I rise, not for the purpose of delivering a lengthy address before
this assembly. I do not claim to be an orator, a statesmen, or a
politician; but I am an American citizen, in common with you all; and
I am proud of the name.
I look back upon my ancestors as American citizens also, not only from
the foundation of this republic, but from the first settlement of this
country. They were among the "Pilgrims" that landed upon our eastern
shore seven generations ago.
We have listened to a very eloquent address on the rise of the
American nation—on the achievement of our national Independence, in
relation to establishing the great platform of American liberty—viz.,
the American Constitution.
Much might be said upon each of these topics. Much might be said in
relation to the sufferings endured by the colonies before they
achieved their independence. Much might be said in relation to the
battles fought by our fathers to obtain that liberty which they and we
their children enjoy. It is not my intention to dwell upon these
subjects; but I will call your attention, upon this occasion, to some
of the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution of our country.
A few years sufficed to demonstrate the inadequacy of the "Articles of
Confederation," to obviate which the Constitution was established,
conferring increased power upon the General Government. That its power
might be clearly understood, Article X of the amendments was ratified
as follows—"The powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
states respectively, or to the people." It will be perceived that
there are no prohibitions upon citizens outside the boundaries
In the Constitution we find certain rights and privileges guaranteed
to ALL American citizens. We there find certain powers delegated to
the General Government, and certain powers reserved in the respective
State governments, or to American citizens.
We read, in the 4th section of the 4th article of the Constitution,
words to this effect—"The United States shall guarantee to every
State in this Union a Republican form of government." This one item in
the Constitution is a power granted to the American Congress—to the
American nation. They were limited by the Constitution in regard to
the form of government that should be established upon American soil.
They have not the right, by that Constitution, to organize a
government upon any other than Republican principles. They have not
the right to establish a monarchy upon this soil: the Constitution
forbids or prohibits their doing so. In a national capacity, under the
Constitution, they have not the right to guarantee any but a
Republican form of government, which government of right emanates from
the people to be governed. This is the very nature of a Republican
form of government, as we American citizens understand it. It differs
from various other governments whose history we have read. It differs
from the Republican governments of past ages. We read that Republican
governments existed in some of the ancient nations. They existed for a
short period, and then ceased. But their forms and the forms of the
governments now in the European nations are of a kind more or less
different from the one with which we, as American citizens, are blest.
It is not necessary, however, for me, in the few remarks I shall make,
to dwell upon the various kingdoms and empires of the old world.
Doubtless the citizens of Utah are sufficiently acquainted with the
history of those nations to know that our American Government differs
from them all in unreservedly granting to the people the power to
govern themselves—the power to appoint their own officers—the power to
enact their own laws; and Congress has no power granted by the
Constitution to interfere with that system. But the Congress, the
United States as a Union, are restricted in this particular; they are
prohibited from granting any other than a Republican form of
government upon the American continent.
Let us briefly turn our attention to the State Governments, and see if
the Parent Government has fulfilled its pledge, in the Constitution,
by granting Republican forms of government to the several States that
have been admitted into our Union. Yes, they have permitted them to
elect their own officers, enact their own laws, vote at Presidential
elections, and have a representation in Congress, and a voice and vote
in the governmental affairs of the nation.
How is it with the Territories? Is a Republican form of government
extended to the Territories, according to the spirit and letter of the
Constitution? In the first place, where can you find one item, from
the beginning to the end, that grants to Congress the right to
establish a Territorial government, unless petitioned by the people so
to do? It cannot be found. And should citizens in a Territory petition
Congress to grant to them a form of government, Congress are
restricted to granting a form strictly and fully Republican. Some urge
that a part of the 3rd section of Article IV—"The Congress shall have
power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations
respecting the Territory or other property belonging to the
United States," gives Congress the right to legislate for American
citizens who chance to reside in Territories. But the portion thus
relied upon relates only to the disposition of Government property,
and does not grant the power to dispose of the inhabitants that may
dwell upon the public lands in Territories, as though the people
thereof belonged to the United States as property.
My opinion is that Congress has no more power to exercise legislative
jurisdiction over American citizens in Territories than it has over
American citizens in States. In other words, that American citizens in
Territories, equally with those in States, have the plainly guaranteed
right to govern themselves. People from the various States settle upon
the public domain; and shall simply crossing an air line in the same
country prevent them from enjoying a Republican form of government,
having a voice in the selection of their rulers, and the privilege of
making their own laws without being subject to have them disapproved
by Congress? If this is not the case in the treatment of Territories,
I consider there is an infringement. It lies in the foundation—in the
organization itself. And should the people living upon the public
domain petition Congress to comply with certain conditions that were
in vogue in the old monarchial nations of the world, and have their
petitions granted according to its letter and spirit; they have no
reason to complain. Still, it is assumed power in Congress to grant a
But suppose we petition, in good faith, that Congress would notice
that part of the Constitution that directs the giving of a Republican
form of government, and we get something else, what shall we do then?
It may suit the condition of the people, and it may not.
There are many rights that are named in the Constitution, and many
that the Constitution says nothing about. These rights I shall not
attempt to define. We have rights in regard to observing the Sabbath,
and worshipping God according to the dictates of our conscience. We
also have social and political rights guaranteed to us and to all the
American people. All these might be taken up and reasoned upon; but
you are acquainted with them.
If I were to petition Congress, I should petition that this old relic
of the mother Government should be done away; and that when Congress
granted a Government, they should grant a Republican instead of a
monarchial one, and let all the people have the same privileges.
"But," says one, "there is a great disparity in numbers." What of
that? Look at New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and many of the old
States, where we find not only hundreds of thousands, but millions of
inhabitants, and then look at Rhode Island, Delaware, and Maryland,
and see the difference. If this disparity exists in States, why should
it be brought up against a Territory? Those smaller States have the
same representation in the Senate of the United States as the larger
ones. Why, then, bring up this disparity of numbers? Some say we must
not admit the Territories, because the disparity in Congress would be
so great. It is all folly to bring up this argument.
Having said this much upon the rights guaranteed to American citizens,
I will merely state that it is my opinion that it is the privilege of
people settling upon the public domain to form a Republican
"Provisional Government," according to the feelings of the people,
until Congress shall admit them into the Union.