Speak Your Piece: a podcast about Utah's history
Season 2, Ep. 3 (Part 2 of 2) Leo Lyman's Deep Dive into the “Sausage Making” of Utah's Statehood
November 12, 2020
Podcast Content for Part 2 of 2: Concerning Utah’s statehood story, the oft heard quote comes to mind, attributed to German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who said: “laws and sausage, if they are to be enjoyed, should never be watched made.”
Lyman’s well written book argues for the opposite: knowing the stories behind political actions are essential to a vibrant and strong democracy. Lyman’s “sausage making” history which spans over fifty year in 19th century Utah and the United States, reveals many significant historical insights useful to both modern Utahns and Americans. It is also a complex, elusive story, that has been largely untold until now.
Podcast #2 of 2- Topics Discussed
- The work of the US Congress created Utah Commission is described.
- There is a gradual erosion of public support across Utah for the principle of polygamy.
- Lawyer and founder of Utah’s Democratic Party (1872) Hadley D. Johnson, who has lived among the Mormons since 1869, offers a noteworthy prediction regarding Utah society and its gradual movement away from polygamy.
- General John A. McClernand (Democrat and Utah Commission member) offers a series of astute observations that essentially become true about Utah.
- The diametrically opposing public decisions regarding the continued practice of polygamy by two well-known Mormons: Bishop John Sharp (leader of the People Party and Union Pacific Railroad board member) and Rudger Clawson (whose Supreme Court case Clawson v. United States, resolved the claim that polygamy was protected for the First Amendment).
- US Congressional acts, and US Supreme Court uphold an anti-polygamy voting oath in Idaho, thus making it clear that such laws when applied in the Utah Territory, will disenfranchise all practicing Mormons, wherever they reside, or if they practice polypamy or not.
- Salt Lake Tribune and a handful of Utah mining magnates fight to disenfranchise all Mormons, arguing that only law abiding, non-Mormon citizens, should control Utah’s political life.
- George Q. Cannon, his son Frank Cannon and Isaac Trumbo (all successful Utah Washington lobbyists) all vie to be one of Utah’s first two United States senators.
- Assessment of Frank Cannon, as one of Utah’s first senators (not all that good).
- After successfully petitioned for statehood in the mid-1890s, the church’s declarations and actions concerning the continuation of polygamy, at the 11th hour, threated the statehood bid.
- After statehood is granted, Utah’s first state governor Heber Wells, takes actions to resist, along with other key legislators, efforts to quietly “water down” the state’s laws concerning polygamy.
- Made up mostly of younger people, Utah experiences a grassroots movement where Mormons exercise their personal rights and freedoms, and resisted the LDS Church’s efforts to re engage in Utah’s governance.
- Federal advisors urge Utah’s Peoples Party and Liberal Party to change, and are at times artificially managed, and eventually transform into Democrats (generally Peoples Party members) and Republicans (mostly business minded Mormons and non-Mormons).
- Between 1892 and 1895, Utah’s Republican Party swept most elections; Republicans, previously an anathema to Utahns, became a force in early state politics, while the Democrats, who supported Utah (tepidly and off and on) for forty years, faltered for twenty years in Utah.
- The story of Utah State Constitutional Convention. LDS Church and Republican Party leader John Henry Smith serves as chairperson.
- Outgoing national Democrats delay Utah’s statehood 1 ½ years to the end of current congressional term, so no additional Republicans can for this period be seated in the US Congress.
- Utah celebrates statehood somewhat on January 4, 1896, then holds a large