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Church History Vol. 4 Chapter 31 Page 555


555 On January 12 the Edmunds-Tucker Bill was passed by the United States House of Representatives; and on the 13th it was referred to a conference committee by the United States Senate.

Of this measure the Herald for January 29 has this to say:

On the twelfth of January, the House of Representatives of the National Congress, passed the Edmunds-Tucker Bill, some of the provisions of which are very severe. The bill provides that the lawful husband or wife of any person prosecuted for bigamy, polygamy, or unlawful cohabitation, be a competent witness against the accused, and for the registration of all marriages, making it a misdemeanor for any person to violate the provision requiring such registration. It also does away with all the requirements of the territorial laws for the identification of the votes of electors at any election, and also all laws by reason of which the territorial courts have taken cognizance of cases for divorce, and the abolishment of the suffrage to woman in the territory of Utah. Penalties are provided for unlawful intercourse, and defining polygamy to be a marriage between one person of one sex and more than one person of another sex, declares it to be a felony. Another provision dissolves the corporation known as the Church of the Latter Day Saints, also the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company, and the Attorney General is directed to wind these incorporations up by process of court. All laws for the organization of the militia of the Territory and the creation of the Nauvoo Legion are annulled. Polygamists are not to vote, and a test oath is prescribed for those offering to vote, imposing the conditions that they will obey the laws of the United States, and especially the laws in respect to the crimes named in the Edmonds-Tucker and the original Edmunds acts. The judges and selectmen of the county and the probate courts are at once to be appointed by the President, and the justices of the peace, sheriffs, constables, and other county and district officers by the Governor.

This bill was sent to the Senate for their concurrence, but that body did not see fit to consent to the passage of the bill, and so appointed a committee of conference with the house, for the purpose of seeking a basis of unity of action. The passage of the bill as it appears was a surprise to many, who supposed that it was cast in the committee room and would stay there till too late for action at this term of Congress. What will be its fate now remains to be seen. We have looked to see some severe laws enacted against polygamy, by Congress, sooner or later, and which from the nature of the case we have regarded as a fatality, but these provisions are extraordinarily hard, possibly too severe. Having been persistently warning the people of Utah of what might be looked for if their peculiar transgression against the laws of God given in the church from 1831 to the death of the Seer was persisted in, we feel that we have not been remiss in our duty as a watchman, nor have we

(page 555)

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