The Territory of Utah was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 4, 1896, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Utah.
The territory was organized by an organic act of Congress in 1850, on the same day that the State of California was admitted to the Union. The creation of the territory was part of the Compromise of 1850 that sought to preserve the balance of power between slave and free states. With the exception of a small area around the headwaters of the Colorado River in present-day Colorado, the United States had acquired all the land of the territory from Mexico with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848.
The creation of the Utah Territory was partially the result of the petition sent by the Mormon pioneers who had settled in the valley of the Great Salt Lake starting in 1847. The Mormons, under the leadership of Brigham Young, had petitioned Congress for entry into the Union as the State of Deseret, with its capital as Salt Lake City and with proposed borders that encompassed the entire Great Basin and the watershed of the Colorado River, including all or part of nine current U.S. states. The Mormon settlers had drafted a state constitution in 1849 and Deseret had become the de facto government in the Great Basin by the time of the creation of the Utah Territory.
Following the organization of the territory, Young was inaugurated as its first governor on February 3, 1851. In the first session of the territorial legislature in October, the legislature adopted all the laws and ordinances previously enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Deseret.
Mormon governance in the territory was regarded as controversial by much of the rest of the nation, partly fed by continuing lurid newspaper depictions of the polygamy practiced by the settlers, which itself had been part of the cause of their flight from the United States to the Great Salt Lake basin after being forcibly removed from their settlements farther east.
Although the Mormons were the majority in the Great Salt Lake basin, the western area of the territory began to attract many non-Mormon settlers, especially after the discovery of silver at the Comstock Lode in 1858. In 1861, partly as a result of this, the Nevada Territory was created out of the western part of the territory. Non-Mormons also entered the easternmost part of the territory during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, resulting in the discovery of gold at Breckinridge in Utah Territory in 1859. In 1861 a large portion of the eastern area of the territory was reorganized as part of the newly created Colorado Territory.
The arrival of the railroad, simultaneously from California and the east in 1869, was not regarded as especially beneficial by the Mormons who governed the territory. The ceremony of the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit to complete the transcontinental railroad was boycotted by the territory officials, who were wary of the encroachment of the outside world into the basin of the Great Salt Lake.
The controversies stirred by the Mormon religion's dominance of the territory is regarded as the primary reason behind the long delay of 46 years between the organization of the territory and its admission to the Union in 1896 as the State of Utah, long after the admission of territories created after it. In contrast, the Nevada Territory, although more sparsely populated, was admitted to the Union in 1864, only three years after its formation, largely as a consequence of the Union's desire to consolidate its hold on the silver mines in the territory. Colorado was admitted in 1876.
Other articles related to "utah territory, utah, territory":
... allowed California into the Union as a free state while permitting Utah and New Mexico territories the option of deciding the issue by "popular sovereignty" ... In 1852 the Utah Territorial Legislature officially sanctioned slavery in Utah Territory ... At that time, Brigham Young was governor, and the Utah Territorial Legislature was dominated by church leaders ...
... the Wade, Cragin, and Cullom bills which had their origin in the territory of Utah and were initiated by men who were bitterly opposed to the Mormon establishment ... women of the church who held mass meetings throughout the territory in January 1870 in opposition to the bill ... Saints (LDS Church) exerted over the justice system of Utah Territory ...
... Allen (1852–1932), Utah Territory Representative 1888–1896, Clerk of Salt Lake County, Utah Territory candidate for U.S ... Congressional Delegate from the Utah Territory 1892 delegate to the Republican National Convention 1896 ... U.S ... Representative from Utah 1896–1897 ...
... Shambip County was a county in Utah Territory from 1856 to 1862 ... The county was created by the Utah Territorial Legislature in January 1856 ... in 1862 and absorbed by Tooele County, Utah ...
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