Quote Category: ‘Equal Rights’
I wish to say this, there isn’t a feeling in my soul, nor in any fibre of my being that is disloyal to the government of the United States or to the desire that we have in our souls to maintain the principles of individual and National liberty, justice and freedom that have been established in the Constitution of our country. I believe in the Constitution of the United States. I believe in the principles which that instrument promulgates — the freedom of mankind to do right, to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, freedom to pursue their way in peace and to observe and maintain their rights, their freedom, their liberties, and justly recognize and equally preserve and defend their rights, freedom and liberty of their neighbors and of their fellow beings — and of all God’s creatures. I believe that the Constitution of the United States was and still is an inspired instrument. The Lord God Almighty inspired the minds that framed it, and I believe it ought to be most sacredly preserved. It is worthy of the defense and should be upheld by all the people of our land.
We thank thee, O God of Israel, that thou didst raise up patriotic men to lay the foundation of this great American government. Thou didst inspire them to frame a good constitution and laws which guarantee to all of the inhabitants of the land equal rights and privileges to worship thee according to the dictates of their own consciences. Bless the officers, both judicial and executive. Confer abundant favors upon the President, his Cabinet, and Congress. Enlightened and guided by thy Spirit may they maintain and uphold the glorious principles of human liberty. . . .
Show unto them that we are their friends, that we love liberty, that we will join with them in upholding the rights of the people, the Constitution and laws of our country; and give unto us and our children an increased disposition to always be loyal, and to do everything in our power to maintain Constitutional rights and the freedom of all within the confines of this great Republic.
The benefits of the constitution & law is [sic] for all alike & the great [E]loheem [sic] God has given me the privilege of having the benefits of the constitution.
The Saints feel dispose [sic] to exercise those rights which the Constitution & Laws of the United States guarrentee [sic] unto us equal with all other citizens in attending the elections & voting for whom we please.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And then you would have “further truths from the teachings of the Prophet [Joseph Smith].” … And he taught us relating to the Kingdom of God, as it would become organized upon the earth through “all nations learning war no more,” and all adopting the God-given constitution of the United States as a Paladium [sic] of Liberty and Equal Rights.
The aspirations and expectations of a virtuous people, environed with so wise, so liberal, so deep, so broad, and so high a charter of equal rights as appears in said Constitution, ought to be treated by those to whom the administration of the laws is entrusted with as much sanctity as the prayers of the Saints are treated in heaven, that love, confidence, and union, like the sun, moon, and stars, should bear witness,
“For ever singing as they shine, The hand that made us is Divine!”.
…I will adopt in part the language of Mr. Madison’s inaugural address: “…to hold the union of the States as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities.”