In the year of 1903, the right of Reed Smoot to take his seat in the United States Senate was challenged in a protest signed by nineteen prominent citizens from Utah. The protest was submitted to the Senate Committee of Privileges and Elections, a member of which was Fred T. Dubois, Senator from Idaho. The protest charged that the Mormon Church was still practicing polygamy and exercising political domination of its members and that therefore Reed Smoot, an Apostle and leader of this church, was unfit for senatorial obligations. Dubois, believing the worst concerning these charges, took it upon himself to head the movement against Smoot. He surreptitiously organized national sentiment and caused an investigation of the charges contained in the protest by bringing public pressure to bear on the United States Senate.
The Mormon Church turned out to be more the object of the investigation than Smoot. It looked for awhile as though Dubois would be successful in unseating Smoot, but as the case wore on the opposition of the Republican Party, the press, and President Theodore Roosevelt proved to be too much for him. From the time he took up this anti-Mormon fight his lack of success in politics seems to parallel his unsuccessful efforts to get Smoot kicked out of the Senate. In 1906, just prior to the time that the Senate voted to retain Smoot, Dubois himself, was defeated in his bid to be returned to the Senate.
Dubois' anti-Mormon fight was a popular issue everywhere but in the west and particularly Idaho. He had plenty of warning that such was the case but he couldn't be reconciled to the fact that the people of Idaho wouldn't accept his anti-Mormonism. His self-deception relative to the iniquities of the Mormon Church were absolute and sincere but fatal to his political asperations.
President Roosevelt undoubtedly contributed most to Dubois' defeat. But, it wasn't just his defeat. To the very end he had the sentiment of the women's organizations throughout the country behind him. This probably contributed much to his reluctance to accept the "handwriting on the wall."
Dubois used this Smoot controversy for political purposes, but more important than this was the fact that he sincerely thought he was on the side of right and that in the end it would be victorious.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Political Science
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Lowe, Jay R., "Fred T. Dubois, Foe of the Mormons: A Study of the Role of Fred T. Dubois in the Senate Investigation of the Hon. Reed Smoot and the Mormon Church, 1903-1907" (1960). All Theses and Dissertations. 4889.
Frederick T. Dubois, Frederick Thomas, 1851-1930, Reed Smoot, 1862-1941, Mormons, Polygamy