Quotes on Freedom, America, Constitution, Liberty, Etc…
It was through and by the power of God, that the fathers of this country framed the Declaration of Independence, and also that great palladium of human rights, the Constitution of the United States. There is nothing of a bigoted, narrow-contracted feeling about that instrument; it is broad and comprehensive.
The powers of the government and the rights and privileges of the citizen are regulated and plainly defined by the Constitution itself, and when a Territory becomes a part of the United States, the Federal Government enters into possession in the character impressed upon it by those who created it. It enters upon it with its powers over the citizen strictly defined and limited by the Constitution from which it derives its own existence, and by virtue of which alone it continues to exist as a government and sovereignty. It has no power of any kind beyond it, and it cannot when it enters a Territory of the United States put off its character, and assume discretionary or despotic powers which the Constitution has denied to it. It cannot create for itself a new character separate from the citizens of the United States, and the duties it owes to them under the provisions of the Constitution.
We wish it fully understood by the Saints and by all the world that we have a profound respect for all wholesome and constitutional laws.
We will rally around the flag of our country and maintain the glorious Constitution for weal or woe.
It would appear that we have reached that era in our history, so long foretold, when the Constitution of the United States would hang by a single thread, and the Elders of Israel alone would contend for its preservation.
The preamble of the Constitution of the United States assigns as reasons why it was framed: “To form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Most excellent reasons for framing such a charter of liberty, and every officer who acts under it should keep these objects in view. But many of the officers sent here have acted as though they were determined that none of these blessings for which the Constitution was framed should reach us.
Completely enveloping it [the question of polygamy], has been the design to destroy our rights as citizens, to take away from us our liberties under the Constitution and the laws, and to obtain the political control of our country.
Do not permit any of these abuses with which we have to cope, to tempt you to retaliate in kind, or to violate any Constitutional law of the land. You will remember that Joseph Smith has said that that sacred instrument was given by inspiration of God, and it becomes our bounden duty to sustain it in all its provisions. . . .
During the lifetime of the Prophet Joseph Smith he predicted that the time would come when it would devolve upon the Latter-day Saints to uplift, defend and maintain the Constitution of the United States. Recent events in our Territory have given great significance to this prediction, and have brought it forcibly to the minds of all who have heard concerning it. These events appear to be forcing us into the exact position so plainly described by the Prophet through the spirit of prophecy. Attempts are now being made to destroy our rights under the Constitution, and to effect this, that instrument — which the Prophet Joseph Smith said was given by inspiration of God — is being trampled upon by those who should be its administrators and guardians. This compels us to contend for constitutional principles. We must uphold them to the best of our ability. An attack has been made upon our religion, and it appears to be determined that we shall either abandon it or be visited with the most severe pains and penalties. Under the cover of this attack upon the principle of patriarchal marriage, we are denied the most of the rights which belong to freemen, and which our ancestors enjoyed for ages before even they were enunciated in writing in the Constitution of the United States. For proof of this we need but refer to our right to be tried only by a jury of our peers — a right which men of our race have enjoyed from the most remote times. Our religion is made the pretext for this deprivation of rights, and for bitter threats against the few remaining liberties which we possess. To preserve these liberties, and to regain the rights of which we are already unjustly deprived, we must contend earnestly, manfully, legally and constitutionally.
. . . We have rights under the Constitution, and however much these may be denied to us, it is still our bounden duty to contend for them, not only in behalf of ourselves, but for all our fellow citizens and for our posterity, and for humanity generally throughout the world. Were we to do less than this, we would fail in performing the mission assigned to us, and be recreant to the high trust which God has reposed in us. . . .
. . . And while we at present are in circumstances that are painful, and that have been brought about by the action of inconsiderate, unreflecting and, in many instances, wicked and unscrupulous men, some of whom are officials, yet we have never felt like wavering in our fidelity to our government, nor like ignoring the principles of equal rights guaranteed by that sacred palladium of human liberty—the Constitution of the United States. . . .
We repeat, that we desire that all men should be aware of the fact that we have been the upholders of the Constitution and laws enacted in pursuance of that sacred instrument. We still entertain the same patriotic disposition, and propose to continue acting in conformity with it to the last. Neither have we any desire to come in active conflict even with statutes that we deem opposed to the Constitution both in letter and spirit. . . . Were we to make such a surrender, our conduct in that respect would not be in harmony with the guaranties [sic] of the Constitution, which we are in duty bound to uphold.
And while other men are seeking to trample the Constitution under foot, we will try to maintain it. We have prophecies something like this somewhere; that the time would come when this nation would do as they are now doing — that is, they would trample under foot the constitution and institutions of the nation, and the Elders of this Church would rally around the standard and maintain those principles which were introduced for the freedom and protection of men. We expect to do that, and to maintain all correct principle. I will tell you what you will see by and by. You will see trouble, trouble, trouble enough in these United States. . . . But let us be on the side of human liberty and human rights, and the protection of all correct principles and laws and government, and maintain every principle that is upright and virtuous and honorable, and let the world take the balance if they want, we don’t want it. We will cleave to the truth, God being our helper, and try to introduce principles whereby the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And we will obey every institution of man for the Lord’s sake so far as we can without violating our consciences and doing things that are wrong and improper.
But we now have test oaths introduced, which is another violation of the Constitution and by which an attempt is being made to hold all men guilty until they prove themselves innocent.
. . . Another portion of the Constitution must be broken to introduce a test oath without any authority [US Const. Art. VI]. . . .
Well, what would you do? Observe the laws as much as you can. Bear with these indignities as much as you can.
When this infamous Edmunds law was passed, I saw that there were features in that which were contrary to law, violative of the Constitution, contrary to justice and the rights and the freedom of men.
The Constitution expressly says that no law shall be passed impairing the obligation of contracts. But we have entered into covenants and contracts in our most sacred places. . . . I have never broken any law of these United States. . . .
Well, what will you do? I will obey every Constitutional law so far as God gives me ability.
Am I to disobey the law of God? Has any man a right to control my conscience, or your conscience, or to tell me I shall believe this or believe the other, or reject this or reject the other? No man has a right to do it. These principles are sacred, and the forefathers of this nation felt so and so proclaimed it in the Constitution of the United States, and said “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” [US Const. Amend. I].
By and by, you will find they will tear the Constitution to shreads, as they have begun now; they won’t have to begin; they have started long ago to rend the Constitution of our country in pieces; and in doing so they are letting loose and encouraging a principle which will re-act upon themselves with terrible consequences; for if law-makers and administrators can afford to trample upon justice, equity, and the Constitution of this country, they will find thousands and tens of thousands who are willing to follow in their wake in the demolition of the rights of man, and the destruction of all principles of justice, and the safeguards of the nation; but we will stand by and maintain its principles and the rights of all men of every color, and every clime; we will cleave to the truth, live our religion and keep the commandments of God, and God will bless us in time and throughout the eternities that are to come.
We will do right, we will treat all men right, and we will maintain every institution of our country that is according to the Constitution of the United States, and the laws thereof, and we will sustain them.
We Latter-day Saints — what are we? Professors of religion. Are we? Yes. There are laws being enacted in order to deprive us of our religious rights, whereas the Constitution of the United States says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [US Const. Amend. I]. Is that true? Read it for yourselves in the Constitution. This is what we profess as Americans. We have men in our midst who have introduced test oaths, whereas the Constitution says, that “no religious test shall ever be required” [US Const. Art. VI]; yet they have introduced test-oaths, and people are obliged to swear certain things that the Constitution says shall not be permitted. Are we American citizens here? I think so. Have we any rights? I think we ought to have. Are they being trampled upon? Yes, they are; and these things are being done with impunity. How is it? Why, the Constitution is treated by the politicians of to-day as the Bible is treated by professors of religion. . . . As I have said, the Constitution provides that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .
. . . At the time when the Edmunds law was passed I was living in what is known as the Gardo House. I had most of my wives living with me there, and after looking carefully over the Edmunds law I thought to myself, why Congress is growing very wild; this Government is getting very, very foolish; they are trampling upon Constitutional rights. No matter, I said, I will obey this law. . . . “[W]e shall stand up for our rights and protect ourselves in every proper way, legally and constitutionally, and dispute inch by inch every step that is taken to deprive us of our rights and liberties.” And we will do this in the way that I speak of. We are doing it to-day; and as you have heard it expressed on other occasions, it looks very much like as though the time was drawing near when this country will tumble to pieces; for if the people of this nation are so blind and infatuated as to trample under foot the Constitution and other safeguards provided for the liberties of man, we do not propose to assist them in their suicidal and traitorous enterprises; for we have been told by Joseph Smith that when the people of this nation would trample upon the Constitution, the Elders of this Church would rally round the flag and defend it. And it may come to that; we may be nearer to it than some of us think, for the people are not very zealous in the protection of human rights. And when legislators, governors and judges unite in seeking to tear down the temple of liberty and destroy the bulwarks of human freedom, it will be seen by all lovers of liberty, that they are playing a hazardous game and endangering the perpetuity of human rights. For it will not take long for the unthinking to follow their lead, and they may let loose an element that they never can bind again.
If we have got farms, or city lots, or inheritances of any kind, we have paid for them according to the laws of the United States. We have complied with all the requisitions of the United States that are constitutional, and mean to do that all the time.
It is said in the Doctrine and Covenants, that he that keepeth the laws of God, hath no need to break the laws of the land [D&C 58:21]. It is further explained in section 98 [D&C 98], what is meant in relation to this. That all laws which are constitutional must be obeyed, as follows:
“And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.
“And that the law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me;
“Therefore I the Lord justify you and your brethren of the Church in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land. And as pertaining to laws of man, whatsoever is more or less than these cometh of evil” [D&C 98:4–7].
That is taking this nation as an example, all laws that are proper and correct, and all obligations entered into which are not violative of the constitution should be kept inviolate. But if they are violative of the constitution, then the compact between the rulers and the ruled is broken and the obligation ceases to be binding. Just as a person agreeing to purchase anything and to pay a certain amount for it, if he receives the article bargained for, and does not pay its price, he violates his contract; but if he does not receive the article he is not required to pay for it.
In our government, whether in a National, State, or Territorial form, all officers, of every grade, are requested to take a solemn oath to sustain and maintain the constitution of the United States, and of the State, or if a Territory, the organic act of the Territory as the case may be. If these things are not a fiction all these officers and authorities throughout the land in every department of Nation, State or Territorial government, are as much bound by their obligations and oaths as the people are bound to be subject to all constitutional laws, and the people are not one whit more bound to the observance of the law than these men are bound to the observance of the sacred and solemn covenants which they have entered into. And if the people have given up to governors, legislatures, the judiciary and to the officers of the law certain powers, rights and privileges, this authority coming of or from the people, it is expected that they shall act for and in the interests of the people; and furthermore, that while they possess those rights ceded to them by the people, whatever is not thus ceded and placed in the hands of their rulers is emphatically stated to be reserved to the several States or to the people. . . . But it must be understood here in matters pertaining to our government, that no charters or grants of any kind can be given by any parties, in excess of the rights which they themselves possess, and that the same obligations which vest in regard to constitutional rights and guarantees must be observed in all those municipal regulations by the recipients as of the grantees of those charters.
These rights and privileges in our government are formulated upon the idea that our government is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
They came to Utah not, as alleged, to erect an establishment of religion contrary to the Constitution and laws, but to found a State where all sects would have equal rights to worship God according to the dictates of the consciences of their members, which right the Latter-day Saints had been denied in Missouri and Illinois.
Many persons suppose that there is some provision in the United States Constitution touching this subject. This is an error. The Constitution leaves all matters relating to marriage to be regulated by the people of the various States; and hence it is that so many diversified marriage and divorce codes exist throughout the country.
If our Constitution, our laws, and the fundamental principles of our Government are to be trampled underfoot, it would seem to be high time that all honorable men should stand up in defense of liberty and the rights of man.
We are charged with being a menace to the United States, with being inimical to the Constitution and Government, simply because we have undertaken to legitimately and legally test in the courts, as we have the most perfect right to do, the legality and constitutionality of the law and the commissioners’ rulings.
[The wicked] are laying the axe at the root of this government, and unless they speedily turn round and repent and follow the principles they have sworn to sustain—the principles contained in the Constitution of the United States — they will be overthrown, they will be split up and divided, be disintegrated and become weak as water; for the Lord will handle them in his own way. I say these things in sorrow; but as sure as God lives unless there is a change of policy these things will most assuredly take place.
It may not be among the improbabilities, that the prophecies of Joseph Smith may be fulfilled and that the calumniated and despised Mormons may yet become the protectors of the Constitution and the guardians of religious liberty and human freedom in these United States.
They are described in the Declaration of Independence as inalienable rights, one of which is that men have a right to live; another is that they have a right to pursue happiness; and another is that they have a right to be free and no man has authority to deprive them of those God-given rights, and none but tyrants would do it. These principles I say, are inalienable in man; they belong to him; they existed before any constitutions were framed or any laws made. Men have in various ages striven to strip their fellowmen of these rights, and dispossess them of them. And hence the wars, the bloodshed and carnage that have spread over the earth. We therefore are not indebted to the United States for these rights; we were free as men born into the world, having the right to do as we please, to act as we please, as long as we do not transgress constitutional law nor violate the rights of others.
As politicians or statesmen they must at least give us the benefit of the Constitution and laws.
Our counsel, then, is to the Latter-day Saints who can truthfully take this oath, there is no reason that we know of in the Gospel, or in any of the revelations of God, which prevents you from doing so. You owe it to yourselves; you owe it to your posterity; you owe it to those of your co-religionists who, by this law, are robbed worse than even many of yourselves, of their rights under the Constitution; you owe it to humanity everywhere; you owe it to that free and constitutional form of government, which has been bequeathed to you through the precious sacrifices of many of your forefathers — to do all in your power to maintain religious liberty and free, republican government in these mountains, and to preserve every constitutional right intact, and not to allow, either through supineness or indifference, or any feeling of resentment or indignation because of wrongs inflicted upon you, any right or privilege to be wrested from you. . . . Then having done this, and everything else in your power to preserve constitutional government and full religious freedom in the land, you can safely trust the Lord for the rest. He has promised to fight your battles. . . .
Let us guard well our franchise, and in one unbroken phalanx, maintain and sustain our political status, and, as patriots and the freemen, operate together, in the defence of what few liberties are left us, in the defence of the Constitution, and in the defence of the inalienable rights of man; which rights always exist and are before and above all constitutions, and thus perpetuate to posterity the inestimable blessings of freedom, including the right to live, the right to be free, and the right to pursue happiness, unmolested by any influence, power, or combination.
What course shall we pursue? We purpose to contend for human rights, for the Constitution of the United States, and for the rights and privileges of man and the freedom of humanity. We will try to live our religion and keep the commandments of God. We will put in a word for the liberty of man, equal rights and constitutional principles, and these we will maintain so far as God gives us power. When we have done that we will live our religion; we will cleave unto God and unto truth, maintain virtue, purity and righteousness, and seek for the Spirit of the Lord; we will be humble, faithful and diligent, and we will pray for our enemies and for all men.
If other people can afford to trample under foot the sacred institutions of this country, we cannot. And if other people trample upon the Constitution and pull it to pieces, we will gather together the pieces and rally around the old flag, or what is left of it, and proclaim liberty to the world, as Joseph Smith said we would. Is that treason? I do not know; no matter, it is true. Are we going to hurt anybody? No.
Concerning the course taken by the United States, they have a right to reject this law [law of Celestial Marriage] themselves, as they have a right to reject the Gospel; but it is contrary to the provisions of the constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, for them to prohibit you from obeying it.
Therefore, abide in my law which I have revealed unto you, saith the Lord God, and contend for your rights by every legal and constitutional method and in accordance with the institutions, laws, and Constitution of the United States.
We will stand by our covenants, and the Constitution will bear us out in it. Among other things, that instrument says that Congress shall make no law impairing the validity of contracts. You have contracted to be united with your wives in time and in eternity, and it would not do for us to break a constitutional law, would it?
Now, what will we do in our relations with the United States? We will observe the law as we have done, and be as faithful as we have been. We will maintain our principles and live our religion and keep the commandments of God, and obey every constitutional law, pursuing that course that shall direct us in all things.
But what I admired in those Senators and Members was their fealty to the government, to the Constitution and the maintenance of the freedom and the inalienable rights of man, of every color, creed and profession.
We have no fault to find with our government. We deem it the best in the world. But we have reason to deplore its malad-ministration, and I call upon our legislators, our governors and president to pause in their career and not to tamper with the rights and liberties of American citizens, nor wantonly tear down the bulwarks of American and human liberty. God has given to us glorious institutions; let us preserve them intact and not pander to the vices, passions and fanaticism of a depraved public opinion. . . .
We do not wish to place ourselves in a state of antagonism, nor act defiantly towards this government. We will fulfill the letter, so far as practicable, of that unjust, inhuman, oppressive and unconstitutional law, so far as we can without violating principle; but we cannot sacrifice every principle of human right at the behest of corrupt, unreasoning and unprincipled men; we cannot violate the highest and noblest principles of human nature and make pariahs and outcasts of high-minded, virtuous and honorable women, nor sacrifice at the shrine of popular clamor the highest and noblest principles of humanity!
We shall abide all constitutional law, as we always have done; but while we are God-fearing and law-abiding, and respect all honorable men and officers, we are no craven serfs, and have not learned to lick the feet of oppressors, nor to bow in base submission to unreasoning clamor. We will contend inch by inch, legally and constitutionally, for our rights as American citizens. . . .We stand proudly erect in the consciousness of our rights as American citizens, and plant ourselves firmly on the sacred guarantees of the Constitution; and that instrument, while it defines the powers and privileges of the President, Congress and the judiciary, also directly provides that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively or to the people” [US Const. Amend. X].
We need have no fears, no trembling in our knees about these attempts to deprive us of our God-given and constitutional liberties. God will take care of His people, if we will only do right.
Besides the preaching of the Gospel, we have another mission, namely, the perpetuation of the free agency of man and the maintenance of liberty, freedom, and the rights of man. There are certain principles that belong to humanity outside of the Constitution, outside of the laws, outside of all the enactments and plans of man, among which is the right to live; God gave us the right and not man; no government gave it to us, and no government has a right to take it away from us. We have a right to liberty—that was a right that God gave to all men; and if there has been oppression, fraud or tyranny in the earth, it has been the result of the wickedness and corruptions of men and has always been opposed to God and the principles of truth, righteousness, virtue, and all principles that are calculated to elevate mankind. The Declaration of Independence states that men are in possession of certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This belongs to us; it belongs to all humanity. I wish, and the worst wish I have for the United States, is, that they could have liberality enough to give to all men equal rights.
Congress will soon have something else to do than to prescribe and persecute an innocent, law-abiding and patriotic people. Of all bodies in the world, they [Congress] can least afford to remove the bulwarks that bind society together in this nation, to recklessly trample upon human freedom and rights, and to rend and destroy that great Palladium of human rights—the Constitution of the United States. Ere long they will need all its protecting influence to save this nation from misrule, anarchy and mobocratic influence. They can ill afford to be the foremost in tampering with human rights and human freedom, or in tearing down the bulwarks of safety and protection which that sacred instrument has guaranteed. It is lamentable to see the various disordered and disorganized elements seeking to overthrow the greatest and best government in existence on the earth. Congress can ill afford to set a pattern of violation of that Constitution which it has sworn to support. The internal fires of revolution are already smoldering in this nation, and they need but a spark to set them in a flame. Already are agencies at work in the land calculated to subvert and overthrow every principle of rule and government; already is corruption of every kind prevailing in high places and permeating all society; already are we, as a nation, departing from our God, and corrupting ourselves with malfeasance, dishonor, and a lack of public integrity and good faith; already are licentiousness and debauchery corrupting, undermining and destroying society; already are we interfering with the laws of nature and stopping the functions of life, and have become the slayers of our own offspring, and employ human butchers in the shape of physicians to assist in this diabolical and murderous work.
Truth ultimately will triumph, as according to the old adage, “Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again.” And what will you do? Contend for constitutional principles, or lie down and let the vicious, the mendacious and unprincipled run over and overslaugh you?
The young people asserted that it had been taught to them by their parents from their youth up, and that the principles of purity, virtue, integrity and loyalty to the government of the United States had been instilled into their minds and hearts since their earliest childhood.
Have we been opposed to the United States? No! no! no! We never have and we are at the defiance of all men to prove anything of the kind. There are falsehoods set afoot by low, degraded, unprincipled men. We believe that the Constitution of the United States was given by inspiration of God. And why? Because it is one of those instruments which proclaims liberty throughout the land, and to all the inhabitants thereof [Lev 25:10]. And it was because of those noble sentiments, and the promulgation of those principles which were given by God to man, we believe that it was given by the inspiration of the Almighty. We have always esteemed it in this light, and it was so declared by Joseph Smith. Did we do any wrong in coming here in the way we did? I think not. Did we transgress any of the laws of the nations we left? I think not. We gathered together simply because we were told there was a Zion to be built up.
Upon passage of the Edmunds’ law, President Taylor declared: “When the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted, those high contracting parties did positively agree that they would not interfere with religious affairs. Now, if our marital relations are not religious, what is? This ordinance of marriage was a direct revelation to us, through Joseph Smith, the prophet. . . . This is a revelation from God and a command to his people, and therefore it is my religion. I do not believe that the Supreme Court of the United States has any right to interfere with my religious views, and in doing it they are violating their most sacred obligations.”
If the rulers of this nation can afford to tamper with the sacred rights of the people guaranteed by the constitution of this great nation, and ruthlessly tear down the temple of freedom erected at the cost of so much blood and treasure, instead of anticipated glory, they will bring destruction upon the nation and ruin and infamy upon themselves. The sacred bulwarks of freedom once tampered with, the floodgates of anarchy and confusion will be thrown open and dissolution and ruin will follow in their train in rapid succession. It is for us to sustain and maintain the principles guaranteed in that sacred palladium of human rights—the Constitution of the United States, and to contend inch by inch in every legal and constitutional manner for our own rights and human freedom, leaving misrule, anarchy, violations of law and the trampling under foot of the rights of man and constitutional guarantees to religious fanatics and clamoring demagogues; and if they can afford to tamper with those sacred guarantees, we certainly can afford to have them do it. It is for us to seek more exalted ideas, to abide by constitutional law, to maintain inviolate the principles of human freedom, and to contend with unwavering firmness for those inalienable rights of all men—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and to seek continually to our God for wisdom to accomplish so great, noble and patriotic a purpose.
But if the professed friends of the nation — those who boast so much about human liberty and Constitutional rights—can afford to root up, override and destroy the principles of that very liberty about which they talk, and trample underfoot the sacred barriers of the Constitution, we can afford to have them do it.
It is for us to maintain those sacred principles enunciated in our Constitution, and not only preserve our own liberties, so far as we can, but also those of our nation and of the world.
There is one thing I wish to speak about here politically. “What do you think about the government of the United States,” so the people say. “What are your opinions?” I will tell you what I think about the Constitution. I have just the same opinion of it that Joseph Smith had, and he said it was given by inspiration of God. The men did not know this who wrote it; the men did not know it who adopted it; nevertheless it is true. There is an embodiment of principles contained therein that are calculated to bless and benefit mankind. “What do you think about the government of the United States as a government? I think it is a good deal ahead of most governments, but I think the administrators are apostatizing very fast from the principles that the fathers of this nation instituted.” It has become quite a question now-a-days, whether men can be preserved in their rights or not, whether men can worship God according to the dictates of their conscience or not, or whether we are living in a land of freedom or not. What is the matter? Why, they are like the religionist. How is it with them? They profess to believe in the Bible. They do believe it shut, but when you open it they deny it. The people of this nation profess to believe in the Constitution. They do until it comes to be applied to the people and then they do not. That is perhaps too broad a saying; but I will say there are many who feel like this—not all by a long way. There are thousands and tens of thousands who are imbued with the same principles as were the framers of the Constitution and who desire to see human freedom perpetuated. The principles of freedom and the love of human liberty have not quite died out of the hearts of all men in these United States. There is a respectable balance in favor of liberty and freedom and equal rights. . . . We would say to men who profess so much loyalty and patriotism to the government, be true to your institutions, be true to the Constitution of the United States, as we say to all our people to be true to the same. We expect the Latter-day Saints to be so, and to be subject to law, to avoid lawlessness of every kind and the interference with men’s rights in any shape.
But all honorable men, all men who do right and maintain the laws and the Constitution of the United States, we are their friends and will sustain them to the last. . . .
We see many signs of weakness which we lament, and we would to God that our rulers would be men of righteousness, and that those who aspire to position would be guided by honorable feelings—to maintain inviolate the Constitution and operate in the interest, happiness, well-being, and protection of the whole community. But we see signs of weakness and vacillation. We see a policy being introduced to listen to the clamor of mobs and of unprincipled men who know not of what they speak, nor whereof they affirm, and when men begin to tear away with impunity one plank after another from our Constitution by and by we shall find that we are struggling with the wreck and ruin of the system which the forefathers of this nation sought to establish in the interests of humanity. But it is for us still to sustain these glorious principles of liberty bequeathed by the founders of this nation, still to rally round the flag of the Union, still to maintain all correct principles, granting the utmost extent of liberty to all people of all grades and of all nations.
But should this nation persist in violating their Constitutional guarantees, tear away the bulwarks of liberty, and trample upon the principles of freedom and human rights, that are sacred to all men, and by which all men should be governed, by and by the whole fabric will fall, and who will sustain it? We will, in the name of Israel’s God. Of this the Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied long, long ago.
Will we oppose the principles of this government? No. We will sustain them. But if people will act foolishly we cannot help it. If this nation can stand the results of the violation of constitutional principles, we can. If they tear down the bulwarks of freedom and with impunity trample underfoot the rights of men we cannot help it. If it is our turn, to-day, to suffer wrong, it will be somebody else’s to-morrow, national retrogressions are not often arrested. It behooves statesmen to pause in their career. The floodgates once opened who shall stay the torrent? We of all men would save the ship of state and would say to these national patricides avaunt [go away]! But if they will act foolishly and continue to do so until they subvert the principles of liberty, and thus destroy one of the best governments ever instituted on earth, then if forsaken by all else, the elders of this Church will rally round the Constitution, lift up the standard of freedom, which is being trodden under foot and bedrabbled by demagogues, and proclaim liberty to the world; equal rights, liberty and equality; freedom of conscience and of worship to all men everywhere. That is not a prophecy of mine; it is a prophecy of Joseph Smith’s, and I believe it very strongly.
We will sustain the government in its administration, and be true to it, and maintain this position right along. And when division, strife, trouble and contention arise, we will try to still the troubled waters, and act in all honesty as true friends to the government; and when war shall exist among them, and there is no one found to sustain the remnants of liberty that may be left, the Elders of Israel will rally round the standard of freedom and proclaim liberty to all the world.
We are under the United States, but the United States is not the kingdom of God. It does not profess to be under his rule, nor his government, nor his authority. Yet we are expected as citizens of the United States to keep the laws of the United States, and hence we are, as I said before, an integral part of the government, [sic] Very well, what is expected of us? That we observe its laws, that we conform to its usages, that we are governed by good and wholesome principles, that we maintain the laws in their integrity and that we sustain the government, and we ought to do it. But there is a principle here that I wish to speak about. God dictates in a great measure the affairs of the nations of the earth, their kingdoms and governments and rulers and those that hold dominion. He sets up one and pulls down another, according to his will. That is an old doctrine, but it is true to-day. Have we governors? Have we a president of the United States? Have we men in authority? Yes. Is it right to traduce their characters? No, it is not. Is it right for us to oppose them? No, it is not. Is it right for them to traduce us? No, it is not. Is it right for them to oppress us in any way? No, it is not. We ought to pray for these people, for those that are in authority, that they may be lead [sic] in the right way, that they may be preserved from evil, that they may administer the government in righteousness, and that they may pursue a course that will receive the approbation of heaven. . . .
. . . Well, shall we be governed by them? Yes. Shall we obey the law? Yes. Shall I as a citizen of this city obey the laws of this city? Yes. . . . Shall I cause trouble or speak evil of the mayor or city council or any of the administrators of the law? No, I ought to pray for them that they may lead aright and administer justice equitably and act for the welfare and interest of the community wherein they live and for whom they operate. Am I a citizen of the United States? Yes, and I ought to feel the same toward them.
And they will tear away one plank of liberty after another, until the whole fabric will totter and fall; and many other nations will be cast down and empires destroyed; and this nation will have to suffer as others will. And it will be as Joseph Smith once said, “When all others forsake the Constitution, the Elders of this Church will rally around the standard and save its tattered shreds.” We will come to its rescue and proclaim liberty to all men.
We have preached it – I have preached it upwards of forty years in this nation and in other nations. Need we be surprised that they should trample under foot the Constitution of the United States? No; Joseph Smith told us that they would do it. Many around me here knew long ago that they would do this thing and further knew that the last people that should be found to rally around the sacred instrument and save it from the grasp of unrighteous men would be the Elders of Israel! When, therefore, we see these things progressing need we be astonished? I do not think we need be.
But if they think we cannot stand up for our rights under God and the Constitution, they will find they are egregiously mistaken.
When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States the Elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men, and extending the hand of fellowship to the oppressed of all nations. This is part of the programme, and as long as we do what is right and fear God, he will help us and stand by us under all circumstances.
Again in regard to political matters, where is there a nation to-day, under the face of the whole heavens that is under the guidance and direction of the Lord in the management of their public affairs? You cannot find one. It is true that the founders of this nation, as a preliminary step for the introduction of more correct principles and that liberty and the rights of man might be recognized, and that all men might become equal before the law of the land, had that great palladium of liberty, the Constitution of the United States, framed. This was the entering wedge for the introduction of a new era, and in it were introduced principles for the birth and organization of a new world. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “The Constitution of the United States was given by the inspiration of God.” But good, virtuous and holy principles may be perverted by corrupt and wicked men. The Lord was opposed by Satan, Jesus had his Judas, and this nation abounds with traitors who ignore that sacred palladium of liberty and seek to trample it under foot. Joseph Smith said they would do so, and that when deserted by all, the elders of Israel would rally around its shattered fragments and save and preserve it inviolate. But even this, good as it was, was not a perfect instrument; it was one of those stepping stones to a future development in the progress of a man to the intelligence and light, the power and union that God alone can impart to the human family. And while we acknowledge, as citizens of the United States, the laws and institutions thereof (which by the way are very easily complied with), we have a higher law, more noble principles, ideas that are more elevated and expansive; principles that reach to the whole human family, and which he will continue to reveal to us. Does that prevent us from obeying the laws of the land? Certainly not. But then, is that a perfect system? I do not think that many of you will say it is, nor do I think that the people of the United States of any political party will tell you it is. . . . We are united, then, as a body politic, as an integral part of this Government, and it becomes our duty to submit to the laws and institutions of that Government — to all that are constitutional, framed and based upon correct principles, and not in violation of what the fathers of the country instituted.
However we may respect the government and its institutions I would respectfully say we are not the parties who produce this antagonism. It is men who place themselves in antagonism to the Constitution of the United States. We are governed by the law of God, which is not in violation of that Constitution.
Mr. T[aylor] — For instance, referring to the government of the United States; do you believe that its Constitution is binding upon Congress and upon the Supreme Court?
Mr. H[ollister] — Yes, sir.
Mr. T[aylor] — Then, although I am sorry to say it, yet I believe that both of these exalted branches of the government have violated their most sacred obligations to sustain that instrument.
I have taken the oath of allegiance to the United States government, not being American born, and I have always admired its institutions; and I have been very desirous to see the practice and carrying out of these fundamental principles of our government; I have been anxious to see public affairs conducted in an honorable, intelligent, correct, philosophic, patriotic and statesmanlike form in all things. These have been my sentiments.
We are told, however, that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty;” and as we possess the best Constitution and the best government in the world, let us preserve it, and transmit it intact, pure and unadulterated to our children.
It may be asked why the framers of the Constitution did not carry out the views enunciated by the declarers of independence, in regard to the inalienable rights of man? . . .
It may be asked, if this instrument was imperfect, why do you sustain it? Simply that, with this one fault, it was the best instrument in existence, and it was all and more than the nation has ever lived up to.
I may be here met with the statement that we are only a territory; but we are American citizens, and have never abjured our citizenship nor relinquished our Constitutional guarantees. . . .
The facts are the people, one hundred thousand American citizens, living in the Territory of Utah, with the full rights of free men, and the protecting guarantees of a written constitution, find in the persons of federal officers “another government” not of the people, and in violation of Constitutional guarantees and authority; claiming to come from the United States, “imperium in imperio.”
The worst wish we have for the human family is that the principles enunciated in our Constitution may reverberate over the wide earth, and spread from shore to shore, until all mankind shall be free.
The honorable framers of the Constitution of the United States were no less alive to these matters, and while they threw safeguards around the civil power, [they] were very anxious to protect the people in their individual, social, religious and political rights.
As part of the common brotherhood of the nation, we will perform the part of a good citizen; rally round the cause of right; maintain inviolate the Constitution of the United States.
Under a government just and equitable . . . this country flourished, following the arts of industry and peace, as no nation ever did before. . . . She prospered under the direction, the guidance and protection of the Constitution. Well might Joseph Smith exclaim, “It was given by inspiration of God.” In such a condition, surrounded by so many blessings, what might have been her destiny?
And why should we feel ashamed to acknowledge that those patriots and statesmen who framed the Constitution of the United States were led by inspiration? It is an honor to any man or group of men to seek the inspiration of the Almighty. It is a greater honor to receive it.
There have been attempts made here to interfere with the trial by jury, a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States as well as by the Magna Carta of England. . . .
No man should make a scapegoat of me; if he wished to violate constitutional rights he should do it on his own responsibility. Some men will endure a great deal in matters of this kind, and they will call it humility; but I desire no such humility. I want a principle that will maintain, uphold, and stand by the rights of man, giving to all men everywhere equal rights, and that will preserve inviolate the fundamental principles of the Constitution of our country.
Then do you profess to ignore the laws of the land? No; not unless they are unconstitutional, then I would do it all the time. Whenever the Congress of the United States, for instance, pass[es] a law interfering with my religion, or with my religious rights, I will read a small portion of that instrument called the Constitution of the United States, now almost obsolete, which says “Congress shall pass no law interfering with religion or the free exercise thereof” [US Const. Amend. I]; and I would say, gentlemen, you may go to Gibraltar with your law, and I will live my religion. When you become violators of the Constitution you have sworn before high heaven to uphold, and perjure yourselves before God, then I will maintain the right, and leave you to take the wrong just as you please.
We do not expect that Congress is acquainted with our religious faith; but . . . we do claim the guarantees of the Constitution and immunity from persecution on merely religious grounds.
As we have progressed the mist has been removed, and in relation to these matters, the Elders of Israel begin to understand that they have something to do with the world politically as well as religiously, that it is as much their duty to study correct political principles as well as religious, and to seek to know and comprehend the social and political interests of man, and to learn and be able to teach that which would be best calculated to promote the interests of the world.
Well, but do you not hold allegiance to the government of the United States also? Do you not believe in the laws and institutions thereof? Yes, we have always sustained and upheld them; and although we have had many very heavy provocations to make us feel rebellious and opposed to that government, yet we have always sustained it under all circumstances and in every position. When they tried to cut our throats, we rather objected to that, you know. We had some slight objection to have our heads cut off and be trampled under foot; we did not think it was either constitutional or legal. But when they took their swords away from our necks and said that we might enjoy the rights of American citizens, that was all we wanted.
There is, however, a kind of political heresy that we have always adopted. We have always maintained that we had a right to worship God as we thought proper under the constitution of the United States, and that we would vote as we pleased. But some people took a notion to say “they would be damned if we should.” We told them, however, that was a matter of their own taste; that we would seek to be saved and yet we would do it. It has always been a principle with us, and in fact is given in one of our revelations, “that he who will observe the laws of God need not transgress the laws of the land” [D&C 58:21]. . . . I am prepared to say that, as a population, as a people, as a Territory, we have always been loyal to the institutions of our government, and I am at the defiance of the world to prove anything to the contrary. When we left—I was going to say the United States—what did we leave for? Why did we leave that country? Was it because its institutions were not good? No. Was it because its constitution was not one of the best that was ever framed? No. Was it because the laws of the United States, or of the States where we sojourned, were not good? No. Why was it? It was because there was not sufficient virtue found in the Executive to sustain their own laws. That was the reason, gentlemen. Is this anything to be proud of? It is a thing that should make every honorable American hide his head in shame; and all reflecting, intelligent, and honorable men feel thus. . . .
But did we rebel? No, we did not act as the Southern States have done. We came here; and, in the absence of any other government, we organized a provisional state government, just the same as Oregon did before us. Thus, in the midst of this abuse heaped upon us, we showed our adherence to the institutions and constitution of our country. If bad men bore rule, if corrupt men held sway — men who had neither the virtue nor the fortitude to maintain the right and protect the institutions and constitution of this, shall I say, our once glorious country — if men could not be found who possessed sufficient integrity to maintain their oaths and their own institutions, there was a people here found of sufficient integrity to the constitution and institutions of the United States not to abandon them. . . . Still we have been true to our trust, to our integrity, and to the institutions and constitution of our country all the time in the midst of these things.
. . . Sometimes people think we are acting almost hypocritically when we talk of loyalty to the constitution of the United States. We will stand by that constitution and uphold the flag of our country when everybody else forsakes it. We cannot shut our eyes to things transpiring around us. We have our reason, and God has revealed unto us many things; but never has he revealed anything in opposition to those institutions and that Constitution, no, never; and, another thing, he never will.
The Constitution of the United States has ever been respected and honored by us. We consider it one of the best national instruments ever formed. Nay, further, Joseph Smith in his day said it was given by inspiration of God. We have ever stood by it, and we expect when the fanaticism of false, blatant friends shall have torn it shred from shred, to stand by the shattered ruins and uphold the broken, desecrated remnants of our country’s institutions in all their primitive purity and pristine glory.
The origin for the unprecedented prosperity of the United States will be found in a free and liberal constitution.
We have at all times been subject to and supported the constitution of the United States, and the laws of this State. Had the authorities of government sent out a committee to have counselled with us, and investigate the matter, they would have been treated with respect, and their counsel adhered to, as we never had any quarrel with our country, and if we or any of us had broken the laws, we were willing to be tried by and adhere to those laws, and that Constitution which the blood of our Fathers still endears to our memory.
They have, however, discovered the difference between a blind submission to the caprices of political demagogues, and obedience to the Constitution, laws, and institutions of the United States; nor can they in the present instance be hood-winked by the cry of “treason.” If it be treason to stand up for our Constitutional rights; if it be treason to resist the unconstitutional acts of a vitiated and corrupt administration, who by a mercenary armed force would seek to rob us of the rights of franchise, cut our throats to subserve their own party, and seek to force upon us their corrupt tools, and violently invade the rights of American citizens; if it be treason to maintain inviolate our homes, our firesides, our wives, and our honor, from the corrupting, and withering blight of a debauched soldiery; if it be treason to maintain inviolate the Constitution and institutions of the United States, when nearly all the states are seeking to trample them under their feet—then indeed are we guilty of treason.
It is not as some suppose the “voice of Brigham” only, but the universal, deep settled feeling of the whole community. Their cry is “Give us our Constitutional rights; give us liberty or death.”
In regard to our religion, it is perhaps unnecessary to say much, yet whatever others’ feelings may be about it, with us it is honestly a matter of conscience. This is a right guaranteed unto us by the Constitution of our country, yet it is on this ground, and this alone, that we have suffered a continued series of persecutions.
Will you endeavour to disannul the Government? No; but we will rally round the Constitution that was purchased by the blood of our fathers, and will support it. . . .
These are our views; and while we do not trample under foot the Constitution, we will take care that others do not do it. . . .Shall we still bless the human family? Yes.
Shall we rally around the Constitution of the United States and protect it in its purity? Yes; we will save it when others forsake it.
We are not rebelling against the United States, neither are we resisting the Constitution of the United States; but it is wicked and corrupt usurpers that are oppressing us and that would take our rights from us.
In speaking upon this subject once before, I showed you that, by the Constitution and the very genius of our Government, they had no right to interfere with us.
What was the great cause of complaint at the time the Constitution was framed? In the Declaration of Independence, it was stated that the people had rulers placed over them, and they had no voice in their election. Read that instrument. It describes our wrongs as plainly as it did the wrongs the people then laboured under and discarded.
As American citizens and patriots, and as sons of those venerable sires, can we, without disgracing ourselves, our fathers and our nation, submit to these insults and tamely bow to such tyranny? We cannot do it, and we will not do it. We will rally round the Constitution, and declare our rights as American citizens and we will sustain them in the face of high heaven and the world.
No man need have any qualms of conscience that he is doing wrong. You are patriots, standing by your rights and opposing the wrong which affects all lovers of freedom as well as you; for those acts of aggression have a withering, deadly effect, and are gnawing, like a canker-worm, at the very vitals of religious and civil liberty. You are standing by the Declaration of Independence, and sustaining the Constitution which was given by the inspiration of God; and you are the only people in the United States [at] this time that are doing it—that have the manhood to do it.. . .
According to the genius and spirit of the Constitution of the United States, we are pursuing the course that would be approved of by all high-minded, honourable men; and no man but a poor, miserable sneak would have any other feeling.
. . . I have watched with no little anxiety the encroachments of Government and the manifest desire to trample upon your rights. It is for you, however, to maintain them; and if those men that are traitors to the spirit and genius of the Constitution of the United States have a mind to trample under foot those principles that ought to guarantee protection to every American citizen, we will rally around the standard, and bid them defiance in the name of the Lord God of Israel.
In doing this, we neither forget our duties as citizens of the United States, nor as subjects of the kingdom and cause of God; but as the Lord has said, if we will keep His commandments, we need not transgress the laws of the land. We have not done it; we have maintained them all the time.
When we talk about the Constitution of the United States, we are sometimes apt to quote—”Vox populi, vox Dei;” that is, The voice of the people is the voice of God. But in some places they ought to say, VOX POPULI, VOX DIABOLI; that is, the voice of the people is the voice of the Devil.
We are moved by a higher law. . . .
We are not taking any steps contrary to the laws and the Constitution of the United States, but in everything we are upholding and sustaining them.
I wish to quote to you one little thing. If I had the Constitution here, I would read it to you. It is to the effect, “That the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” [US Const. Amend.X].
There was not virtue enough either in state or general government to protect an innocent, helpless people in the enjoyment of their Constitutional rights.
We are citizens of the United States, and profess to support the Constitution of the United States; and wherein that binds us, we are bound; wherein it does not, we are not bound…
…If there is any man in this congregation, or anywhere else, that will show me any principle or authority in the Constitution of the United States that authorizes the President of the United States to send out governors and judges to this Territory, I would like to see it.
I declare it before you and the world, that this people are the most peaceable, law-abiding, and patriotic people that can be found in the United States.
Right on the back of all the insults, robbery and fraud which we had endured, we still went Constitutionally to work… Is there any step that we have taken that is contrary to law? There is not. (JD 5:152; revised in LJT 275)
Would I, as a citizen of the United States, come out in rebellion against the United States, and act contrary to my conscience? Verily no. Would brother Young? Verily no. Would brother Kimball, or brother Wells? Verily no.
Are they not true patriots — true Americans? Do they not feel the fire of ‘76 burning in their bosoms? Assuredly they do. Would they do a thing that is wrong? No; and they will also see that others do not do it. That is the feeling, the spirit, and principle that actuate them.
There are thousands of you who are Americans, who have been born in this land, whose fathers fought for the liberties we used to enjoy, but have not enjoyed for some years past. There are thousands of such men here who feel the same spirit that used to burn in their fathers’ bosoms — the spirit of liberty and equal rights — the spirit of according to every man that which belongs to him, and of robbing no man of his rights.
Your fathers and grandfathers have met the tyrant when he sought to put a yoke on your necks; as men and true patriots, they came forward and fought for their rights and in defence of that liberty which we, their children, ought to enjoy. You feel the same spirit that inspired them; the same blood that coursed in their veins flows in yours; you feel true patriotism and a strong attachment to the Constitution and institutions bought by the blood of your fathers, and bequeathed to you by them as your richest patrimony.
She [the U.S.] has, out of the chaotic, confused mass of material associated with corrupt governments, organized a system of government and framed a constitution that . . . guarantees to all, to the fullest extent, “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. . . .” Here man is free to speak, free to think, free to write, free to act, free to do good. The very genius of our Constitution and institutions is freedom. If there is fault, it is the fault of party, sectional strife, or narrow bigotry; it is not in our institutions.
We believe that all legislative assemblies should confine themselves to constitutional principles; and that all such laws should be implicitly obeyed by every American.
We believe that our fathers were inspired to write the Constitution of the United States, and that it is in instrument, full, lucid, and comprehensive; that it was dictated by a wise and foreseeing policy, and does honor to the heads and hearts of its framers; that it is the great bulwark of American liberty; and that the strict and implicit observance of which is the only safeguard of this mighty nation. We therefore rest ourselves under its ample folds.
Gentlemen, I now stand among whose fathers fought for and obtained one of the greatest blessings ever conferred upon the human family—the right to think, to speak, to write; the right to say who shall govern them, and the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences—all of them sacred, human rights, and now guaranteed by the American Constitution. I see around me the sons of those noble sires, who, rather than bow to the behests of a tyrant, pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honors to burst those fetters, enjoy freedom themselves, bequeath it to their posterity, or die in the attempt.