“Women are as free here as anywhere to marry agreeably with their own views and choice”—Young responds to a young recruit, assuring her that the journey to Utah “is each day becoming easier as the railroad progresses”
LS, one page both sides, 5 x 8, June 19, 1868. Written from Salt Lake City, a letter to "Miss Jane Ire, Barrington, Yates County, Pennsylvania, Care of John Johnson, Esq.," in full: "In reply to your note of May 22, I have to inform you that any one of our faithful Elders or members, with whom you may meet, will give you 'reliable' information concerning our religious faith and doctrines and our views as to the wisest and best course of conduct in the affairs of this life.
We believe and are striving to obey the same gospel that our Savior taught while upon this earth, obedience to which is blest with the same gifts and blessings enjoyed by the Saints in former days, our God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—being unchanjable, as also is His plan of salvation and the priesthood or authority for administering in its ordinances.
Women are as free here as anywhere to marry agreeably with their own views and choice, obedience to every requirement of Heaven being voluntary, in accordance with the agency granted to the human family.
Journeying to Utah is each day becoming easier as the railroad progresses, from the terminus of which stages run daily; there are also frequent opportunities for continuing one's journey from that point with small companies, should stage traveling be deemed too fatiguing. Trusting that my reply may prove, satisfactory." In very good to fine condition, with some faint toning, and splitting to the ends of the top fold. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope.
The growth of the Mormon Corridor in the mid-19th century ignited the national topic of polygamy, much to the chagrin of the U.S. government. In 1862, Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, which prohibited plural marriage in the territories, but Mormons, believing that it was a part of their religious freedom, continued its practice, with this line from Young stating as much:“Women are as free here as anywhere to marry agreeably with their own views and choice.” In keeping with women’s rights, Utah territory women, in 1870, were the first to cast ballots in the United States after the start of the suffrage movement. This breakthrough, however, was ultimately another federal attempt to eliminate polygamy; east coast congressmen and suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony’s National Woman Suffrage Association, assumed that if Utah women were enfranchised, they would vote against leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and end its practice of plural marriage.
The 1869 completion of the Union Pacific Railroad was aided greatly by the people of Utah, and in particular the Mormons, pioneers who blazed the trail for much of the route of the railroad. A year earlier on May 21, 1868, Brigham Young, anxiously seeking work projects for his people, signed a contract between himself and Samuel B. Reed, superintendent of construction for Union Pacific, for the Mormons to do one million dollars' worth of grading, tunneling, and bridge work for UP from the Utah-Wyoming border west to the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Mormon labor on the transcontinental railroad mirrored the organization of the LDS Church, with Young assigning the work to subcontractors, who included Bishop John Sharp of Salt Lake City, acting superintendent of public works for the Utah Territory, and Brigham's three oldest sons, Joseph, Brigham, Jr., and John W. Young.
Despite the many voices that declared that a railroad would usher in the end of the Mormons, Young and most other Utahns were anxious to have the overland railroad. The church welcomed construction and through it successfully promoted a number of interior branch railroads to connect Morman settlements with it. Young’s enthusiasm was routinely voiced from the Salt Lake Tabernacle and in his private and public correspondence: ‘Speaking of the completion of this railroad, I am anxious to see it, and I say to the Congress of the United States, through our Delegate, to the Company, and to others, hurry up, hasten the work! We want to hear the iron horse puffing through this valley. What for? To bring our brethren and sisters here.’