The Utah War Essay

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It was a good war. 'Killed, none; wounded, none; fooled, everybody,' reported a correspondent of theNew York Herald. The incident of 1857-58 known as the Utah Expedition, the Utah War or Buchanan's Blunder was a collision of territorial self-determination against a federal government already faced with insubordination in Kansas and its Southern states. When President James Buchanan decided to flex federal muscle against Utah Territory and 'the Mormon problem,' he ignited a full rebellion that, before it was all over, embarrassed the military arm of the young republic and confounded the president. When Brigham Young, with the first Mormon pioneers, set foot on the spacious Salt Lake Valley floor on July 24, 1847, he boasted that if they could have just 10 years of peace, they would ask no odds of the devil or Uncle Sam. The young religion that taught continuing revelation had already experienced a turbulent 17-year history. By the time the Latter-day Saints sought refuge in the Rocky Mountain wilderness, some members had been driven from their homes as many as four times. It was, curiously, 10 years to the day–on July 24, 1857–that Young received word that an American army was on its way to Utah Territory. The news was not altogether unexpected. Utah was a difficult post for federal territorial appointees. Mormon polygamy and theocratic tendencies were viewed by much of the country as peculiar and un-American. On the other hand, the federally appointed judges and other agents chosen from outside their community were an annoyance to the Mormons, whose petition for statehood was repeatedly refused. President Millard Fillmore had made a small concession, appointing Brigham Young as Utah's territorial governor. Judge William W. Drummond was particularly obnoxious to Salt Lake society. He lectured polygamists for their immoral lifestyle while he was cohabitating with

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