reside in any state I have a voice in the selection of every officers in the state.  By becoming a `squatter sovereign' in a Territory am I disfranchised and my `sovereignty' become that of a slave?

Utah is an exception, for if a petition had come from the Legislature of any other Territory containing from three to six names for the several offices in the Territory, and praying the President to make a selection from the list, he would not have dared act towards them as he has done to us.

The Memorial of our Legislature to the President was the unanimous feeling of this entire people, and the only reply we receive is a batch of men opposite to those we asked for; even down to the Post master  they are all strangers, and come at the point of the bayonet.  I feel therefore, that we would be recreant to every claim we have as freemen and american citizens if we do not take every means to resist such unconstitutional measures.

 

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1858 April 25 Alfred Cumming Remarks