Utah

lake, salt, government, plural, church, union, mormon, laws and capital

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The meeting of the Union Pacific and Cen tral Pacific lines at Promontory, Utah, 10 May 1869, was an occasion of general rejoicing. The point of junction was soon moved to Ogden, 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, and between these towns was built by home capital, in 1869-70, the Utah Central, the first local rail road, with Brigham Young as its president. A similar line south of the capital immediately followed. These roads, with others subse quently constructed, were absorbed by the Union Pacific, which held an unbroken monop oly of the railroad business in Utah until March 1883, when the Denver and Rio Grande was completed to Salt Lake City.

Utah's earliest merchants outside the Mor mon community, and excepting Captain Grant, of Fort Hall (Ida.), representing the Hudson Bay Company, were from the East. Living stone and Kinkead, a Saint Louis firm, freighted a large stock of merchandise across the plains in the autumn of 1849. Goods were also brought from southern California. During the early days of money scarcity, exchange and bar ter was the rule — the dry goods and groceries of the merchant for the products of farm, orchard, mill and workshop; the latter utilized at home or converted into cash in distant mar kets. The first settlers coined California gold dust and made and used paper money until the national coins became sufficiently plentiful. The greatest commercial enterprise that Utah has known — Zion's Co-operative Mercantile In stitution — was organized in October 1868, the object being to unify the interests of the old settlers in the face of unfriendly competition. This great house is still in existence though no longer an exclusively Mormon institution. It has an annual trade of over $6,000,000.

Many changes resulted from the coming of the railroad. Population and capital poured into Utah; the mines, hitherto unprofitable, be gan to pay; railroads and telegraphs were ex tended, manufactures and an im petus was given to trade and industrialism in general. The Deseret News, the pioneer jour r:7.1 of the Rocky Mountains, established in lime 1850, soon had two powerful rivals, the Salt Lake Herald and the Salt Lake Tr:bune. the former independent, the latter anti-Mor mon in tone. The Tribune was the mouthpiece of the Liberal party, between which and the People's party a long and hitter fight was waged, a period of friction between Mormon and Gentile, strongly reminiscent of the historic feuds of Guelph and Ghibelline. Churches and schools also multiplied, supplementing the work of those already established, both secular and parochial. All these, with the State University, founded in February 1850, and the old diitrict schools, now merged into a splendid free school system dating from 1890, have placed Utah in advance, educationally, of most of the States in the Union. The percentage of illiter acy for native whites is 0.4, and for the entire population, including foreign born, but 2.5.

Brigham Young, the founder of Utah, dying in August 1877, was succeeded as head of the Mormon Church by John Taylor. During the latter's administration the Federal government, by its courts and prosecuting officers, began pro ceedings for the suppression of plural marriage, commonly called polygamy, which had been a tenet of the Mormon since July 1843, when Joseph Smith introduced it in Illinois. Never at any time did more than 3 per cent of the Latter-day Saints practise it. All, however, or practically all, believed it a divine institution, the restored marriage system of the Hebrew patriarchs, eugenically designed, under strict moral regulations, for the production of a su perior race. Some of the best men and- women in the community assumed its obligations, and did so with the worthiest motives, from a pro found religious conviction. Plural marriage was not the Oriental polygamy of modern times. The harem or seraglio was unknown. Plurality of wives constituted the "polygamy". or "many marriages"— this being the definition of that somewhat misleading term. Each wife had a separate home, with her own children around her, and, as stated by Capt. Howard Stansbury, who conducted a government survey of the Great Salt Lake in 1849-50 (consult bury's Expedition'), the plural wife stood "in the same relation to the man as the wife that was first married," the union thus formed being °considered a perfectly virtuous and honorable cne." But the government, influenced by popular religious prejudice, set its face against this pe culiar institution, and under legislation enacted by Congress in 1862, 1882 and 1887, polygamists were rigorously prosecuted; the result being the eventual relinquishment of the inhibited prac tice, out of deference to the laws of the land. This, however, was not until nearly 1,000 per sons had been fined and imprisoned for infrac tions of those statutes, aimed as they believed at "an establishment of religion," with which Congress, by the constitution of the United States, was forbidden to interfere. In addition to those who suffered fine and imprisonment, many more were driven into exile, President Taylor himself dying in that condition. More over, the Church property, amounting to nearly $1,000,000, was temporarily confiscated— for feited and escheated to the government. Not until the special laws enacted against this fea ture of their faith had been thoroughly tested and pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort would the Latter-day Saints yield the point; so strong was their conviction—a conviction shared by many outside the Church — that those laws violated the rights of con science and were an infringement upon reli gious liberty. But the final decree having been uttered, the Church bowed in submission and agreed in General Conference, October 1890, that no more plural marriages should be sol emnized under its sanction.

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