1855 January 31 Letter to John M. Bernisel


1855 January 31 Letter to John M. Bernisel


The east mail is not being received due to Indian affairs therefore Brigham sends a follow up letter. He details money owed by the Treasury Department for Indian Affairs and counsels Bernhisel to assure Government representatives that preserving peace with the Indians would be much less expensive than war and hence they should pay the expenses. If they refuse, Brigham would rather never receive a dime than have them interfere in the humane policy that has resulted in peace. Brigham explains that the appropriations for the military road south is only enough for a few bridges and asks Bernhisel to accommodate the purchase of a steam engine. A detailed balance on the State House is included.


Indian Affairs


Brigham Young


John M. Bernhisel


1855 January 31


Great Salt Lake City

Number of Pages



Indian Affairs

Item sets

G. S. L. City Jany 31st I855

Hon. J. M. Bernhisel,

Dear Brother,
Your note of November by way of California arrived on the 27th inst. You have probably, long before this, received all the papers, accounts, and documents necessary for the full and complete settlement at the Treasury of the Twenty Thousand dollars, as they have been regularly forwarded to you.

The Legislature adjourned on the 19th inst. to meet hereafter in Fillmore City, in the New State House. I find a balance of $19,890.19, due me on abstracts forwarded to the Department up to Decr. 31st 1854. having only received from the Department $5335. on a/c of Indian affairs for nearly two years.

The Drafts for the suppression of Indian hostilities in 51 & 52 for which an appropriation was made, have never been received. We presume that the hostility of the Indians on the roads prevents the mail from the east coming through, if indeed they have attempted it, as there is no other obstruction; the snow has not yet fallen deep enough to hinder the passages to Green River; the last Mail was carried that far out by John Y. Green expecting to meet it from the east, and returned without hearing anything from it. You perceive therefore, that we are without advices from you since the Meeting of Congress. The California mail comes quite regularly now, as also does Adams & Cos. Express which has been extended to this place from California.

The weather is remarkably mild, so much so, that Masonry work was resumed upon the Temple Block laying the Temple foundation last week, having only been suspended on account of the weather about a month.

The Endowment House on the Temple Block is nearly finished , and the extensive Sugar Manufactory at Kanyon Creek has just commenced operations.

Col. Steptoe has been appointed to disburse the appropriation for the Military Road South, and has let some Contracts for Bridges &c to be completed at an early day. The appropriation will hardly make a good wagon road to the California line. The Col. has therefor very properly considered to expend this appropriation in detached parcels, principally making bridges, &c; among the rest Provo is to be bridged. We are, and will be somewhat embarrassed in consequence of not receiving anything from the Department. We expect that you will be able to meet a few drafts, but would rather not draw upon you without advices.

I have sent to St Louis for a small steam Engine, which I intend putting in operation upon the Lake, and if you can find it in your power to accommodate that purchase, it would be quite an accommodation. Bro has been instructed to make the purchase, and you. Carson County has been organized and the Hon. George P. Stiles, associate Justice, assigned to that district, and Bro Orson Hyde elected Judge of Probate.

We have peace with all the Indians in the Territory at present. It would seem after all the experience that the Indian Department have, or ought to have, that they would understand without so much explanation, that to preserve peace in an Indian country is much less expensive than war, and be willing inasmuch as it is appropriated to pay the actual expenses. This by feeding and clothing them continually, that we have so far been able to keep them quiet, or make them friends when they have been hostile. We have found it much the best plan, and have even upon that principle avoided every unnecessary expense, yet it seems impossible for the Department to feel satisfied, or willing to pay these just claims, although they must be, and are satisfied with the policy which I have practiced toward the Indians.

Col. Manypenny exhibits an unaccountable enmity towards me for some cause unknown to me but probably he has been drawn into it through Holeman and the statement of Guthrie. Perhaps if you would go to the head of the Department, or even the President, and fairly represent our views & policy & practice in regard to these Indians, there might be a different influence extended toward me. If they could know, and appreciate faithful labor, and judicious expenditures they would most assuredly feel satisfied with my doings as Superintendent of Indian Affairs in this Territory, but this seems a hopeless task, they will not if they can understand fair dealing, and common honesty, and therefore reject, and suspend fair, and honest demands already expended, which bills I have to pay; this embarrasses me, and is altogether wrong in the Department, and is, what I have a right to complain of. I honestly think if my claims smacked of corruption, and one half or two thirds dishonestly trumped up out of nothing at all I would have less difficulty in getting them allowed, but it matters not, I would rather never receive a dime, than suffer their interference in the policy which I have adopted towards the Indians, because it is humane policy, and one which must necessarily redound to their advantage as well as to the advantage of the settlements in the continuance of that so desirable blessing-- peace.

The balance on the State House already expended as you will see by the abstract forwarded to you over and above the appropriation amounting to
$ 6,902.53
The amt of abstracts as herein before mentioned 19,890.19
Amount in your hands on a/c of Code Commission
which has been advanced by me 2.428.10
Amount of Heywood's draft as Marshal 1,595.47

Amount of Salary &c about 2,000.00
Making a which I should have 32,816.79
With the exception of what is expended on the
State house over the appropriation of
add to this amount the appropriation for the
suppression of Indian hostilities, a large
portion of which I have paid, and on the other accounts
which have not been appropriated have advanced
far more than enough to cover the whole 20,240.65
$ 53,756.94

You must know that our resources are not quite ample to sustain so large a deficiency without more or less embarrassment.

In addition to the foregoing, there is a large amount of Public Printing which has been done by the Territory, and which Mr. Ferris referred to the Department, and has not since been heard from, but I forbear, as time and space are too limited to recount all the down right meanness which the various Departments have meted unto us; They seem to stand in no fear of having the same measure meted unto them again, and perhaps they may not, they may escape, time will show, and disclose many very curious things on the day of settlement.

I expect that you will be here, before you will be able to receive another letter from me, and Congress will probably be adjourned before you receive this, I can therefore only say, do the best you can for us with the various Departments, and come home as soon as it is practicable for you to cross the plains. I shall welcome you again with heartfelt gratitude for your preservation to our Mountain home. which I doubt not will be as grateful to you, after so long, and tedious a mission. Come safely, that is with plenty of escort, as I doubt not there will be plenty of Company jogging this way early in the spring.

We have vague Reports of a New Governor being appointed, Troops coming here to locate, &c, but nothing definite, or reliable.

We have heard nothing from Col. Kane, but trust that he will accompany you home. Give my respects to him, as also to all other who deem it worth while to enquire after me.

With unalterable regards, and prayers for your welfare, and prosperity.
I Remain Your Friend & Brother in the Gospel.

Brigham Young