“Mormonism—Disgusted 'Saints.'” New York Daily Times, 5 Aug. 1857.
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Correspondence of the Cincinnati Times
We have another arrival from Mormondom. An emigrant train, containing a large umber of women and children—one hundred persons in all—had just reached this city, after a wearisome journey of sixty days. The train consisted of fifteen teams, and brought through a large and valuable collection of beaver and buffalo furs. In spite of the extremely hot weather of the last few weeks, the party arrived in excellent health, the women and children especially bearing the fatigue better than the men.
The members of this company are, or rather were, professors of the Mormon faith, but they fled from the holy land, partly to escape form the relentless tyranny of the Brigham Young oligarchy, and partly to improve their pecuniary affairs. When they left, there was great dissatisfaction among the Saints, and about a thousand persons abandoned Utah at the same time. Several trains departed for the States, and nearly four hundred started for Oregon. It was with difficulty that they escaped, and many threats were made the violence would be committed upon them if they attempted to leave the country,[.] The large number of those who left is believed to have been their protection.
The emigrants are heartily sick of the Mormon religion and all the attendant institutions. They state that the members of the church, (embracing almost the entire adult population of the Territory,) have on an average about three wives apiece. A poor man, they think, has no possible chance to succeed in Utah. With decidedly strong prospects of having a large family to support, he is compelled to devote the entire labor of every tenth day to the church, and to pay heavy taxes besides. Some of them state that they were called upon to pay tithes before they had been in Salt Lake City a week. There are many who would gladly renounce the BRIGHAM YOUNG tyranny and flee from the Territory; but after the “endowment” (a certain step in the church,) has been taken, the subject of it cannot leave, unless he has the permission of the spiritual authorities, without placing his life in the most imminent peril. Large numbers of unfortunate women who were lured into Utah by appealing to their religious enthusiasm, and grossly misrepresenting the actual state of affairs, are thoroughly disgusted with the practical workings of what was so beautiful in theory, but have no means of escaping from their hard lot.
The disaffected, however, (according to my informants who come by this train,) by no means comprise the whole, or even a majority of the people of Utah. Thousands of men have such deep seated faith in BRIGHAM YOUNG, that they would cheerfully fight for him to the last drop of blood. Many women, too, with a firm persuasion that his mission is from heaven, are attached to him with a most fanatical devotion, and would not hesitate to lay down their lives for him. In Great Salt Lake City the people are well armed, and have thirty pieces of artillery. In many of their localities, the male saints are armed and disciplined. These emigrants confirm the various reports that the population of Utah has been greatly exaggerated. They think 40,000 a liberal estimate, and state that Salt Lake City has not more than 7,000 inhabitants.
“Every nation, kindred and people” is represented among the Saints. It is evident that if BRIGHAM YOUNG desire it, he can give Gen. HARNEY and his troops a good deal of trouble for a time, but it seems hardly possible that a man of so much shrewdness would array himself against the United States troops.
The emigrants think Utah capable of being made one of the finest agricultural portions of the Continent, but they have no faith in the ability of its present population to develop it. The absence of rain renders systematic irrigation necessary, but the numerous mountain streams are said to afford very good facilities for the accomplishment of that object. When this train left there were many complaints of a worm at the roots of the young wheat. It was feared that the crop would be entirely destroyed, and the scarcity—almost starvation—of last Winter again occur. The returning emigrants propose to settle at some point in Kansas, where all men who are willing to work have a fair chance and where their children will be free from the degrading influence of polygamy and some other patriarchal institutions.