The creation of the Utah Territory was partially the result of the petition sent by the Mormon pioneers
who had settled in the valley of the Great Salt Lake
starting in 1847. The Mormons, under the leadership of Brigham Young
, had petitioned Congress for entry into the Union as the State of Deseret
, with its capital as Salt Lake City
and with proposed borders that encompassed the entire Great Basin
and the watershed of the Colorado River
, including all or part of nine current U.S. states. The Mormon settlers had drafted a state constitution in 1849 and Deseret had become the de facto
government in the Great Basin by the time of the creation of the Utah Territory.
Following the organization of the territory, Young was inaugurated as its first governor on February 3, 1851. In the first session of the territorial legislature in September, the legislature adopted all the laws and ordinances previously enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Deseret.
Mormon governance in the territory was regarded as controversial by much of the rest of the nation, partly fed by continuing lurid newspaper depictions of the polygamy
practiced by the settlers, which itself had been part of the cause of their flight from the United States to the Great Salt Lake
basin after being forcibly removed from their settlements farther east.
Although the Mormons were the majority in the Great Salt Lake basin, the western area of the territory began to attract many non-Mormon settlers, especially after the discovery of silver at the Comstock Lode
in 1858. In 1861, partly as a result of this, the Nevada Territory
was created out of the western part of the territory. Non-Mormons also entered the easternmost part of the territory during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush
, resulting in the discovery of gold at Breckenridge
in Utah Territory in 1859. In 1861 a large portion of the eastern area of the territory was reorganized as part of the newly created Colorado Territory
The controversies stirred by the Mormon religion's dominance of the territory are regarded as the primary reason behind the long delay of 46 years between the organization of the territory and its admission to the Union in 1896 as the State of Utah
, long after the admission of territories created after it. In contrast, the Nevada Territory, although more sparsely populated, was admitted to the Union in 1864, only three years after its formation, largely as a consequence of the Union's desire to consolidate its hold on the silver mines in the territory. Colorado was admitted in 1876.
The evolution of the Utah Territory from its creation by Congress in 1850 to 1896, when statehood was granted
- ^ "FlagTerritorial.jpg". pioneer.utah.gov.
- ^ "Utah". World Statesmen. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- ^ Forstall, Richard L. (ed.). Population of the States and Counties of the United States: 1790–1990 (PDF) (Report). United States Census Bureau. pp. 3–4. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
- ^ a b Alford, Kenneth L. (2017). Utah and the American Civil War: The Written Record. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 801. ISBN 978-0-8061-5916-4.
- ^ Lemay, Kate Clarke; Goodier, Susan; Tetrault, Lisa; Jones, Martha (2019). Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence. Princeton University Press. p. 270. ISBN 9780691191171.
Unpopular Sovereignty: Mormons and the Federal Management of Early Utah Territory by Brent M. Rogers, 2017, University of Nebraska Press
Last edited on 7 May 2021, at 04:34
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