Murray And The Mormons by Edgar Wilson Nye

Story type: EssayGov. Murray, the gritty Gentile governor of Utah, would be noticed in a crowd. He is very tall, yet well proportioned, square-built and handsome. He was …

Story type: Essay

Gov. Murray, the gritty Gentile governor of Utah, would be noticed in a crowd. He is very tall, yet well proportioned, square-built and handsome. He was called fine looking in Kentucky, but the narrow-chested apostle of the abnormally connubial creed does not see anything pretty about him. Murray moves about through Salt Lake City in a cool, self-possessed kind of way that is very annoying to the church. Full-bearded, with brown moustache and dark hair parted a little to leeward of center; clothed in a diagonal Prince Albert coat, a silk hat and other clothes, he strolls through Zion like a man who hasn’t got a yelping majority of ignorant lepers, led by a remorseless gang of nickel-plated apostles, thirsting for his young blood. I really believe he don’t care a continental. The days of the avenging angel and the meek-eyed Danite, carrying a large sock loaded with buckshot, are over, perhaps; but only those who try to be Gentiles in a land of polygamous wives and anonymous white-eyed children, know how very unpopular it is. Judge Goodwin, of the Tribune, feels lonesome if he gets through the day without a poorly spelled, spattered, daubed and profane valentine threatening his life. The last time I saw him he showed me a few of them. They generally referred to him as a blankety blank “skunk,” and a “hound of hell.” He said he hoped I wound pardon him for the apparent egotism, but he felt as though the Tribune was attracting attention almost everyday. Some of these little billet-doux invited him to call at a trysting place on Tribune avenue and get his alleged brains scattered over a vacant lot. Most all of them threatened him with a rectangular head, a tin ear, or a watch pocket under the eye He didn’t seem to care much. He felt pleased and proud. Goodwin was always pleased with things that other men didn’t like much. In the old days, when he and Mark Twain and Dan DeQuille were together, this was noticed in him. Gov. Murray is the same way. He feels the public pulse, and says to himself: “Sometime there’s going to be music here by the entire band, and I desire to be where I shan’t miss a note.”

There are people who think the Mormons will not fight. Perhaps not. They won’t if they are let alone, and allowed to fill the sage brush and line the banks of the Jordan with juvenile nom de plumes. They are peaceful while they may populate Utah and invade adjoining territories with their herds of ostensible wives and prattling progeny; while they can bring in every year via Castle Garden and the stock yards palace emigrant car, thousands of proselyted paupers from every pest house of Europe, and the free-love idiots of America. But when Murray gets an act of congress at his back and a squad of nervy, gamy, law-abiding monogamous assistants appointed by the president under that act of congress to knock crosswise and crooked the Jim Crow revelations of Utah and Mormondom, you will see the fur fly, and the fragrant follower of a false prophet will rise up William Riley and the regular army will feel lonesome. I asked a staff officer in one of the territories last summer what would be the result if the Mormons, with their home drill and their arms and their devotion to home and their fraudulent religion, should awake Nicodemas and begin to massacre the Gentiles, and the regular army should be sent over the Wasatch range to quell the trouble.

“Why,” said he, “the white-eyed followers of Mormonism would kill the regular army with clubs. You can wear out a tribe of hostile Indians when the grass gives out and the antelope hunts the foothills, but the Mormons make everything they eat, drink and wear. They don’t care whether there’s tariff or free trade. They can make everything from gunpowder to a knit undershirt, from a $250 revelation to a hand-made cocktail. When a church gets where it can make such cooking whisky as the Mormons do, it is time to call for volunteers and put down the hydra-headed monster.”

If congress don’t step on a technicality and fall down, it looks like amusement ahead, and if a District of Columbia rule, or martial law, or tocsin of war is the result, Gov. Murray is a good style of war governor. He isn’t the kind of a man to put on his wife’s gossamer cloak and meander over into Montana. He would give the matter his attention, and you would find him in the neighborhood when the national government decided to sit down on disorderly conduct in Utah. The first lever to be used will be the great wealth of which the Mormon church and its members privately are possessed. Then the oleaginous prophet will get a revelation to gird up his loins and to load the double-barrel shotgun, and fire the culverin, and to knock monogamy into a cocked hat. Money first and massacre second. They can draw on their revelation supply house at three days, any time, for authority to fill the irrigation ditches of Zion with the blood of the Gentile and feed his vital organs to the coyote.

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