A Young Folks' History of the Church HTML version
The "Utah War"
The president of the United States appoints the leading officers of a territory. Many of the
officers sent to Utah by the president were good men and did justice to "Mormon" and
Gentile alike; but some were men who could see no good in the Saints, and were
therefore always trying to oppress them. Such men were Judges Stiles and Drummond,
and Secretary Ferris, who were in Utah in 1856. At last they left the territory and sent in a
report to the president. In it Judge Drummond said that the "Mormons" were traitors to
the United States, and would not obey its laws; that they had a secret organization whose
duty it was to murder all who opposed them; that the court records had been burned; that
the government officials were in danger of their lives, etc. Like reports were made by
other persons, and the result was that a strong feeling was created in the East against the
people of Utah.
On the 24th of July, 1857, the people of Salt Lake City were having a grand celebration
in Big Cottonwood canyon. They were having a happy time. The band played, the choirs
sang, the cannon roared, while the Stars and Stripes waved from trees and mountain
peaks. Suddenly four dusty travelers rode into the camp. They brought news from the
East, and startling news it was: the president of the United States had sent an army to
Utah to establish law and order among the "Mormons!"
In the evening the Saints were called together, and the news was told them. President
Young spoke with power. "We have transgressed no law, neither do we intend to," said
he; "but as for any nation coming to destroy this people, God Almighty being my helper,
it shall not be."
Two thousand five hundred soldiers were on the march to Utah. General Harney was
appointed commander, but he was succeeded by Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston. With
the army came the new set of officers which the president had appointed for the territory.
In the commander's orders it was stated that the people of Utah were in rebellion against
the United States, and that it was the duty of the army to restore the authority of the
government and aid and protect the new officers in the discharge of their duties. On the
8th of September Captain Van Vliet arrived in Salt Lake City from the army. He told
President Young that their intentions were not to harm the people in any way. President
Young replied that he had had experience with military bodies in Missouri and Illinois,
and he knew what the "Mormons" could expect. The captain tried to show President
Young how useless it would be for a few "Mormons" to resist a nation like the United
States. Even if they prevented the army from entering the valley that year, more soldiers
would be sent in the spring.
"We are aware that such will be the case," replied the president; "but when those troops
arrive they will find Utah a desert; every house will be burned to the ground, every tree
cut down, and every field laid waste."
The captain was deeply impressed, but such were really the intentions of the Saints. They
could not trust the troops, and they did not intend to submit tamely to such scenes as they
had passed through in Far West and Nauvoo. They were not in rebellion, and if the
president had simply sent some one to investigate, he would have found out that truth; but
he had acted on the spur of the moment, and the troops were already far on the way. If
they could be checked for a time until the truth could be learned, the danger of a conflict