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Utah Governments

Identifies the different forms of government found in Utah through since it was settled (i.e. historic and current American Indian government, State of Deseret, Utah Territory, statehood- era, present).

Chris Snodgress

on 7 June 2011

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Transcript of Utah Governments

Within a few years of arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Church leaders held a convention to write a constitution that would create the "State of Deseret".
The proposed boundaries were large.
The first form of government in Utah was a Theocracy. Church leaders were also the government leaders. The High Council was in charge. It passed and carried out laws. It tried cases. A marshal enforced the laws.
How many times was statehood denied and why?
In 1850, Congress refused the first request for statehood for the proposed "State of Deseret" based on the lack of the requisite number of eligible voters and the huge size of the state.
Instead, President Millard Fillmore signed into law on September 9, 1850 the bill creating the Utah territory with a new border. This was the first step on the path to statehood.
All of Utah's people live under the rules and laws of our national government. American Indians who live on reservations also live under a tribal government. Indians have "tribal sovereignty," or self-rule. They are "nations within nations" and have their own governments and leaders.
Congress renamed the territory after the Ute Indians.
Fillmore appointed Brigham Young as the first governor along with a secretary and three judges (all outsiders).
Congress also reduced the size of the new territory.
Governor Young colonized over 300 new towns all over the territory.
The early Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 4, 1847. Their determination and hard work led to . . . .
Utahns sought statehood six different times. Roadblocks had to be overcome.
What were those roadblocks?
The major point of contention was the Mormon's practice of polygamy. Congress demanded an end to polygamy and political parties had to model after the national parties. The People's Party (mostly Mormons) and the Liberal Party (mostly non-Mormons) were dissolved.
After six attempts for statehood, a state constitution was again written by 107 men. It took them 60 days to complete. Would the President and Congress deny them again?
Utah’s constitution, with amendments, is one of the few original state constitutions still in force. Most other states have completely rewritten their constitutions.
There were certain conditions that had to be met before Congress and President Cleveland would give their approval.
As a territory, the federal government paid many of the costs of government; even the capitol building.
A two party system was established by arbitrarily dividing the membership of the church equally into two groups. The dissolution of the People's Party caused President Cleveland to send a telegram of "Congratulations to the Democracy of this Territory on their organization."
However, territories could not vote for a president. They could send a delegate to Congress, but they could not vote. At home Utahns could not elect their own judges and only part of their local officials. They could only determine part of their local laws.
Utahns longed for the rights and privileges of statehood, which also included the power over education and full government services.
As the New York Times reported, "The signing of the Utah Bill for Statehood closes one of the most remarkable contests in the history of American politics. The Territory has been an applicant for statehood and really eligible in population and wealth for 40 years. The struggle over polygamy and the Mormon Church has deferred it admission until the present time."
There is one other form of government in Utah today.
On January 4, 1896, Utah was finally admitted as the 45th state.
It is our Civic Responsibility to take an active part in our State's Government.
Utah's Constitution was one of the first states giving women the right to vote.
Full transcript