Utah's History

By Thomas G. Alexander; Eugene E. Campbell et al. | Go to book overview

Part II
From Colonization to Statehood Introduction

Eugene E. Campbell

The Mormons who colonized Utah were religious refugees seeking an isolated location where they could practice their faith in comparative freedom. Convinced that their founder, Joseph Smith, was a prophet appointed by God to establish the Kingdom of God as a basis for Christ's millennial reign on earth, these Latter-day Saints had been forced to leave communities in New York, Ohio, Missouri, and most recently in Illinois. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, persecuted because of its belief in the Book of Mormon and because of its religious zeal, millennial beliefs, economic solidarity, political unity, and practice of plural marriage, had survived and grown due to strong leadership and a vigorous missionary system in the years since its organization in . 1830.

Composed of converts from throughout the United States and Canada plus thousands of proselytes from the British Isles, the Scandinavian countries, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Pacific islands, the Mormon pioneers not only accepted a new religion but heeded the call to gather to Zion in order to build the nucleus of the Kingdom. The millenarianism that had driven them from their homes seemed to give them the strength and dedication necessary to survive in the arid Great Basin, which they chose as their home in 1847.

Brigham Young, their leader in the westward migration, was a remarkable man. With only a few weeks of formal education he developed leadership skills within the Mormon organizational structure that enabled him to accept the leadership role after Joseph Smith's murder in 1844. Before his death in 1877, Young

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