Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/171

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159
MORMONISM FROM A MORMON POINT OF VIEW.

Rocky Mountains demand only that amount of civil and religious liberty which the Constitution professes to guarantee to every American citizen, and which the Pilgrim Fathers found for themselves "on the wild New England shore." They complain that their enemies have told their story, that their own statements have been ignored, and that no credit has been given to them for an honest attempt, in these latter days, to put in practice the doctrines of the early Christian Church. Even their enemies will hardly deny that they displayed faith, courage, and endurance, when they resolved, after being expelled from one settlement after another, to plunge into the unknown wilderness, and to found a new Zion beyond the existing limits of the United States. These qualities have triumphed over great physical difficulties, and a stranger is astonished at the prosperity which Mormon industry has produced. A carefully-organized system of irrigation has converted a barren desert into a productive garden, and has had the remarkable effect of raising the permanent level of the lake ten feet higher than it was in 1850. Every requirement of the religious community is abundantly supplied by contributions, assessed and collected upon voluntary principles. Besides the immense new Tabernacle, a temple is now in course of construction, almost Egyptian in its massive grandeur, toward which all the faithful contribute, those who cannot afford money giving their labor. The Indians in Utah have been conciliated by the humane policy of feeding, clothing, and teaching, instead of fighting them. The old accusations of violence and cruelty toward Gentile immigrants, or Mormon deserters, if not altogether disproved, have at least been lived down in recent times, and the existence of a military camp near Salt Lake City is now, probably, more unnecessary than it would be at any other town west of the Rocky Mountains. In order to appreciate the tranquillity, sobriety, and steady industry of Deseret (as the Mormons prefer to name their country), it may be contrasted with Nevada, an adjoining State almost identical with Deseret as to soil, climate, and mineral products. The so-called Silver State stands now preeminent in the Union for its turbulent manners, for the number of its liquor shops, and as being the only State which legalizes public gambling of course, Nevada is merely passing through a certain rude stage of her existence, just as California had done before her, and she, too, will one day set her house in order; the remarkable point is that Utah should, alone among the young communities of the far West, have altogether escaped such a condition of things. To many persons this will appear to be sufficiently explained by the fact that the Mormons both preach and practise habits of extreme temperance, almost amounting to total abstinence from every sort of stimulant.

Considerable hostility undoubtedly exists between the Mormons and some of their Gentile fellow-residents; this is greatly due to the bitter attacks of certain local newspapers upon the Latter-day Saints,