No. 204.
Mr. Hoppin to Mr. Evarts.

No. 39.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt on the 25th ultimo, of your instruction No. 354, to Mr. Welsh in relation to Mormon emigration from this country to the United States.

I lost no time in transmitting its contents to Lord Salisbury, and I herewith inclose a copy of my letter. To this I have not as yet received any reply.

Your instruction stated that the United States consular officers in this country had been directed to communicate to this legation such information in regard to the subject in question as might come to their knowledge. I have not, however, up to this time, heard anything from them in relation to it.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 39.]

My Lord: The annual statistics of immigration into the United States show that large number of emigrants come to that country every year, from the various nations of Europe, for the avowed purpose of joining the Mormon community at Salt Lake, in the Territory of Utah, under the auspices and guidance of the emissaries and agents of that community in foreign parts. This representation of the interests of Mormonism abroad, which has been carried on for years, is understood to have developed unusual activity of late, especially in Great Britain among other countries where it has unfortunately obtained a greater or less foothold.

The system ot polygamy, which is prevalent in the community of Utah, is largely based upon and promoted by these accessions from Europe, drawn mainly from the ignorant classes, who are easily influenced by the double appeal to their passions and their poverty held out in the flattering picture of a home in the fertile and prosperous region where Mormonism has established its material seat.

Inasmuch as the practice of polygamy is based upon a form of marriage, by which additional wives are “sealed” to the men of that community, these so-called “marriages” are pronounced by the laws of the United States to be crimes against the statutes of the country, and punishable as such.

[Page 451]

On the 1st of July, 1882, the Congress of the United States passed an act, chapter cxxvi, expressly designed, as appears from the title, “to punish and prevent the practice of polygamy in the Territories of the United States, and other places,” &c., That act remains the law of the land as to its continuing provisions, which, in the revision of the statutes of the United States, made in 1874, reads as follows:

Sec. 5352. Every person having a husband or wife living, who marries another, whether married or single, in a Territory or other place over which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction, is guilty of bigamy, and shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, and by imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; but this section shall not extend to any person, by reason of any former marriage, whose husband or wife by such marriage is absent for five successive years, and is not known to such to be living; nor to any person by reason of any former marriage which has been dissolved by decree of a competent court; nor to any person by reason of any former marriage which has been pronounced void by decree of a competent court on the ground of nullity of the marriage contract.”

Whatever doubt, if any, has heretofore existed as to the efficiency of the law above cited, and the intent of the general government to enforce it, has now been terminated by the recent decision of the Supreme Court, the highest judicial tribunal of the land, sustaining the constitutionality of this legislation, and affirming the conviction and punishment of offenders against that law.

Under whatever specious guise the subject may be presented by those engaged in instigating the European movement to swell the numbers of the law-defying Mormons of Utah, the bands and organizations which are got together in foreign lands as recruits cannot be regarded as otherwise than a deliberate and systematic attempt to bring persons to the United States with the intent of violating their laws and committing crimes expressly punishable under the statute as penitentiary offenses.

No friendly power will, of course, knowingly lend its aid, even indirectly, to attempts made within its borders against the laws and government of a country wherewith it is at peace, with established terms of amity and reciprocal relations of treaty between them; while, even were there no question involved of open penal infraction of the laws of the land, every consideration of comity should prevail to prevent the territory of a friendly State from becoming a resort or refuge for the crowds of misguided men and women whose offences against morality and decency would be intolerable in the land from whence they came.

Mr. Evarts, in his instruction to Mr. Welsh upon this subject (which has arrived since Mr. Welsh’s departure), after mentioning the above-recited facts and conclusions, further states that it is not doubted, when the subject is brought to its attention, that the Government of Great Britain will take such steps as may be compatible with its laws and usages to check the organization of these criminal enterprises by agents who are thus operating beyond the reach of the law of the United States, and to prevent the departure of those proposing to go thither as violators of the law by engaging in such criminal enterprises, by whomsoever instigated.

Mr. Welsh was, therefore, instructed, and I have the honor, as the chargé d’affairs of the United States ad interim, to present the matter to the Government of Great Britain through your lordship, and to urge earnest attention to it, in the interest, not merely of a faithful execution of the laws of the United States, but of the peace, good order, and morality which are cultivated and sought to be promoted by all civilized countries.

I may, probably, have the honor, in some future communications, to fortify my representations on this subject, by citing such facts and details as may come to my notice concerning emigration of this character from Great Britain, and I beg to bespeak for them your lordship’s careful attention.

I have, &c.,