43 - Dreaming of Deseret

In 1849, the Mormons who had recently settled the Wild West near the Great Salt Lake, ‘proposed’ the state of Deseret. It’s not clear to me whether this ‘proposal’ equalled a ‘proclamation’ in their minds. It is clear however that the United States never recognised the State of Deseret during the 2 year period it was administered by the Mormons – although this was the very goal for which they had wished to set up Deseret.


\n

Deseret, by the way, is not a corruption of the word desert (which can be used to describe much of its territory), but derives from the Book of Mormon, a central text in the faith system of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints of Jesus Christ, as the Mormons officially designate themselves. In this Book, an American counterpart to the Bible, the word signifies honeybee.  

\n

The proposed state of Deseret was ambitious in its size, comprising most of the territory that the US recently had acquired in the Mexican Cession of 1848. To wit: almost all the surface of the present-day states of Utah and Nevada, large sections of California and Arizona, significant parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.

\n

The borders of the state were not, as the later, actual states, straight-lined, but to a large degree determined by natural features: the Rocky Mountains (to the east) and the Sierra Nevada (in the west), although Deseret would have touched the ocean south of the Santa Monica Mountains, to include the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego.

\n

Two reasons are most often cited as to why Deseret never came to be: it would have created a state based on a separate religion, and it was probably too ambitious in its scope. In 1849, president Taylor proposed combining California and Deseret into a single Union state.

\n

Meanwhile, the Provisional State of Deseret assumed more and more aspects of government, convoking a Great Assembly, which appointed judges, approved legislature (establishing taxes on liquor and outlawing gambling) and formed a militia.

\n

In 1850, however, the US Congress created the Utah Territory, which encompassed only the northern part of Deseret. The Mormons acquiesced. The spiritual leader of the Mormons, Brigham Young, was inaugurated as the first governor of Utah Territory on February 3, 1851. On April 4, 1851 the General Assembly of Deseret dissolved itself and the Provisional State.

\n

This was not the end of the dream of Deseret, though: in 1856, 1862 and again in 1872, the Mormons attempted to write a constitution that would establish a (Mormon) state of Deseret in Utah Territory. From 1862 to 1870, a group of Mormon elders met after each session of the territorial legislature as a kind of shadow government, re-ratifying the laws in the name of ‘Deseret’.

\n

The dream of Deseret faded with the coming of the railroads, which brought many non-Mormon settlers out west. Eventually, the Utah Territory shrank to its present size, and was accepted into the Union as a state in 1896. 

\n

wpdms_deseret_utah_territory_legend.JPG

\n

The boundaries of the provisional State of Deseret (orange) as proposed in 1849. The area of the Utah Territory as organized in 1850 is shaded in pink. Map taken from Wikipedia.

\n

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

The Universe Shouldn’t Exist, CERN Scientists Announce

BASE particle physicists have discovered a very precise way to examine antimatter.

The Veil Nebula. Credit: By Jschulman555 - Own work, Wikipedia Commons.
Surprising Science

Thank your lucky stars you’re alive. It’s truly a miracle of nature. This has nothing to do with spirituality or religion and everything to do with science. Life itself may not be the miracle. Although we haven’t found it elsewhere yet, our galaxy alone is so replete with Earth-like planets that, mathematically speaking, one of them must hold life, even if it’s just the microbial variety. Intelligent life may be another matter.

Keep reading Show less

Ashamed over my mental illness, I realized drawing might help me – and others – cope

Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.

Keep reading Show less

Sexual activity linked to higher cognitive function in older age

A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.

The results of this one-of-a-kind study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men.
Image by Lightspring on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
  • The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
  • The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…