1859 May 3 Letter to Thomas L. Kane


1859 May 3 Letter to Thomas L. Kane


Government appointments use the military to uphold their abuses of power and attempt to instigate a physical response by the citizens. Judge Cradlebaugh holds an illegal court, orders the arrest of subpoenaed witnesses and authorizes the military to hold them.




Brigham Young


Thomas L. Kane


1859 May 3


Great Salt Lake City
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Legal Matters

Item sets

G. S. L. City May 3. 1859,

Col. Thomas L. Kane,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,

Dear Colonel:--
Another opportunity occurring for safe transmission, permit me to address you frankly, expressing my views and advancing statements with that candor due from one lover of and laborer for the best interests of mankind to another.

Were one inexperienced in the conduct of men and the power of evil, the expense and labor expended by portions of the human family to vex, injure and trample upon other portions, would indeed seem strange, especially when the commonality, as to species, of all portions is embraced in the reflections. Under impressions, which it claims to have been unbiassed, the Government sent a new baton of civil officers to Utah, accompanied by a large military posse, at enormous expense.

Reasoning naturally, a judicious person would conclude that those officers and that posse, upon learning the baseless foundation for so needless and expensive a movement, would have gladly united in fairly placing the facts before the world, and most cheerfully assisted in relieving the nation of so great and worse than useless an expenditure of its treasure. But love of place and power, without regard to merit, and the various gratifications commanded by wealth, regardless of right, have so crazed the minds of far too many that good principle and the conduct consonant therewith, whether in moral, social, or religious affairs, have become almost obsolete.

The self and might-appointed regulators of the conduct of Utah find themselves still troubled to adjust matters they do not understand, and still differ widely as to the best method of making the most capital, financial or political, out of the squandering of the public treasure. The Judges, suttlers, freighters, & apparently the army seem determined to stir up a collision with the citizens, under new pretexts as fast as others are tried and fail, lest their notoriety be driven to a poor market and their selfish schemes come to nought. On the other hand your friend Gov. Cumming and District Attorney Wilson still evidence an anxiety for the prevalence of even handed justice, and it is not a little singular that they are not more promptly and decidedly sustained, by the powers at Washington, in their efforts to carry out the Presidents Proclamation of april 6. 1858. Governor Cumming's declarations upon his arrival and subsequently, and the understanding with the Peace Commissioners.

The instructions of June 29, 1857, to the army in Utah, insomuch as they place military posses under the requisition of the Judges, Marshal and Deputy Marshals, have already proved very detrimental to the ends of justice and afforded facilities for an embroilment or plausible pretexts therefor. Under their authority Judge Cradlebaugh, appointing and holding a court in Provo contrary to all law known by us, required and received the presence of troops in and arround the court building, and prisoners, some of whom were arrested on bench warrants when summoned as witnesses, were committed to the care of the military, and all this not only without having called upon a posse from the country or district, but without having so much as even called upon the properly constituted civil authorities to take charge of said prisoners. True this was done under the plea, by the Judge, that there was no jail in the county, and that the Territory had failed to provide for securing and maintaining prisoners. The latter plea was ignorantly or wilfully untrue, and certainly no one will pretend to say that there are not many buildings in Provo wherein prisoners can be more securely and cheaply kept and guarded than in a tent; and besides, the local authorities informed the Judge that they had a building well adapted to the required purpose and would be responsible for the security and forthcoming of all prisoners delivered to their care. Why not have tried them? There would have been far less chance for prospective strife, and it would have cut off too many plausible arguments for still keeping a large force in Utah. So far as prisoners under the laws of the United States were concerned, the Judge's military requisition was not so particularly objected to, but such conduct towards prisoners under Territorial laws justly met with censure and strenuous objection, especially as the court was illegally held, though all to little or no effect, for the Judge, apparently held his court utterly regardless of law, or the rights and feelings of the citizens. If any one entertained an idea that he had an intention of impartially enquiring into alleged transgression of law, it was speedily dissipated by the presence of a military posse, the rejection of civil aid, and arrest of attending witnesses upon bench warrants. The legitimate and easily foreseen result of such a course was the sudden stampede of parties and witnesses, and the consequent termination of the court. A result so easily foreseen may have been carefully calculated, and the illegal court farce been enacted on purpose to blazon to the world, as they have, that Utah is banded together to screen offenders. But, to the reflecting, that statement comes with an ill grace, and the position defeats itself, for the military were called into requisition at the very outset, and the civil authorities entirely ignored, thereby instituting a military tribunal, altogether illegal at that, before which no citizen would willingly trust his case. Thus far, thanks to an overruling Providence, the machinations of the evil have been frustrated, and affairs, at this moment, are very quiet, notwithstanding frequent rumors, within the two weeks past, that Judge Sinclair and a large military posse designed visiting this city to hold a court. Those rumors have grown fainter during the past few days.

Would it not be well to have the army instructions, above alluded to, presented to the notice of the President, and have so much thereof rescinded as pertains to authorizing the Judges, Marshal and Deputy Marshals to call upon the Military for aid? at least not until the civil authorities and posse of the County or district have been tried and found wanting, which, with me, is not a supposable case. What possible harm can arise from rescinding a license capable of being wrested to so much mischief, and now conducive to no possible good?

Had we carried out our moving designs of the last season, I would not now have needed to trouble you with these questions, nor would we now be annoyed by such vexatious proceedings. But we trusted to the Presidents Proclamation, the Governor's entreaties and the fair statements of the Peace Commissioners, and returned to our homes; and now, having literally and fully complied with all requisitions, we claim the promised protection in our homes and rights, and strenuously request that Government take all clubs from the hands of the opponents of justice, and promptly and decidedly sustain Governor Cumming and Attorney Wilson in their wise, fair and statesmanlike course and policy. Let this be done, and those who seek strife for various personal and sinister motives will be apt to soon look for fields more favorable for their operations than in Utah.

But a truce to politics, policies, and the ways of the wicked, and let me inform you that a rather tedious winter and backward spring have given place to delightful weather, and prospects are flattering for abundant harvests.

Please accept my sympathy for the delicate state of your health, and the kindest wishes and regards for your best welfare and that of your dear family on the part of,

Truly your Friend

Brigham Young