Utah's History

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

Chapter 12
Towards a Dependent Commonwealth

Dean L. May

Several important events surrounding the year 1869 underscore the tremendous consequences of the completion of the transcontinental railroad for Utahns.

In 1865 John Pierce, surveyor general for Utah-Colorado, suddenly reversed his earlier opposition to the granting of land titles in Utah Territory, explaining that "the true policy of the government in regard to Utah is to encourage the emigration to that territory of a population less hostile to the United States," and that to encourage this, the "gentile emigration must have the chance of acquiring title to the land, and must be protected in that title." Acting on Pierce's suggestion, Congress finally voted in 1868 to appoint a surveyor general for the territory and to apply there the preemption and homestead laws. A federal land office was opened the next year in Salt Lake City.

Production of nonferrous metals in Utah, begun shortly before Pierce's report, increased from $190,000 in 1869 to $1.5 million in 1870, the year rails were extended from Ogden to Salt Lake City. Corinne--the first Utah town settled by non-Mormons--began its colorful but short career as a trading and railroad center in 1869. Episcopal Bishop Daniel S. Tuttle settled in Salt Lake City the same year, a prominent representative of the burgeoning non- Mormon religious effort that had begun only a few years earlier.

In October 1869 William S. Godbe, E. L. T. Harrison, and Eli B. Kelsey were excommunicated from the Mormon Church, partly because they opposed the economic programs of church leaders and partly because they advocated rapprochement with federal officials and gentiles living in Utah. A group with similar views began

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