States that disappeared

Not all of the states previously formed in our history ended up making the final fifty.  As mentioned in an earlier post, the State of Franklin had a four year life before being absorbed into Tennessee.  The State of Deseret only lasted two.

When early Mormon pioneers settled in the Salt Lake Valley they imagined a territory that reflected the beliefs of their members.  Latter Day Saints President Brigham Young initially drew up papers in 1849 to propose a territory, but he quickly changed it to a  petition for statehood when he saw that California and New Mexico were both applying to be admitted to the union as states.  The proposed State of Deseret would have encompassed the large outlined area in the map below.

Church elders drafted a constitution and sent it with a courier to Washington D.C.  The federal government responded with a proposal to combine California and Deseret as one state, but that received little support from any of the entities involved.  The next year, in 1850, Congress instead created the Utah territory (the shaded area on the map) and Brigham Young became the first territorial governor.  In 1851 the proponents of the State of Deseret voted to dissolve the state, although many continued behind the scenes to keep pushing the idea.

Eventually the innovation of the railroad brought in large numbers of non-Mormon settlers and the notion of a Mormon state faded.  The State of Deseret was never recognized by the federal government, but the short lived assembly did make laws, formed a militia, formed counties, appointed judges and performed other governmental duties until they were replaced by the territorial government.

The word “deseret” means “honeybee” in the Book of Mormon.

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2 Responses to States that disappeared

  1. Another great piece of history to add to my historical lore! I was born in Salt Lake City, but I don’t remember my history classes being as interesting as the way you’re presenting it! Thanks so much!

  2. I’ve always preferred an anecdotal approach to history. I just never had a brain that could retain dates and statistics, but stories I love!

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