It was a strange social system, this, with Brigham Young and his coterie of advisers, to the number of twenty-six, standing at the head, self-perpetuating, the chief being able to select constantly to fill the ranks as they might be depleted by death; and all these ruling over one solid mass of equal caste who thought that the rulers were animated by divine revelation, holding the right to govern in all things on earth and with authority extending into heaven.
So firmly intrenched was their social system that when Brigham Young passed away his various successors who came in time to his place by accident of seniority of service found ample opportunity without difficulty to perpetuate this system and to maintain their social autocracy. As the matter has appeared so fully before the country, I will not speak further of the method of succession, but will merely call to your minds that after Brigham Young came John Taylor, then Wilford Woodruff, then Lorenzo Snow, then Joseph F. Smith, the present ruler.
Under these several men the social autocracy has had its varying fortunes, but at the present time it is probably at as high a point as it ever reached under the original Joseph or under Brigham Young. The president of the church, Joseph F. Smith, affects a regal state. His home consists of a series of villas, rather handsome in design, and surrounded by such ample grounds as to afford sufficient exclusiveness. In addition to this he has an official residence of historic character near to the office which he occupies as president. When he travels he is usually accompanied by a train of friends, who are really servitors. When he attends social functions he appears like a ruler among his subjects. And in this respect I am not speaking of Mormon associations alone, for there are many Gentiles in and out of Utah who seem to take delight in paying this extraordinary deference.
If I have seemed to speak at length upon this mere social phase it has not been without a definite purpose. I want you to know how this religion, claiming to recognize and secure the equality of men, immediately established and has maintained for the mass of its adherents that social equality, but has elevated a class of its rulers to regal authority and splendor. Understanding how the chief among them has the dignity of a monarch in their social relations, you will better understand the business and political autocracy which he has been able to establish.