Sole and Exclusive: Power, Control, and Violence in the Utah Territory, 1847-1857

Cummins, Brendan. 2017. “Sole and Exclusive: Power, Control, and Violence in the Utah Territory, 1847-1857” Meeting of the Minds Graduate Student Journal 1 (March). doi:10.5281/zenodo.398867.

Keywords: Mormonism, Utah, Theocracy


From the time of the Mormons’ arrival in the Great Salt Basin in 1847 to the dispatch of U.S. Army troops in 1857, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was very close to establishing their prophesied temporal Kingdom of God. The isolation of the Mormon settlement in Utah and the commitment of the settlers who made the long, difficult overland journey from the east made it possible to build the theocracy, or theodemocracy, that had failed in Missouri and Illinois. The ten years between 1847 and 1857, free of serious outside interference, allowed the Saints to assume control of all aspects of life in the territory. The total power over the physical, spiritual, and civil realms enabled the Saints to stand against outside influences until the end of the nineteenth century. Non-Mormons were not part of the Church’s plans for the Kingdom and those who were not willing to be part of the theocracy were harassed, threatened, or physically driven out. The systems of government that existed in other parts of the United States were used to further the Saints’ designs for their perfect millennial state. The decade of 1847-57 is pivotal in understanding how a marginal sect grew to be the influential international organization of today. This project relied heavily on primary source research, including newspapers, diaries, and discourses from Mormon and non-Mormon perspectives.