To this, General Johnston of the army was very much opposed. The president had sent him with an army to put the governor into his office, aided by sword and cannon; but now, if the governor could enter peaceably upon his duties there would be no need of him or his soldiers. The general didn’t like it a bit; but nevertheless, Governor Cumming went with Colonel Kane to Salt Lake City in charge of some of the Utah militia.
Governor Cumming was received with the respect due such an officer, and duly installed into his position. He found the records and books of the courts safe, and learned that the reports which had led the president to send the army were not true.
The new governor was a good man. He said the troops would have to come into the valley in the spring, but the people’s rights would be respected, and no harm should be done to any of them. The Saints, however, could not trust the army. They remembered the scenes of the past, and resolved that they should not be enacted over again in the valleys of Utah. So, early in the spring, the order came for all the Saints to pack up their goods, get together their stock, and move southward, leaving their deserted homes in the care of a few guards who were to set fire to everything should the army attempt to locate in the settlements.
On seeing the Saints thus leaving their hard-earned homes, the kind-hearted old governor entreated them not to do so, promising them full protection. When his wife arrived from the camp of the army and saw the towns lonely and deserted, she burst into tears and pleaded with her husband to bring the people back. The governor, however, could do nothing. The 30,000 people in Salt Lake City and northward took all their goods and moved south, most of them into Utah Valley.
President Buchanan, now having learned the true condition of affairs, sent two gentlemen to arrange for peace. They arrived in Salt Lake in June and had a number of meetings with the leading brethren who came from the south for that purpose. A letter was read from President Buchanan which, after telling of the many crimes committed by the “Mormons” against the government, offered to pardon all who would submit to the laws. In reply President Young said that he and his brethren had simply stood up for their rights, and they had done nothing to be pardoned for, except, perhaps the burning of some government trains, and for that act they accepted the President’s pardon. President Young then said they were willing the troops should come into the country. They might march through the city but they were not to make a camp less than forty miles away. “No mobs shall live in the homes we have built in these mountains,” said the president. “That’s the program, gentlemen, whether you like it or not. If you want war, you can have it; but, if you want peace, peace it is; and we shall be glad of it.” After the meetings the brethren went back to the Saints in the south.