Utah's History

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

Part III
Twentieth-century Utah Introduction

Thomas G. Alexander

Perhaps the most important characteristic of twentieth-century Utah has been the decline of ecclesiastical domination of politics, society, and the economy and the rise of a secular life characterized by competition. Where nineteenth-century economic activity was divided between Mormon and gentile enterprises, twentieth-century businesses tend to be controlled by capital drawn from various sources. Three of Utah's governors--Simon Bamberger, George H. Dern, and J. Bracken Lee--have been non- Mormons, and a number of prominent Utah politicians and businessmen have been nominal rather than active Latter-day Saints. The Mormon Church continues to wield power in Utah's political decisions, but that power derives from moral suasion rather than from the threat of church excommunication or ostracism as it did in the nineteenth century. Beyond this, the church shares power with interest groups like the Kennecott Copper Corporation, the Utah Educational Association, the Associated General Contractors, and the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations.

With the decline in ecclesiastical domination has come integration into the national economic, political, and social framework. A number of Utahns have made their mark nationally in the political, cultural, and economic arena. These include Reed Smoot, George Sutherland, James H. Moyle, George H. Dern, Ezra Taft Benson, and Esther Peterson in politics; Marriner Eccles, George Romney, and David Kennedy in economic life; and Cyrus Dallin, M ahonri M. Young, Avard Fairbanks, and Grant Johannesen in cultural activities.

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