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Whited Sepulchres

November 19, 1869 — Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn NY
January 6, 1870 — Quincy MA


Utah is the most absolute tyranny, the most unmitigated despotism, on which the sun shines today. Utah and Mormonism is – BRIGHAM YOUNG! . . .  No crowed head of Europe has more power. You need to go beyond the worst and oldest despotisms of the ancients to find what power this man holds over the consciences and destinies and the lives of his people . . .

Polygamy is the cornerstone of their particular edifice . . . there is Brigham Young, we sill say, the great pillar of this whole system, a man without whom it would drop out of sight in twelve months, who carries the consciences of his followers about with him and the crimes manifold directly due and instigated by him, who has entered under his name a list of forty-three women whom he claims as his wives and lives with as such – a robber, and adulterer, a murderer. This man goes to Washington and senators and representatives and cabinet members call upon him and pay their respects to him, and invite him to their houses; and women – wives and mothers, too – give him a seat at their table and a place beside their daughters. Reverse the case: Suppose it was a woman who stood in Brigham Young’s place – nay, suppose it were even one of the forth-three wretched dupes whom he has gathered in his home – suppose that. “Not a supposable case,” say you, “quote another thing, a very different matter.” No, it is not. God recognizes no sexes, whatever paltry and infamous distinctions you or I may see fit to draw.

Looking at all this, I said, “Why meet it with such silence?” The papers have lately been filled with discussions of a deed, done younger in the city of New York; ministers have preached their sermons of denunciation. Editors have written their articles of denunciation. Society has spoken its speech of denunciation upon this matter. Good men and bad men, good women and bad men [saying], “But, I have been told these women are contented. They are satisfied, and if they are contented and satisfied, what business is it of yours?”

Contented! Why, good friends, you who say that and think the whole matter closed and the argument settled. I can take you out of this land into Persia, and I will show you that the women bought and sold in the shackles in the market places are contented! I can take you to India or Turkey and point out to you a long line of faces gathered behind the prison bars of harems and show that they are contented. I can take you to the plains of South America and Mexico and show you the Indian woman performing all the drudgery of her lord and master, and I will show you she is contented; or I can take you to country after country in Europe and point out to you a peasant woman harnessed to a dog or donkey, dragging a cart, and show you that she is contented. 

Nay, I can take you here in this, the afternoon of the nineteenth century, and the civilization of America, to this city on the alkaline plains, deserted of decency, forsaken of goodness, abandoned of God Himself, if there be such a spot under the sun, and I will show you beings there you are most defrauded and outraged by this system . . . 



Source: Dickinson, Anna Elizabeth. “White Sepulchres,” Titusville Morning Herald (Pennsylvania), March 24, 1870.