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Utah state elections, 1895-1899

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Publication Type dissertation
School or College College of Social & Behavioral Science
Department Political Science
Author White, Jean Bickmore
Title Utah state elections, 1895-1899
Date 1968
Description This is a study of three elections, the first elections in the history of Utah as a state. The first occurred in 1895 just before statehood was formally proclaimed, the second in 1896 as a climax to the first year of statehood, and the third in 1898 at the end of nearly three years of statehood. The study also includes the election of Utah's United States senators by the legislatures in 1896, 1897, and 1899. The data presented in this study include a discussion of the laws under 'Which the' elections were conducted , the nominating process, the conventions and party platforms, and the results of the elections. In addition to presenting this ht scortcal data in a form that may be useful to future students of Utah politics, an effort has been made to analyze the meaning of these elections in the light of Utah's earlier political history. Utah politics in the early years of statehood grew out of an unusual background. During the territorial period from 1870 until the early 1890' s the elections were contests between the Liberal party, consisting almost exclusively of non-Mormons, and the People's party, controlled by the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (the Mormon church). This political control was part of a social, economic, and political unity that Mormons held as an ideal. In 1890 the territory began moving toward a breakdown of this political division along religious lines and toward the achievement of statehood. Within a few years the People's and Liberal parties were dissolved and both Mormons and non-Mormons moved to the Republican and Democratic parties. An enabling act was passed and a constitution was drafted. The Democratic orientation of the Mormons was changing, and the first election in 1895 brought into office a complete slate of Republicans and a predominantly Republican legis1ature--which elected the first two Republican senators. Within a year the free coinage of silver became the economic issue of overriding importance in the west, and Utah was no exception. Utah voted overwhelmingly for Bryan in 1896, one of the few times in the state's history when Utahns did not give their electoral votes to the winner. The highlight of the election of 1898 was the election of a leading Mormon Democrat, Brigham H. Roberts, to the United States Congress. Roberts' candidacy brought back some religious animosity, since he was living in plural marriage, and the publicity surrounding the campaign led to a successful move to deny him his seat. When the Democratic legislature failed to agree on a senator in 1899, Utah was left with only one senator to represent the state. Underlying each election was the question whether or to what extent--Mormon church leaders were still dominating the political process in Utah, by open participation or by covert "whispering" and threats of discipline to members who did not respond to "counsel" in political matters. The potential influence of church leaders during this period was still great, and never to be ignored. The study shows how this influence was used, particularly in the senatorial elections, and shows that the use of such influence was only partially successful. Church leaders no longer completely dominated the political scene because Utah was developing into more of a pluralist Society in the 1890's. There were still religious divisions and animosities, but the elections in the early years of statehood made. it seem unlikely that there would be a return to a statewide political division along religious lines.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Elections -- Utah
Dissertation Name Doctor of Philosophy
Language eng
Rights Management (c) Jean Bickmore White
Format Medium application/pdf
ARK ark:/87278/s61880tc
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2019-10-28
Date Modified 2019-10-30
ID 1475645
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s61880tc
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