Mr. Risley to Mr. Sherman.

No. 161.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that I have received a petition from C.N. Lund, who describes himself as president of the Scandinavian Mission of the Mormon Church, accompanied by an affidavit of J. J. Jensen and Joseph Larsen, missionaries, in which are set forth several grievances, and asking my intervention and protection on the ground that they are American citizens.

I have no reasons to doubt the truth of the statements contained in these papers, but, in view of the general instruction No. 181 and of the facts complained of being rather of a general policy than of any particular case of pressing urgency, I am not inclined to investigate or take any action until the matter shall have been submitted for your consideration and instruction.

As original documents are more forceful than any copy, I inclose said originals, with a respectful request that after consideration they be returned to this legation.

I am under the impression that by the vigorous action of the United States Government polygamy has been effectually suppressed; and the provisions of the constitution of Utah and conditions of her admission into the Union as a State, as well as the laws of the United States and, I hope, more enlightened views among the Mormons themselves, render it highly improbable that that system can ever be revived in Utah or elsewhere in the United States, or that even an attempt at such revival is likely to ever be made. Under these circumstances you may think it advisable to reconsider and perhaps modify instruction No. 181.

I beg to submit the whole matter for consideration and instruction.

I have made no answer to the petition. Indeed, I can not answer, as no address is given; but it is probable that the petitioner intends to call at this legation. If he shall do so before your instructions are received I will inform him of the reference to the department.

I have, etc.,

John E. Risley.
[Page 122]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 161.]

Mr. Lund to Mr. Risley.

Sir: As citizens of the United States of America temporarily residing in this country, feeling ourselves aggrieved on account of the treatment received from the officers of the Danish Government, we most respectfully petition your excellency to use your influence in our behalf, that we may be accorded the same protection and privileges under the laws of this country as are given to other foreigners.

Representing as we do the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we desire to state that for the past few years our missionaries have from time to time been subject to arrests and banishment, and that through a procedure which we do not think is warranted under the constitution of this country—that is, they have been summoned to appear before the officers of the law simply to hear the decree of banishment read to them, with a demand for them to leave the country at once, and as a rule they have been escorted out by the police officials, having had no specific charges preferred against them or been given any chance of a defense.

If we break any law, we shall not complain if we have to suffer the consequences, but as American citizens who are quietly and peaceably pursuing our labors as missionaries, preaching nothing but the doctrines of Christ and offending no one, we protest against the treatment herein referred to, and we object to being dealt with like criminals and felons without knowing wherein we have offended.

We have at present from forty to fifty missionaries laboring in this country, not in a corner, but openly and publicly all over the land, and we are glad to say that in the great majority of cases we have been able to pursue our labors unhindered. Only now and then from some obscure corner of the land we hear of arrests and banishment. We can scarcely believe that it is the intention of the Government in this, our native land, where religious toleration is so well established, to thus deal with us, but are inclined to the belief, as we are also informed, that the complaints against us come from ministers of the gospel in the Church of the State, who may have unkind feelings toward us on account of our different views in regard to religion or the interpretation of the Word of God.

We have submitted, by affidavit hereunto attached, the facts as they have come to us in the recent case, and earnestly hope that you will give it your kind attention and afford us such aid as it shall be within your power to do.

We ask for no favors that can not legitimately be accorded to others under similar conditions, but we do desire, and shall insist, that we be permitted to stand on common ground with other foreigners who are sojourning here for similar purposes, and that we shall not, because we happen to represent an unpopular church, be singled out and discriminated against.

We fully believe that your excellency, as an honored representative of a great and free Government, will do all in your power to secure its citizens here in the enjoyment of all the privileges that they can lawfully claim, and your humble petitioners and fellow-citizens will be ever grateful.

C. N. Lund,
President for the Skandinavask Mission.
[Page 123]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 161.]

On this 15th day of March, A. D. 1897, before me, Peter M. Flensburg, personally appeared Jens Jorgen Jensen and Joseph Larsen, who, after being duly sworn, severally depose and say:

That they are citizens of the United States of America, members and missionaries of the church known as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” and have as such been laboring in Bornholn, Denmark, for more than six months past.

That they have not during said period of time solicited pecuniary aid from anyone, but have preached the Word free of charge and made gratuitous distributions of their church literature; that the public gatherings held by them have been conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner; that in conformity with their church rules the doctrine of polygamy has in no instance been advocated by them, and that they have not, so far as their knowledge extends, at any time or in any manner violated the laws of the land.

That notwithstanding these facts they were, on the 16th day of February, A. D. 1897, summoned and appeared before the mayor of the city of Bonne, who questioned them regarding their birth, occupations at home and here, citizenship, future intentions, etc., and thereupon dismissed them.

That again, March 1, 1897, they were summoned before the same official, who read to them a decree of banishment issued by the minister of justice, and when asked the cause he stated, “You are Mormon missionaries working for the Mormon Church.”

That thereupon they were ordered to take steamer next day for Copenhagen, where upon their arrival they were met by police officials and escorted to the court-house, when after a few hours’ detention they were released and commanded to leave the country.

That this command was complied with by Jens Jorgen Jensen on March 4, A. D. 1897, and by Joseph Larsen March 10, A. D. 1897.

That throughout all these proceedings no specific charge or complaint against them has come to their knowledge, and they have been given no opportunity for defense.

  • J. J. Jensen,
  • Joseph Larsen.

Subscribed and sworn to before me at Malmo this 15th day of March, A. D. 1897.

Pet. M. Flensburg,
United States Consular Agent at Malmo, Sweden.