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Smoot

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 24, 2012

Smoot

By Graham Eggerton (non-Mormon)

Many women, with the teachers
Of Sunday schools and preachers
Have been making things unpleasant for Reed Smoot;
Facts and logic don’t affect ‘em,
You can not disconnect ‘em
From the idea that “a Mormon is a brute.”

They declare that his admission
To the senate’s a condition
That no Christian country ever faced before;
Constitutional objections
They meet with genuflections
Prayers, petitions and round robins by the score.

With a zeal that’s so profound
They concede no middle ground,
And no redeeming feature will they see;
Smoot’s a Mormon, self-confessed!
That’s enough, they guess the rest,
He must pull his freight from Washington, D.C.

I don’t court the indignation
Of the Gentiles in this nation
By taking issue with their zeal in any way,
Yet it seems that they ignore
In their eagerness to score
Every principle of justice and fair play.

Those seeking to disgrace him
And from public life efface him
Have left unturned no stone to find a flaw;
Every secret has been bared
And his private life been aired
As surely never mortal’s was before!

Yet their efforts so laborious
Met with a doom inglorious
And the character they’ve ventured to disparage
Though by bitter tongues traduced,
Still no line of proof’s produced
That he practiced or defended plural marriage.

When the clamor and confusion
Did subside, the same conclusion
Was then reached, that no religious view,
Church doctrine, creed or tenet
Forfeits right to seat in senate,
Whether held by Dunkard, Mormon, by Catholic or Jew.

(1907)



5 Comments »

  1. Interesting little poem. Smoot served for a long time in the Senate, and became somewhat of a tariff guru. My recollection is that some of his bills that passed had the effect of raising prices on much needed foreign imports during the height of the depression, and may have contributed, along with other folks, to lengthening and deepening the great depression.

    If that sounds snarky, I did not mean it to be. He stands as an important figure in establishing that no religious test could be applied to federal offices, but it came too late for BH Roberts, who was denied his seat in the House of Representatives a few years earlier.

    Comment by kevinf — May 24, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

  2. That’s the problem with a politician having a name like Smoot. It’s so good for doggerel verse. Thinking of Ogden Nash and his poem about the newspaper headline “Smoot smites smut.”

    Comment by Amy T — May 24, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

  3. It’s just too bad that nobody named an office building after him, since it could then be called “the Smoot Office Building,” and, for short, “the SOB.”

    Comment by Mark B. — May 24, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

  4. Ah, that last line. No, I don’t suppose that the fourth word has a typo–the Senate has had many drunkards and I’m not so sure that it hasn’t been a better place because of them. But no, the writer must be referring to a German Baptist sect noted for their baptisms which involved multiple immersions (once for the Father, once for the Son and once for the Holy Spirit).

    They were at various times and places called Dunkards or Dunkers and there have been a large handful of other sects that have split from them.

    Their most famous appearance is probably on the battlefield at Antietam. They were pacifists and didn’t fight. But a little white clapboard Dunker Church stood on the northwest edge of the battlefield, and overlooked some of the bloodiest fighting of that terrible day, as Union troops attacked from the north through a wheat field and towards the Confederates’ position in a sunken lane that, as so many others in the Civil War, became known by the adjective “bloody.” [Lest our British readers wonder, that was a fully American “bloody” and referred to the terrible carnage that took place there.]

    Comment by Mark B. — May 24, 2012 @ 9:25 pm

  5. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by David Y. — May 24, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

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