Brigham Young Establishes Mormon Homeland in Salt Lake City, Utah

U.S. #950 – pictures Brigham Young and his followers arriving at Salt Lake City in 1847.

After 17 months of travel searching for a new home for his persecuted people, Brigham Young found Utah’s Great Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847 and proclaimed, “This is the place” (as pictured on U.S. #950).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded in 1830 when Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon. The religion grew fast in his New York community and spread to Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, it included controversial practices, including polygamy, which made its followers targets of mob violence.

Following Smith’s death, Brigham Young became the church’s new leader and vowed to find a new home for all of his fellow Mormons, in “a place on this earth that nobody else wants.” He led a convoy of more than 10,000 followers and set up camp in Iowa. Young then took a smaller detachment of 148 people across the Rocky Mountains. As soon as he reached Utah’s Great Salt Lake Valley, he knew it was his people’s future home.

U.S. #4324 – The Utah flag pays tribute to the Mormon settlers with the beehive at its center.

These devout settlers called the region Deseret, after the Mormon word for honeybee. The honeybee is an important symbol of hard work and industry for the Mormons. Many people still refer to Utah as Deseret, and Utah’s nickname is the Beehive State.

In 1849, the Mormons established the Perpetual Emigrating Fund. This fund helped Mormons move to Utah. It operated for about 40 years and attracted about 50,000 Mormons to Utah. These people came from other areas of the United States as well as Denmark, England, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, and Wales.

U.S. #950FDC – Utah centennial First Day Cover.

When the Mormons first arrived in Utah, the area officially belonged to Mexico. However, at that time the U.S. and Mexico were fighting the Mexican War, which lasted from 1846-1848. When the U.S. won the war, it acquired a great deal of land, including Utah.

The Mormons established the State of Deseret in 1849, with a temporary government led by Brigham Young. A constitution was adopted, and the settlers asked to be admitted to the Union. However, Congress was embroiled in great debates about slavery at the time. But with the Compromise of 1850, the Utah Territory was established.

Between 1849 and 1895, Utah tried to join the Union several times. Congress refused because of an uncommon Mormon practice called polygamy – specifically, a form where a man had more than one wife which they referred to as “plural marriage.” Few Mormons actually practiced polygamy. But as long as the Mormons allowed it, Utah was denied statehood.

U.S. #1677 – The beehive symbolized the ideals of hard work and self-reliance, which were needed to tame the harsh land.

The Federal government began enforcing the laws against polygamy during the 1880s. About 1,000 Mormons were fined or sent to prison. In 1887, a law was passed allowing the Federal government to seize church property for use by public schools. In 1890, the church began discouraging polygamy, and by 1904 it was prohibited.

In 1895, Utah submitted a new constitution to Congress. This constitution outlawed polygamy and protected the government from church domination. As a result, Utah achieved statehood on January 4, 1896.

U.S. #894 – When this stamp was issued many suggested the horse’s running position was impossible. They expected it to be reissued (it never was) and purchased large quantities, making it scarce today.

The Pony Express Arrives in Salt Lake City

In 1860, mail contractor Ben Holladay joined forces with the Russell, Majors and Waddell Freight Company to create a mail-carrying company that would be faster and more efficient than the stagecoaches of the Butterfield Overland Mail. Holladay established 200 stations 25 miles apart along a 1,900-mile trail from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California.

Holladay then put a call out for small, brave young men that could ride a horse well. He bought 500 of the fastest horses he could find and hired 80 daring riders. The first rider left St. Joseph, Missouri, on April 3, 1860. The route followed the Oregon and California Trails to Fort Bridger in Wyoming, the Mormon Trail to Salt Lake City, the Central Nevada Route to Carson City, Nevada, and over the Sierra to Sacramento, California. The first rider reached Salt Lake City at 6:45 p.m. on April 9 before arriving in Sacramento around midnight on April 14, 1860. In the mochilla (a special saddlebag for mail) was a message of congratulations from President Buchanan to the Governor of California, which had been telegraphed from Washington to St. Joseph.

U.S. #922 – This Transcontinental Railroad stamp has an error too – the flag is blowing in a different direction than the smoke.

The adventurous service came to an end just 18 months after that first ride. On October 24, 1861, the Western Union Telegraph Company completed the first transcontinental telegraph line in Salt Lake City. This accomplishment ushered in a new age of communications in the U.S.

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  1. And so a new false religion and cult was founded. Thanks Joseph Smith and Brigham Young for your disobedience to the Living God and listening to and following the evil spirit or god of this earth and adding the book of Mormon. Remember what God tells us in His holy Word: “. . . If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18 KJV).

    1. Guess that you never bothered to read the 1st Amendment. Freedom of religion must an alien concept to you.

      1. Clarification: Noah did not contradict the 1st amendment with his post. He merely declared Mormonism to be a false religion and cult. He did not declare that it does not have the right to exist as protected by the 1st amendment.

      2. Religion is the key word here. Though definitively the wiedest cult ever conceived. The spiritual revival going on in central new york [ the finger lakes region] at that time created some doozies.

        However, It’s not Freedom of Religion but FreeSpeech that let them get started. I guess we just have to be tolerant. There are a lot worse cults out there; and the mormons have contributed to the growth of our nation. Let it be.

      3. @Noah. This is all part of American history. Can’t change history, as long as its factual. Agree with the doc. Freedom of religion.
        Besides all that, I really like those stamps.

    2. I don’t know why people get on social media and prove to the world how stupid and small minded they are. Noah, you’re an idiot.

  2. I will at the same time declare false religions to be false religions and defend their right to exist. Declaring a religion to be false does not contradict the 1st amendment. Declaring a false religion’s right to exist in the United States of America would contradict the 1st amendment.

  3. Thanks Mystic. I found this day in history very interesting. My father’s side of the family were some of those early Mormon settlers who may have been part of that Perpetual Emigrating Fund in the mid 1800’s? They were from England and Wales. I was born in Ogden, UT. But moved to Colorado at 3 years of age and was not raised Mormon. I never new the significance of the bee hive until now.

  4. Ok, that was an interesting exchange of point and counterpoint….now, can we stick to philately and the purpose of the website.

  5. We’re not in the business of judging other faith traditions but, instead, praise all people of faith for their contributions in the development of this country! That’s what makes this country so unique; the First Amendment gives us the freedom to whatever faith tradition we belong to. Raised Catholic, I am willing to give my life to protect any faith other than my own. I respect the Mormons with their strong family values as well as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused to Heil Hitler, and many among them paid with their lives in face of Nazi persecution during WWII. Mystic did a great job on the Mormon contribution in America’s history. Religion is a personal choice, and let’s leave religion out of this discussion!

  6. Noah – It is interesting that you characterize the Mormon church (correctly known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) as “false” and as a “cult”. How do you know? Note that the Jews characterized Christianity as “false” and a “cult” and the Catholic Church did the same to all of the Protestant churches that arose in the Middle Ages. I also note the quote from Revelation, but ask if that applies to just the Book of Revelation, the entire New Testament or the Bible as a whole? Note that the Old Testament was not canonized until about 70AD and the New Testament until about 300AD. The Bible also mentions, especially in the Old Testament, other prophetic writings which we have no knowledge of at present. Are they also “false” if they become the foundation of a “cult”? If you ever read the Book of Mormon and sincerely pray about it you may change your mind about the LDS Church.

  7. Ben Gale, I distinctly heard you say philately but it must have sounded like “ph”anatically.

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