1862 January 4 Letter to John M. Bernhisel


1862 January 4 Letter to John M. Bernhisel


The Government claims ownership of all Utah land, therefore, the land is not taxable. Brigham makes suggestions to replace direct tax. Governor Dawson was attacked by his escorts. A Utah Constitution will be created in order to apply for Statehood.




Brigham Young


John M. Bernhisel


1862 January 4


Great Salt Lake City
Washington City, D. C.

Number of Pages



Financial Matters

Item sets

Great Salt Lake City, Jan 4th 1862

Hon. John M. Berhnisel, M. C.
Washington City, D. C.

Dear Brother:
Since my last to you, Dec 30, I have the gratification to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of Dec 12 and 16.

So far as concerns the portion of the direct tax assigned to Utah, we can but presume that Congress in the haste incident to the transaction of business during so much excitement as prevailed at the time of its late special session, over looked the fact that the Government claims to own all the land in this Territory, and that on that account all lands therein were exempted from taxation by the very Act providing for said tax. And if the land upon which improvements are made is not taxable, upon what principle of law can you tax said improvements? The Legislative Assembly have the direct tax under consideration, but as yet without definite action, which it appears somewhat puzzling to arrive at, since there is no real estate in the Territory to assess and if the tax is assumed and assessed upon other property made taxable only by Territorial laws, the owners thereof may refuse payment under the plea that the property is not taxable under the law which instituted the tax.

Your suggestion relative to the Assembly's petitioning Congress to so amend the tax law as to release Utah from the direct tax and take, in liew of our quota of said tax, the sum annually appropriated by Congress to defray Legislative expenses in this Territory, will probably meet the approbation of the Assembly, and I presume they will at an early day petition in accordance therewith, less the actual expenses of the present session, which will probably not much if any exceed $8,000; but arrangements have doubtless already been made predicated upon the payment here of something like the aforesaid portion of the appropriation. The amount still due from Utah, less what may remain of the appropriation after the expenses of the present session are paid, can probably be arranged in some manner satisfactory to both parties, when in future the full $20,000 can be retained as credit on our quota of direct tax.

Gov. Dawson left for the east by stage on the afternoon of the 31st Ult., accompanied by several desperadoes, asserted by some to have been hired by him as an escort, who, it is reported, with the stage driver assaulted the Governor at the mail station, between the Big and Little Mountains, and struck and kicked him quite severely; I am to-day informed that he has proceeded on his journey. The motives of the assailants for so brutal and cowardly an assault are unknown to me, unless one of them was actuated by revenge for the Governors insult to Mrs Williams, one of whose daughters it is said he is courting.

Ex-Superintendent Martin and Judge Crosby intended to have accompanied the Governor, but it is rumored that Crosby defers his departure through want of funds to pay his indebtedness, the receipt of which he is said to be daily expecting. As I advised you on the 30th Ult., on the 6th inst. mass meetings throughout the Territory will elect Delegates to the Convention, which is to meet in this City on the 20th inst. and take all necessary steps to apply, under a new date, for the admission of Utah into the Union, and if the Government know who their friends are and what their true interests in regard to Utah are, they will at once, upon the presentation of our memorial and constitution, admit us as one of the family of states.

Yesterday the Telegraph office in this city began to communicate directly with Chicago, which gives us Washington news as soon as it is received in St Louis, which is esteemed as a great favor by the community at large, I mention that you may bear in mind how quickly we can correspond upon any important point requiring prompt action. Great "courtesy" is by no means a certain indication of true friendship, nor that good acts may reliably be expected to follow, "A word to the wise" &c.,

Please accept my thanks for the package of dwarf sugar cane seed from France, which came to hand this morning.
So far as I know, your family are well as are also your friends and the people generally.

May God bless and direct you.

Your Brother in the Gospel.

Brigham Young