“Brigham Young”, in Latter-day Prophets and the United States Constitution, ed. by Donald Q. Cannon (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1991), 14–34.
Born: 1 June 1801
Ordained an Apostle: 14 February 1835
President of the Twelve: 14 April 1840
President of the Church: 27 December 1847—29 August 1877
Died: 29 August 1877
As a fellow New Englander, Brigham Young shared Joseph Smith’s reverence for the Constitution. He also experienced the same kind of conflict with the government. During his administration he faced conflicts on two fronts:
1. The issue of statehood
2. The principle of polygamy
As Governor of the Utah Territory, Brigham Young pushed for the admission of Utah as a state, sending dozens of representatives to the nation’s capitol to urge that action. These many attempts were frustrated, largely because of polygamy. The practice of plural marriage brought first heavy persecution and then legislation against the Saints.
Main theme: The laws created under the Constitution are good, but they are frequently violated by our lawmakers.
1. The Constitution should be altered.
2. The government should be sustained.
2.1. Our fathers, nay some of us, have fought and bled for our country, and we love her Constitution dearly. (HC 7:403)
2.2. I find no fault with the Constitution or laws of our country, they are good enough. It is the abuse of those laws which I despise, and which God, good men and angels abhor. (HC 7:573)
2.3. Pres Young met with Col. Kane in Elder Woodruff’s carriage and conversed about the state of the nations. The President told Col. Kane the time would come when the Saints would support the government of the U. S. or it would crumble to atoms. (JD [13 Jul 1846] 1)
2.4. Council adjourned at twenty eight minutes after ten a.m. to G D Grant’s tent, i.e. the Twelve, Bishop Newell K. Whitney, John D Lee and Col Thomas L. Kane who wished to know the intentions of the brethren.
President Young informed the Col. they intended settling in the great Basin or Bear River Valley, and those who went round by water would settle at San Francisco. They would be glad to raise the American flag, said the President: “We love the Constitution of our country, but are opposed to mobocracy; and will not live under such oppression as we have done. We are willing to have the banner of the U.S. constitution float over us. If the government of the U.S. is disposed to do us good; we can do them as much good as they can us.” (JH [7 Aug 1846] 2)
2.5. There never was a better constitution on the face of the earth than the constitution of the United States. There is nothing but the people of God could enjoy under it. But the Federal constitution is trodden under foot. All that I am afraid of is that the Elders of Israel will forget their God. (JH [8 Jul 1849] 3)
2.6. I arose and spoke substantially as follows: . . . I love the government and the constitution of the United States, but I do not love the damned rascals who administer the government. (JH [8 Sep 1851] 3–4)
2.7. Sustain the government of the nation wherever you are, and speak well of it, for this is right, and the government has a right to expect it of you, so long as that government sustains you in your civil and religious liberty, in those rights which inherently belong to every person born on the earth and if you are persecuted in your native land, and denied the privilege of worshipping the true God in spirit and in truth, flee to the land of Zion, to America—to the United States, where constitutional rights and freedoms are not surpassed by any nation—where God saw fit, in these last days, to renew the dispensation of salvation, by revelations from the heavens, and where all, by the constitution and laws of the land, when executed in righteousness, are protected in all the civil and religious freedom that man is capable of enjoying on earth; and our national institutions will never fail, unless it be through the wickedness of the people, and the designs of evil men in brief authority; for those rights were ordained of God on this land, for the establishment of the principles of truth on the earth; and our national organization originated in the heavens. (MFP 2:98)
2.8. The revolutions made by the Government of the United States, with regard to real progression generally, are small indeed; so small that it is impossible to perceive any advancement. It is true the Constitution has been revised by the voice of the people; but wherein is it bettered? Some say it is bettered; but as to the light and knowledge that now exist with regard to the true spirit of republicanism, the revolution is on the retrograde motion. No one will question for a moment that many revolutions in the United States have become in a great degree popular, notwithstanding they have been in many instances unconstitutional and in open violation of the statute laws, and have been winked at by the most influential officers of the Government. (JD 7:9)
2.9. Let us look at it in another point of view. Suppose this people inhabiting these mountains are broken off entirely from the nations of the world, rendering no allegiance to any earthly power combined or isolated; free to make laws, to obey them, or to break them; free to act, to choose, and to refuse, and, in every sense of the word, to do as they please, without any fixed order of government whatever; and they wish a Constitution—a system of government for mutual protection and advancement in the principles of right, to be framed according to the best wisdom that can be found in this community;—I say, let them govern themselves by a Republican system of government, selecting a man from their midst to preside over them. And whom should they select to fill so important a station? The best man they can find. Should they keep him in office only four years? Should they make a clause in their Constitution that a President shall serve at most for only two terms without a vacation in his services? That is an item that should not be found in the Constitution of the United States, nor in the constitution made by this or any other people. We should select the best man we could find, and centre our feelings upon him, and sustain him as our President, dictator, lawgiver, controller, and guide in a national capacity, and in every other capacity wherein he is a righteous example. Though we find as good a man as there is in the nation, yet we should not lay facilities before him to become evil, were he so disposed. Great care should be exercised to guard against placing such a power at the command of any mortal. (JD 7:11)
2.10. It is yet in the power of the people of the United States to lay a foundation to redeem themselves from the growing consequences of past errors. What would be the result, were the United States to take this course—viz., to strike out that clause in the Constitution that limits the services of a President to four years, or the term of service of any good man, and continue to revise the Constitution and laws as they become familiar with their defects; then reduce the salaries of all officers in all the departments? . . .
The General Constitution of our country is good, and a wholesome government could be framed upon it, for it was dictated by the invisible operations of the Almighty he moved upon Columbus to launch forth upon the trackless deep to discover the American Continent; he moved upon the signers of the Declaration of Independence; and he moved upon Washington to fight and conquer, in the same way as he moved upon ancient and modern Prophets, each being inspired to accomplish the particular work he was called to perform in the times, seasons, and dispensations of the Almighty. God’s purpose, in raising up these men and inspiring them with daring sufficient to surmount every opposing power, was to prepare the way for the formation of a true Republican government. They laid its foundation; but when others came to build upon it, they reared a superstructure far short of their privileges, if they had walked uprightly as they should have done. (JD 7:13)
2.11. Can the Constitution be altered? It can; and when we get a President that answers our wishes to occupy the executive chair, there let him sit to the day of his death, and pray that he may live as long as Methuselah; and, whenever we have good officers, strive to retain them, and to fill up vacancies with good men, until there are none who would let the nation sink for a can of oysters and a lewd woman. The signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution were inspired from on high to do that work. But was that which was given to them perfect, not admitting of any addition whatever? No; for if men know anything, they must know that the Almighty has never yet found a man in mortality that was capable, at the first intimation, at the first impulse, to receive anything in a state of entire perfection. They laid the foundation, and it was for after generations to rear the superstructure upon it. It is a progressive—a gradual work. If the framers of the Constitution and the inhabitants of the United States had walked humbly before God, who defended them and fought their battles when Washington was on the stage of action, the nation would now have been free from a multitude of place-hunters who live upon its vitals. The country would not have been overrun with murderers and thieves, and our cities filled with houses of ill-fame, as now; and men could have walked the streets of cities, or travelled on conveyances through the country, without being insulted, plundered, and perhaps murdered; and an honest, sober, industrious, enterprising, and righteous people would now have been found from one end of the United States to the other. (JD 7:14)
2.12. The progress of revolution is quite considerable in every government of the world. But is the revolution for the constitutional rights of the people in progress? No: it is on the retrograde. I know how they can be brought back to the people, and the Government be redeemed and become one of the most powerful and best on the earth. It was instituted in the beginning by the Almighty. He operated upon the hearts of the Revolutionary Fathers to rebel against the English King and his Parliament, as he does upon me to preach “Mormonism.” Both are inspired by him; but the work unto which they are called is dissimilar. The one was inspired to fight, and the other to preach the peaceable things of the kingdom of God. He operated upon that pusillanimous king to excite the colonists to rebellion; and he is still operating with this nation, and taking away their wisdom, until by-and-by they will get mad and rush to certain destruction.
Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.” It will be so.
With regard to the doings of our fathers and the Constitution of the United States, I have to say, they present to us a glorious prospect in the future, but one we cannot attain to until the present abuses in the Government are corrected. (JD 7:14–15)
2.13. In these secluded vales we gather the Saints that we may enjoy the rights and privileges of the Constitution, denied to us elsewhere; that we may have the privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of our own consciences. (MFP 2:136)
2.14. In this view we consider that the men of the Revolution were inspired by the Almighty, to throw off the shackles of the mother government, with her established religion. For this cause were Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and a host of others inspired to deeds of resistance to the acts of the King of Great Britain, who might also have been led to those aggressive acts, for aught we know, to bring to pass the purposes of God in this establishing a new government upon a principle of greater freedom, a basis of self-government allowing the free exercise of religious worship.
It was the voice of the Lord inspiring all those worthy men who bore influence in those trying times, not only to go forth in battle, but to exercise wisdom in council, fortitude, courage, and endurance in the tented field, as well as subsequently to form and adopt those wise and efficient measures which secured to themselves, and suceeding [sic] generations, the blessing of a free, and independent government. This government, so formed, has been blessed by the Almighty until she spreads her sails in every sea, and her power is felt in every land.
The American Government is second to none in the world in influence, and power, and far before all others in liberal, and free institutions. Under its benign influence the poor, down trodden masses of the old world can find an asylum where they can enjoy the blessings of peace, and freedom, no matter to what caste or religious sect they belong, or are disposed to favor, or whether they are disposed to favor any, or none at all. It was in this government, formed by men inspired of God, although at the time they knew it not, after it was firmly established in the seat of power and influence, where liberty of conscience, and the free exercise of religious worship were a fundamental principle guaranteed in the Constitution, and interwoven with all the feelings, traditions, and sympathies of the people, that the Lord sent forth His angel to reveal the truths of heaven as in times past, even as in ancient days. This should have been hailed as the greatest blessing which could have been bestowed upon any nation, kindred, tongue, or people. It should have been received with hearts of gratitude and gladness, praise and thanksgiving
. . . No! Whenever the iron hand of oppression, and persecution has fallen upon this people, our opposers have broken their own laws, set at defiance, and trampled under foot every principle of equal rights, justice, and liberty found written in that rich legacy of our fathers, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES . . .
. . . And should it not be the duty, as well as the pride, of every American citizen to extend that provision of the CONSTITUTION to us which he claims for himself? And is not that sacred instrument invaded, and broken as much in debarring, and excluding this people from its privileges, rights, and blessings, as it would be if your rights, and privileges were thus invaded? No, gentlemen, we have broken no laws, our Glorious CONSTITUTION guarantees unto us, all that we claim. Under its broad folds, in its obvious meaning, and intents, we are safe, and can always rejoice in peace. All that we have ever claimed, or wish to, on the part of the government, is the just administration of the powers, and privileges of the National Compact. (Discourses Delivered by Presidents Joseph Smith and Brigham Young 6–7; also in JD 2:170–72)
2.15. To accuse us of being unfriendly to the Government, is to accuse us of hostility to our religion, for no item of inspiration is held more sacred with us than the Constitution under which she acts. As a religious society, we, in common with all other denominations, claim its protection; whether our people are located in the other states or territories, as thousands of them are, or in this territory, it is held as a shield to protect the dearest boon of which man is susceptible—his religious views and sentiments.
. . . She [the government] has calmly looked on and permitted one of the fundamental and dearest provisions of the Constitution to be broken; she has permitted us to be driven and trampled under foot with impunity. Under these circumstances what course is left for us to pursue? I answer that, instead of seeking to destroy the very best government in the world, as seems to be the fears of some, we, like all other good citizens, should seek to place these men in power who will feel the obligations and responsibilities they are under to a mighty people; who would feel, and realize the important trusts reposed in them by the voice of the people who call them to administer law under the solemn sanction of an oath of fidelity to that heaven inspired instrument, to the inviolate preservation of which we look for the perpetuity of our free institutions. (Discourses Delivered by Presidents Joseph Smith and Brigham Young 8–9; also in JD 2:175)
2.16. It is incumbent upon us to use our influence for the preservation of ourselves, our wives, our children, our brethren, our sisters, and all of our society from the contaminating influence of vice, sin, immorality, and iniquity, let it emanate from where it will. If it exists in high places, so much the more need of rebuking it, for from thence it will do the most harm.
I claim this as a right, as a Constitutional right; I believe it is legal to exercise all the power and influence which God has given me for the preservation of virtue, truth, and holiness; and because we feel sensitive upon points such as these, should it be construed that we are enemies to the Federal Government? . . . In this view of the case the Government should also be our friends
This then is our position towards the Government of the United States, and towards the world, to put down iniquity, and exalt virtue; to declare the word of God which He revealed unto us, and build up His Kingdom upon the earth . . .. To serve God, and keep His commandments are first and foremost with me. If this is higher law, so be it. As it is with me, so should it be with every department of the Government; for this doctrine is based upon the principles of virtue, and integrity; with it the Government, her Constitution, and free institutions are safe; without it no power can avert their speedy destruction. It is the life giving power to the government; it is the vital element on which she exists and prospers; in its absence she sinks to rise no more.
We now proceed to discuss the question, does our faith and practice,—our holy religion, as we hold and believe it, come within the purview of the Constitution; or in other words, is it a religious question over which the Constitution throws its protecting shield? (Discourses Delivered by Presidents Joseph Smith and Brigham Young 9; also in JD 2:176)
2.17. Brethren and sisters, our friends wish to know our feelings towards the Government. I answer, they are first-rate, and we will prove it too, as you will see if you only live long enough, for that we shall live to prove it is certain; and when the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the “Mormon” Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it.
We love the Constitution of our country; it is all we could ask; though in some few instances there might be some amendments made which would better it. We love the Federal Government, and the laws of Congress. There is nothing in those laws that in the least militates against us, not even to our excluding common law from this Territory. I can inform our lawyers who plead at the bar here, that the congress of the United States [has] passed laws giving us the privilege of excluding common law at our pleasure, and that too without any violation of the Constitution, or general statutes. They have also given us privilege to stop drunkenness, swearing, and gambling, and to prevent horse-racing, and to punish men for hurting and robbing each other. The Constitution of the United States, and the whole Federal Government, in their acts, have given us this privilege . . ..
Corrupt men cannot walk these streets with impunity, and if that is alienism to the Government, amen to it. The Constitution of the United States we sustain all the day long, and it will sustain and shield us, while the men who say we are aliens, and cry out “Mormon disturbance,” will go to hell
But to proceed; the principal evil is in the rulers, or those who profess to be rulers, and in the dispensers of the law, and not the Constitution, it is pure. (Discourses Delivered by Presidents Joseph Smith and Brigham Young 12–13; also in JD 2:182–84)
2.18. If they wish to send a Governor here, and he is a gentleman, like the one I have referred to, every heart would say “Thank God, we have a man to stand at our head in a gubernatorial capacity; a man who has got a good heart, and is willing that we should enjoy the federal rights of the Constitution as well as himself.” I am with all such men, heart and hand . . ..
Have I any feelings against the man who has a true heart for Constitutional rights? I have nothing but love and good feelings for all such. (Discourses Delivered by Presidents Joseph Smith and Brigham Young 15; also in JD 2:188)
2.19. It was observed this morning that the government of the United States was the best or most wholesome one on the earth, and the best adapted to our condition. That is very true. And if the constitution of the United States, and the laws of the United States, and of the several States, were honored by the officers, by those who sit in judgment and dispense the laws to the people, yes, had even the letter of the law been honored, to say nothing of the spirit of it, of the spirit of right, it would have hung Governors, Judges, Generals, Magistrates, &c, for they violated the laws of their own States . . ..
I say again that the constitution, and laws of the United States, and the laws of the different States, as a general thing, are just as good as we want, provided they were honored. But we find Judges who do not honor the laws, yes, officers of the law dishonor the law. Legislators and law makers are frequently the first violators of the laws they make. “When the wicked rule the people mourn” [D&C 98:9], and when the corruption of a people bears down the scale in favor of wickedness, that people is nigh unto destruction. (JD 2:310–11)
2.20. When the day comes in which the Kingdom of God will bear rule, the flag of the United States will proudly flutter unsullied on the flag staff of liberty and equal rights, without a spot to sully its fair surface; the glorious flag our fathers have bequeathed to us will then be unfurled to the breeze by those who have power to hoist it aloft and defend its sanctity. (JD 2:317)
2.21. We as a people have more reason to respect, honor, love and cherish the Government of the United States, and her Constitution and free institutions than any other people upon the face of the earth. (“Oration by His Excellency Governor Young” 4; also in Vetterli 378)
2.22. The Constitution of the United States forbids making an ex post facto law. The presenting of the resolution alluded to shows their feelings, they wish the Constitution out of existence, and there is no question but that they will get rid of it as quickly as they can, and that would be by ex post facto law, which the Constitution of the United States strictly forbids. (JD 4:39)
2.23. There is not a Territory in the Union that is looked upon with so suspicious an eye as is Utah, and yet it is the only part of the nation that cares anything about the Constitution. (JD 4:40)
2.24. We are more indifferent in regard to this subject in a religious than in a political sense, for, whether we are organized in a Territorial or State capacity, Government is bound to protect us in the rights of conscience, or over-ride plain Constitutional guarantees. And no intelligent person holds in very high estimation that union which is hourly endangered by the frenzied zeal of rampant, misguided, and fanatical demagogues, who trample that heaven-inspired instrument—the Constitution—into the dust, and regard neither their fathers’ legacy nor their children’s inheritance. (MFP 2:203)
2.25. There is no statute law in the United States, in neither the constitution nor the statutes at large, but what allows the Latter-day Saints every prerogative they could ask for. There is no right or privilege that we could ask to enjoy—none that any other people could reasonably ask to enjoy, but what is guaranteed unto us by the constitution and laws of the United States. Officials who feel to traduce the name and character of the Latter-day Saints, whether they be judges, marshals, Indian agents, or holding any other office under the United States’ Government in this Territory, have to violate and trample under their feet their oaths to be loyal to the Government and laws by which they profess to be governed, in order to intrude in the least on the rights of this or any other peaceful, law-abiding community. To the honour of a few of those officials that have come here, we can say that they have honoured the law under which they came, while others have trampled it under their feet . . .. If men will only observe the laws of the United States—will only honour the laws they are sworn to honour, we are safe. (JD 4:347)
2.26. It is a pretty bold stand for this people to take, to say that they will not be controlled by the corrupt administrators of our General Government. We will be controlled by them, if they will be controlled by the Constitution and laws; but they will not. Many of them do not care any more about the constitution and the laws that they make than they do about the laws of another nation. That class tramples the rights of the people under their feet, while there are also many who would like to honour them. All we have ever asked for is our constitutional rights. We wish the laws of our Government honoured, and we have ever honoured them; but they are trampled under foot by administrators.
I do not lift my voice against the great and glorious Government guaranteed to every citizen by our Constitution, but against those corrupt administrators who trample the Constitution and just laws under their feet. They care no more about them than they do about the Government of France; but they walk them under their feet with impunity. And the most of the characters they have sent here as officers cared no more about the laws of our country and of this Territory than they did about the laws of China, but walked them under their feet with all the recklessness of despots. (JD 5:231–32)
2.27. Every man is allowed by the Constitution to have what religion he pleases and to profess what religion he pleases. That liberty is guaranteed by the Constitution. (JD 5:235)
2.28. The Constitution and laws of the United States resemble a theocracy more closely than any government now on the earth or that ever has been, so far as we know, except the government of the children of Israel to the time when they elected a king. (JD 6:342)
2.29. It is alleged and reiterated that we do not love the institutions of our country. I say, and have so said for many years, that the Constitution and laws of the United States combine the best form of Government in force upon the earth. But does it follow that each officer of the Government administers with justice? No; for it is well known throughout our nation that very many of our public officers are as degraded, debased, corrupt, and regardless of right as men well can be.
I repeat that the Constitution, laws, and institutions of our Government are as good as can be, with the intelligence now possessed by the people. But they, as also the laws of other nations, are too often administered in unrighteousness; and we do not and cannot love and respect the acts of the administrators of our laws, unless they act justly in their offices. (JD 6:344)
2.30. The kingdom of God will be extended over the earth; and it is written, “I will make thine officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness” [Isa 60:17]. Is that day ever coming? It is; and the doctrine we preach leads to that point. Even now the form of the Government of the United States differs but little from that of the kingdom of God.
In our Government a President is elected for four years, and can be re-elected but once, thus limiting the time of any one person to but eight years at most. Would it not be better to extend that period during life or good behaviour; and when the people have elected the best man to that office, continue him in it as long as he will serve them? . . .
When the best man is elected President, let him select the best men he can find for his counsellors or cabinet . . .. Our Father in heaven does not visit every place in person to guide and administer the law to the people, and to do this, that, and the other: he never did and never will; but he has officers, whom he sends when and where he pleases, giving to them their credentials and missions, as does our Government to our fellow-men here. (JD 6:345)
2.31. The administrators of the Government of the United States violated every principle of the Constitution in the very act of making a war upon their own subjects; and if the laws of Congress were carried out, they would be treated as traitors to the Government. I was in Missouri through the troubles. Did this people transgress the law of that State or of the United States? Did they do anything to justly bring the wrath of that State or of the Government upon them? No. This people observed the laws of Missouri and the law of God more strictly than any other class. (JD 8:224)
2.32. Is the form of the Government ruined? Has its form become evil? No; but the administrators of the Government are evil. As we have said many times, it is the best form of human government man ever lived under; but it has as corrupt a set to administer it as God ever permitted to disgrace his footstool. (JD 8:321)
2.33. If our present happy form of government is sustained, which I believe it will be, it will be done by the people I am now looking upon, in connection with their brethren and their offspring. The present Constitution, with a few alterations of a trifling nature, is just as good as we want; and if it is sustained on this land of Joseph, it will be done by us and our posterity. Our national brethren do not know how to do it. They are not capable of controlling their own passions, to say nothing of ruling a nation. What is the reign of a king who cannot control his passions? Will not his subjects sorrow? Yes, they will feel the weight of his wrath, and their backs will ache, and their heads will ache, and they will receive the lash from a heavy hand. (JD 8:324)
2.34. I can tell all the world that we mean to sustain the Constitution of the United States and all righteous laws. (JD 9:157)
2.35. According to the Constitution of our Government, we have rights in common with our fellow-countrymen. We have a right to settle in any unoccupied and unclaimed part of the public domain owned by our Government, where the machinery of the Government has not extended, and there govern and control ourselves according to republican principles; and the Congress of the United States is not authorized in the least, by the Constitution that governs it, to make laws for the new settlement, and appoint adjudicators and administrators of the law for it . . . . In “Amendments to the Constitution of the United States,” articles nine and ten, it is definitely stated that “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”.. .”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.” . . .
We will cling to the Constitution of our country, and to the Government that reveres that sacred charter of freemen’s rights; and, if necessary, pour out our best blood for the defence of every good and righteous principle.
. . . The spirit and letter of our Constitution and laws will always give us our rights . . .
If we do not do this [form a state government], we are living beneath those rights set forth in the Declaration of Independence, and the privileges granted to us in the Constitution of the United States which our fathers bought so dearly for us. Let us unfurl the stars and stripes—the flag of our country; let us sustain the Constitution that our fathers have bequeathed to us in letters of blood; and those who violate it will have to meet the crushing and damning penalties that will bury them in the mire of everlasting disgrace. If we sustain it, it will be sustained; otherwise it will not. (JD 10:39–41)
2.36. If there is a people within the pales of this nation that is worthy of the constitution, good laws and institutions of the American Government, it is this people called Latter-day Saints. It is the best earthly Government that ever was framed by man, and the true and righteous are alone worthy of it. It cannot long be administered by wicked hands. “When the wicked rule, the people mourn” [D&C 98:9]. (JD 9:368)
2.37. Five hundred of our able-bodied men had been taken from us by the call of the Government, and went to fight the battles of their country. There are women and children sitting here to-day, whose husbands, sons and fathers went on that campaign to prove to our Government that we were loyal, who became widows and orphans in consequence of that requisition.
. . . We were accused of disloyalty, alienation, and apostacy [sic] from the Constitution of our country. We were accused of being secessionists. I am, so help me God, and ever expect to be a secessionist from their wickedness, unrighteousness, dishonesty and unhallowed principles in a religious point of view; but am I or this people secessionists with regard to the glorious Constitution of our country? No. Were we secessionists when we so promptly responded to the call of the General Government, when we were houseless and friendless on the wild prairies of Pottawattamie? I think not. We there told the brethren to enlist, and they obeyed without a murmur . . .
. . . I knew then as well as I do now that the Government would call for a battalion of men out of that part of Israel, to test our loyalty to the Government
. . . Have we not shown to the world that we love the Constitution of our country and its institutions better than do those who have been and are now distracting the nation? You cannot find a community, placed under the circumstances that we were, that would have done as we did on the occasion of furnishing the Mormon Battalion, after our leading men had been slain and we had been compelled to leave our farms, gardens, homes and firesides, while, at the same time, the general Government was called upon in vain to put a stop to such a series of abuses against an innocent people
After all this, to prove our loyalty to the Constitution and not to their infernal meanness, we went to fight the battles of a free country to give it power and influence, and to extend our happy institutions in others parts of this widely extended republic. In this way we have proved our loyalty. We have done everything that has been required of us. Can there anything reasonable and constitutional be asked that we would not perform? No . . .
. . . The outside pressure now is that this people, called the Latter-day Saints, are secessionists in their feelings, and alien to the Constitution and institutions of our country. This is entirely false. There is not another people upon the face of the earth that could have borne what we have, and still remain as loyal to our brethren as we have been and are. They might be displeased with some of the acts of the administrators of the law, but not with the Constitutional laws and institutions of the Government. (JD 10:105–08)
2.38. We are in the midst of these mountains, and we have good and salutary laws to govern us. We have our Constitutional laws and our Territorial laws; we are subject to these laws; and always expect to be, for we love to be. If there is any man among us who has violated any constitutional law, try the law upon him, and let us see whether there is any virtue in it, before we try the strong arm of despotism and tyranny. I stand for Constitutional law, and if any transgress, let them be tried by it, and, if guilty, suffer its penalty. (JD 10:109)
2.39. Had the rulers of our nation known how to sustain the Union to an everlasting continuance, this knowledge would have been beyond all price. Had they possessed wisdom to have maintained the nation in its true character, in all its liberal institutions built upon the Constitution and Declaration of Rights, the Government would have continued inviolate in truth and purity and power, and would have continued to increase in power, importance and extent. (JD 10:189)
2.40. The seeds of sin which are in them are sufficient to accomplish their destruction. Every government of the world has the seeds of its own destruction in itself.
I hope and trust and pray that the government of our country may remain, because it is so good; but if they cut off this, and cast out that, and institute another thing, they may destroy all the good it contains. This, I hope, they will not do; they cannot do it. I expect to see the day when the Elders of Israel will protect and sustain civil and religious liberty and every constitutional right bequeathed to us by our fathers, and spread those rights abroad in connection with the Gospel for the salvation of all nations. (JD 11:262–63)
2.41. I told General Thomas L. Kane, that friend to humanity, when he visited us in 1857, that the coming of that army was the entering wedge to split the Government of the United States in pieces, and that soon. He, of course, could not see how this could ever be. They then were in great prosperity, and were going to annex the whole continent and neighboring islands, and so continue to annex until the whole world should take shelter under our national banner. He only saw this from a political stand point, basing his expectations of such grand results upon the goodness of the Constitution and laws. I acknowledged to him that we have the best system of government in existence, but queried if the people of this nation were righteous enough to sustain its institutions. I say they are not, but will trample them under their feet. I told General Kane that the Government of the United States would be shivered to pieces. Will this Government ever be restored to its former peace and tranquility, and the institutions thereof ever be maintained and honored? If they are, it will be by this people. (JD 12:119–20)
2.42. Every organization of our government, the best government in the world, is crumbling to pieces. Those who have it in their hands are the ones who are destroying it. How long will it be before the words of the prophet Joseph will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people. It will not be many years before these words come to pass. (JD 12:204)
2.43. The first telegram that was ever sent over the transcontinental wire was by . . . President Brigham Young, . . . “Utah has not seceded, but is firm for the constitution and laws of our once happy country.” (JH [30 Apr 1889] 10; quoted by Heber J. Grant)
2.44. I want to say to every man, the Constitution of the United States, as formed by our fathers, was dictated, was revealed, was put into their hearts by the Almighty, who sits enthroned in the midst of the heavens; although unknown to them, it was dictated by the revelations of Jesus Christ, and I tell you in the name of Jesus Christ, it is as good as I could ask for. (Henry 678; also in Roberts, Mormonism 27–28)
2.45. That people [the Latter-day Saints], whom the very great majority have striven to obliterate, will step forward and continue to honor the Heaven-inspired Constitution bequeathed to us so rich a legacy by our forefathers. (Hansen 166; from the Brigham Young Papers, Coe Collection, Yale University Library)