1859 September 17 Letter to Thomas L. Kane


1859 September 17 Letter to Thomas L. Kane


The Indians are hostile due to abusive treatment by many. Attorney Wilson is returning to the States. Frustration is mounting from corrupt judges and demoralizing actions of the military. Kane is to counsel William Hooper in efforts to uphold the rights of Utah. Updates are given on emigration and manufacturing,


Indian Affairs


Brigham Young


Thomas L. Kane


1859 September 17


Great Salt Lake City
Philadelphia, PA

Number of Pages



Indian Affairs

Item sets

President's Office,
G.S.L. City, Sep. 17, 1859

Col. Thomas L. Kane,
Philadelphia, Pa.,

Dear Friend:--
It affords me great pleasure to improve the present opportunity for safely transmitting a letter to you through the politeness of our mutual and good friend the Hon. William H. Hooper, our Delegate to Congress.

Gen. Johnston and his command remain, as quietly as possible, ensconced in Camp Floyd, with the exception of occasionally sending out a small detachment. One detachment, under Major Lynde, was sent to escort some emigrants on their way to California by the northern route, a few wishing to leave here having applied for protection on that route, though, when they came to muster, the detachment had only 9 wagons to escort on a track wherein at the time there was no known danger. Remarkably condescending in Gen. Johnston to send a Major and escort with a few uneasy spirits! How many troops has Gen. Johnston ever furnished in Utah to protect the actual rights of American citizens? Not one? Judging from the past, how many is he likely to furnish for such an object? Not many.

It is currently reported that a portion of the aforesaid escorting detachment, temporarily stationed apart from their Major, treated some squaws very abusively, which naturally much enraged Indians in that neighborhood. Soon after that conduct, some of the Indians on the northern emigrant route began to waylay the emigration thereon, and attacked and plundered a small company, killing 3 or 4 of them. A small additional detachment was then sent north to apprehend or chastise the guilty, and in Box Elder Canon made an onslaught upon the first camp of Indians they found, composed of a few old Indians and some squaws and children, far from the scene of murder and unknown as to their guilt or innocence, and came out of the fight with several wounded, one of the soldiers, in their rapid retreat, having wantonly shot and killed a friendly Indian boy who was peacefully driving together the herd of one of the citizens. Since then Major Lynde and Lieut. Gay have concentrated their detachments on an elevated plateau on Bear river, secure from harm by Indians, and some distance from any route traveled by whites or any trail often used by Indians; and it is said the Indians have attacked two or more emigrant companies, plundering and killing, and threatening to continue their depredations. Immediately after the affair in Box Elder Canon some Indians drove off quite a number of cattle and horses from the settlers in Cache Valley, so that up to the present it certainly is evident that the lives and property of both travelers and citizens would have been far better protected and preserved had the detachments remained in Camp Floyd. And in Camp Floyd, as a general course so far as I can learn, aside from camp duty and drill and the riotous assault upon Fort Cedar on the 15th of August last, very many mostly occupy their time in making particularly free comments upon the people of Utah and plotting their injury. In short almost every line of the history of the "Expedition to Utah" from its inception to now, definitely proves a standing army in a republican government in time of peace to be a very great nuisance and seriously endangering the liberties of our common country.

Dr. Forney, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, in the official course he has seen proper to take, is another cause of the hostile feeling and attitude of many of the Indians who are now somewhat troublesome and the trouble and disaffection must increase unless wiser measures are adopted. The Superintendent, I am reliably told, visits tribes, holds talks, and makes great promises which he by no means fulfills. Such a course, you are aware, must of necessity fire the Indians, engender distrust and disappointment, and naturally result in the loss of property and life. The conduct of many of the emigrants towards the Indians is also very unwise, and between the troops, the Superintendent, and the emigrants, there is great prospect that many emigrants will fare badly.

I am sorry that district Attorney Wilson makes use of liquor altogether too freely for his own good, and much to the annoyance of the kind feelings of his amiable and excellent wife. I am informed that he has expended upwards of $4000, since his marriage, and that now, after disposing of several articles, he is unable to pay his board bill and other indebtedness contracted here. These matters I much regret, for his official conduct has been very upright and honorable, as also his private walk, with the exception named. The Hon. W.H. Hooper, with his characteristic liberality, has kindly furnished a carriage, team, driver, &c. for the comfortable conveyance of Gen. Wilson and wife to the Frontiers, from which point he purposes if necessary, to defray their expenses to the home of Mrs. Wilson, or to Washington, or both, as they may choose, I am in hopes that the rest of the officials will have means enough of their own to enable them to leave the Territory. Gen. Wilson does not appear to be fortunately adapted to succeed in a new country, and will with difficulty meet the ordinary expectations of his profession in an old one, though he will probably succeed the best, if any where, in a region last specified. The company expect to start on the 20th inst., and Gen Wilson and lady leave with my wishes for their success and best welfare, for Mrs. Wilson, so far as I can learn, has demeaned herself worthy the character of an industrious, intelligent, wholesouled woman, and the Gen. is his own worst enemy.

His Excellency, the Governor, preserves his habits of good living and drinking, and also continues in that consistent, straight forward, high minded official administration which characterized his entrance into our city, which prevents his making those ridiculous blunders, to use a mild term, which so often mark the course of Government appointees in Utah; although he suffers himself to be intruded upon in his official capacity in defending the rights of the people, but you are familiar with his peculiarities. It is certainly to be desired that all officers would conduct in their respective offices with the propriety, integrity, and regard for the rights of all that have been manifested by Gov. Cumming and Gen. Wilson.

Judge Sinclair began an adjourned term of his court in this city on monday, the 12th, and is using good diligence in the trial of the few criminal cases on the record, and is said to exhibit an unusual courtesey in this demeanor and remarks. You will learn particulars of Court proceedings, in this and Judge Eckles' District, from the reports published in the 'News' and Mountaineer,' of which you will receive files per hands of our Delegate.

The Judges, with most of the army to help them, from the beginning, all the time, except the few days of Judge Sinclair's adjourned term now in progress, have constantly striven to find plausible pretexts for entrapping the innocent, caring not a groat for the apprehension and punishment of the really guilty, as Gov. Cumming has plainly seen and told to some of them. On the strength of such support, and with the general understanding that such things are winked at if not sustained by our Government, drunkards, gamblers, and whoremasters swagger in our streets, spewing forth their vileness; prostitutes begin to show their brazen faces and barter their bodies upon our walks in open day; and officers and soldiers in Camp Floyd occupy their leisure from drill, camp duty, gambling, drinking, and low debauchery, in pouring forth threats, vile slanders, and outrageous tongue abuse concerning American citizens "in the peaceful pursuit of their avocations," notwithstanding the promises of the Peace Commissioners, and Gen. Johnston's empty sounding Proclamation "To the people of Utah," June 14. 1858. Colonel, how long do you think Brigham and I can endure such rascally treatment and practices? And if the Judges, with the exception of Sinclair's course during this week, conduct as they have, and President Buchanan and the powers that be, who claim the right, will not abate the evil how long will it be ere the principles of a righteous self-defence will compel us to pick up those Judges and send them outside our borders where they belong? Hunting the innocent and setting traps for their feet, while the guilty roam at will, must and will find a limit, regardless of how many Christians it may offend.

The army is encamped close by Fairfield, is distant only five miles from Fort Cedar and securely sheltered from Indian aggressions by being nearly surrounded by our settlements, affording, in its position, no protection to travelers, but operating to demoralize the nearer settlements and to encourage demoralization in those more remote and to foment and sustain principles and practices contrary to good order. Except upon the supposition of great ignorance, or the most bitter enmity mixed, in many, with a reckless selfishness, it is really difficult to account for any army's being sent to Utah, and then encamped [-] within the protection of her settlements. And it is still more difficult to account for troops being kept in Utah to stir up the Indians, imbitter feelings by a continual tirade of unjust and outrageous remarks, watch and foment every the remotest pretext for embroiling the citizens and Government, and encourage and protect every species of theft, lawlessness, drunkenness, corruption and debauchery, unless it be upon the untenable grounds of gratifying an entirely mistaken national pride, and the cupidity of a few speculators, contractors, and plunderers of the public treasury. How long must these things be? Until the mountains and plains are filled with strong and daring bands of highway robbers, and travelers upon the great thoroughfares across our Continent dare not and cannot pass? Taunts slander, and foully unjust hunting and hounding by those who are enlisted, paid, and sworn to protect our rights can not and will not be endured forever, and it behooves those in power to bestir themselves and take immediate steps for equally guarding the rights of all, irrespective of sect, creed, or party. Right must supplant wrong, both in principle and practice, throughout Utah, throughout our Nation, and throughout the world.

I take the liberty to recommend and commend the Hon. W.H. Hooper, the bearer of this letter, to your kind notice, and also to ask for him your wise counsel in all matters upon which he may wish to consult you, assured that your active spirit and comprehensive experience will find their gratifying scope in thus assisting to secure and perpetuate those acts and principles tending to ameliorate the condition of human beings. With the harmonious and able efforts of our friends Col. Thomas L. Kane, W.H. Hooper and George Q. Cannon, I can but feel that our interests and rights in the States and in Congress will be in very responsible and efficient keeping, and opposition to justice must be strong indeed if some of the official and army evils under which we suffer are not ere long abated.

Our two merchandize trains and nearly all of our this years immigration have arrived. the mdz in good condition, and the people in good health and spirits. Contrary to many howling statements in newspapers, only about 200 have left while some 2000 have arrived during the season; and many of those who have left already wish themselves back.

Pres. Kimball is about starting an oil factory, and Pres Wells has taken in hand the two nail machines just imported, while others are busily engaged either in running or preparing to run the sugar mills brought in by our train, all tending to give varied employment and keep our money at home, from which you perceive we are not particularly slack in our efforts for developing our skill, capital, and other resources.

I hope you have found our highly esteemed friend, George Q. Cannon, a gentlemanly and able assistant under your counsel, and trust that you will have no occasion for disappointment on his behalf.

My health, that of my family, and of the people generally, is good. Presidents Kimball and Wells and your many sincere friends in Utah bespeak, or would were they all present, the kindest remembrance to you, and you need not an assurance that yourself, your most estimable wife, your dear children, your mother, brothers and friends ever enjoy the best wishes for your welfare of

Most truly your Friend

Brigham Young

P.S. The opportunity for trusty conveyance is so rare that I have written frankly and somewhat lengthy, and cheerfully confide this letter to your prudent and honorable discretion, it being written for your eyes alone.