Utah Statehood

United States #763 (1935)

United States #763 (1935)

On January 4, 1896, Utah became the 45th state admitted to the United States, following nearly 50 years as a territory. The entire Southwest was Mexican territory when the first pioneers arrived in 1847. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 31st-most-populous, and 10th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. It has a population of more than 3 million (Census estimate for July 1, 2016), approximately 80% of whom live along the Wasatch Front, centering on the state capital Salt Lake City. The is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast. Approximately 62% of Utahns are reported to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS (Mormons), which greatly influences Utahn culture and daily life. Utah is the only state with a majority population belonging to a single church.

The state is a center of transportation, education, information technology and research, government services, mining, and a major tourist destination for outdoor recreation. In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Utah had the second fastest-growing population of any state. St. George was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000 to 2005. Utah also has the 14th highest median average income and the least income inequality of any U.S. state. A 2012 Gallup national survey found Utah overall to be the “best state to live in” based on 13 forward-looking measurements including various economic, lifestyle, and health-related outlook metrics.

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Thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers, the Ancestral Puebloans and the Fremont people lived in what is now known as Utah. These Native American tribes are subgroups of the Ute-Aztec Native American ethnicity and were sedentary. The Ancestral Pueblo people built their homes through excavations in mountains, and the Fremont people built houses of straw before disappearing from the region around the fifteenth century.

Another group of Native Americans, the Navajo, settled in the region around the eighteenth century. In the mid-eighteenth century, other Uto-Aztecan tribes, including the Goshute, the Paiute, the Shoshone, and the Ute people, also settled in the region. These five groups were present when the first European explorers arrived.

The southern Utah region was explored by the Spanish in 1540, led by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, while looking for the legendary Cíbola. A group led by two Catholic priests —sometimes called the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition — left Santa Fe in 1776, hoping to find a route to the coast of California. The expedition traveled as far north as Utah Lake and encountered the native residents. The Spanish made further explorations in the region, but were not interested in colonizing the area because of its desert nature. In 1821, the year Mexico achieved its independence from Spain, the region became known as part of its territory of Alta California.

European trappers and fur traders explored some areas of Utah in the early nineteenth century from Canada and the United States. The city of Provo, Utah was named for one, Étienne Provost, who visited the area in 1825. The city of Ogden, Utah was named after Peter Skene Ogden, a Canadian explorer who traded furs in the Weber Valley.

In late 1824, Jim Bridger became the first known English-speaking person to sight the Great Salt Lake. Due to the high salinity of its waters, Bridger thought he had found the Pacific Ocean; he subsequently found that this body of water was a giant salt lake. After the discovery of the lake, hundreds of American and Canadian traders and trappers established trading posts in the region. In the 1830s, thousands of migrants traveling from the Eastern United States to the American West began to make stops in the region of the Great Salt Lake, then known as Lake Youta.

Brigham Young and the first band of Mormon pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Over the next 22 years, more than 70,000 pioneers crossed the plains and settled in Utah. For the first few years, Brigham Young and the thousands of early settlers of Salt Lake City struggled to survive. The arid desert land was deemed by the Mormons as desirable as a place where they could practice their religion without harassment.

The Mormon settlements provided pioneers for other settlements in the West. Salt Lake City became the hub of a “far-flung commonwealth” of Mormon settlements. With new church converts coming from the East and around the world, Church leaders often assigned groups of church members as missionaries to establish other settlements throughout the West. They developed irrigation to support fairly large pioneer populations along Utah’s Wasatch front (Salt Lake City, Bountiful and Weber Valley, and Provo and Utah Valley). Throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century, Mormon pioneers established hundreds of other settlements in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, California, Canada, and Mexico.

Young had an expansionist’s view of the territory that he and the Mormon pioneers were settling, calling it Deseret — which according to the Book of Mormon was an ancient word for “honeybee”. This is symbolized by the beehive on the Utah flag, and the state’s motto, “Industry”.

Early in the Mexican–American War in late 1846, the United States had taken control of New Mexico and California. The entire Southwest became U.S. territory upon the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, on February 2, 1848. The treaty was ratified by the United States Senate on March 11. Learning that California and New Mexico were applying for statehood, the settlers of the Utah area (originally having planned to petition for territorial status) applied for statehood with an ambitious plan for a State of Deseret.

The Territory of Utah was an organized on September 9, 1850, the same day that the State of California was admitted to the Union and the New Mexico Territory was added for the southern portion of the new Mexican land. 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.

The Utah Territory was much smaller than the proposed state of Deseret, but it still contained all of the present states of Nevada and Utah as well as pieces of modern Wyoming and Colorado. Fillmore, named after President Millard Fillmore, was designated the capital. The territory was given the name Utah after the Ute tribe of Native Americans. It means “people of the mountains” in the Ute language. According to other sources “Utah” is derived from the Apache name “Yudah” which means “Tall”. In the Spanish language it was said as “Yuta”, subsequently the English-speaking people adapted the word “Utah”. Salt Lake City replaced Fillmore as the territorial capital in 1856.

Disputes between the Mormon inhabitants and the U.S. government intensified due to the practice of plural marriage, or polygamy, among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormons were still pushing for the establishment of a State of Deseret with the new borders of the Utah Territory. Most, if not all, of the members of the U.S. government opposed the polygamous practices of the Mormons.

Members of the LDS Church were viewed as un-American and rebellious when news of their polygamous practices spread. In 1857, particularly heinous accusations of abdication of government and general immorality were stated by former associate justice William W. Drummond, among others. The detailed reports of life in Utah caused the administration of James Buchanan to send a secret military “expedition” to Utah. When the supposed rebellion should be quelled, Alfred Cumming would take the place of Brigham Young as territorial governor. The resulting conflict is known as the Utah War, nicknamed “Buchanan’s Blunder” by the Mormon leaders.

In September 1857, about 120 American settlers of the Baker–Fancher wagon train, en route to California from Arkansas, were murdered by Utah Territorial Militia and some Paiute Native Americans in the Mountain Meadows massacre.

Before troops led by Albert Sidney Johnston entered the territory, Brigham Young ordered all residents of Salt Lake City to evacuate southward to Utah Valley and sent out a force, known as the Nauvoo Legion, to delay the government’s advance. Although wagons and supplies were burned, eventually the troops arrived in 1858, and Young surrendered official control to Cumming, although most subsequent commentators claim that Young retained true power in the territory. A steady stream of governors appointed by the president quit the position, often citing the traditions of their supposed territorial government. By agreement with Young, Johnston established Camp Floyd, 40 miles (60 km) away from Salt Lake City, to the southwest.

Salt Lake City was the last link of the First Transcontinental Telegraph, completed in October 1861. Brigham Young was among the first to send a message, along with Abraham Lincoln and other officials.

Because of the American Civil War, federal troops were pulled out of Utah Territory in 1861. This was a boon to the local economy as the army sold everything in camp for pennies on the dollar before marching back east to join the war. The territory was then left in LDS hands until Patrick E. Connor arrived with a regiment of California volunteers in 1862. Connor established Fort Douglas just 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Salt Lake City and encouraged his people to discover mineral deposits to bring more non-Mormons into the territory. Minerals were discovered in Tooele County and miners began to flock to the territory.

Beginning in 1865, Utah’s Black Hawk War developed into the deadliest conflict in the territory’s history. Chief Antonga Black Hawk died in 1870, but fights continued to break out until additional federal troops were sent in to suppress the Ghost Dance of 1872. The war is unique among Indian Wars because it was a three-way conflict, with mounted Timpanogos Utes led by Antonga Black Hawk fighting federal and LDS authorities.

On May 10, 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory Summit, north of the Great Salt Lake. The railroad brought increasing numbers of people into the territory and several influential businesspeople made fortunes there.

During the 1870s and 1880s laws were passed to punish polygamists. The corroborative testimonies coming out of Utah from Mormons and former Mormons influenced Congress and the people of the United States. In the 1890 Manifesto, the LDS Church banned polygamy. When Utah applied for statehood again, it was accepted. One of the conditions for granting Utah statehood was that a ban on polygamy be written into the state constitution. This was a condition required of other western states that were admitted into the Union later. Statehood was officially granted on January 4, 1896.

Beginning in the early twentieth century, with the establishment of such national parks as Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, Utah became known for its natural beauty. The state is known for its natural diversity and is home to features ranging from arid deserts with sand dunes to thriving pine forests in mountain valleys. It is a rugged and geographically diverse state that is located at the convergence of three distinct geological regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau.

Southern Utah became a popular filming spot for arid, rugged scenes featured in the popular mid-century western film genre. From such films, most U.S. residents recognize such natural landmarks as Delicate Arch and “the Mittens” of Monument Valley. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, with the construction of the Interstate highway system, accessibility to the southern scenic areas was made easier.

In 1957, Utah created the Utah State Parks Commission with four parks. Today, Utah State Parks manages 43 parks and several undeveloped areas totaling over 95,000 acres (380 km²) of land and more than 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km²) of water. Utah’s state parks are scattered throughout the state; from Bear Lake State Park at the Utah/Idaho border to Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum deep in the Four Corners region, and everywhere in between. Utah State Parks is also home to the state’s off highway vehicle office, state boating office and the trails program.

Since the establishment of Alta Ski Area in 1939 and the subsequent development of several ski resorts in the state’s mountains, Utah’s skiing has become world-renowned. The dry, powdery snow of the Wasatch Range is considered some of the best skiing in the world (the state license plate claims “the Greatest Snow on Earth”). Salt Lake City won the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and this served as a great boost to the economy. The ski resorts have increased in popularity, and many of the Olympic venues built along the Wasatch Front continue to be used for sporting events. Preparation for the Olympics spurred the development of the light-rail system in the Salt Lake Valley, known as TRAX, and the re-construction of the freeway system around the city.

During the late twentieth century, the state grew quickly. In the 1970s, growth was phenomenal in the suburbs of the Wasatch Front. Sandy was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country at that time. Today, many areas of Utah continue to see boom-time growth. Northern Davis, southern and western Salt Lake, Summit, eastern Tooele, Utah, Wasatch, and Washington counties are all growing very quickly. Management of transportation and urbanization are major issues in politics, as development consumes agricultural land and wilderness areas, with density of uses creating air pollution.

Scott #763, eight-cent sage green imperforate without watermark, was issued along on March 15, 1935, along with nineteen other stamps to replace the presentation sheets given to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and others at the time of the initial printing of these stamps. When Postmaster General James A. Farley first published his tentative plans for the National Parks set of stamps on May 19, 1934, the 8-cent stamp was to feature Sequoia National Park of California. In June, it was announced that Crater Lake of Oregon would be used on this denomination. Finally, the official press release of June 23 revealed that the 8-cent stamp would depict Zion National Park of Utah. Three designs prepared by Victor S. McCloskey Jr. were presented for approval on August 14. The main variant was in the style of the numeral to be used for the denomination.

Postmaster General Farley approved the model on August 15 and the accepted design was turned over to C.T. Arlt who engraved the vignette and to D.R. McLeod who engraved the frame and lettering. The die proof was approved on September 7, 1934 by Clinton B. Eilenberger, Acting Postmaster General, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was immediately instructed to print the stamps. These were done by the flate plate method, perforated 11. The printing commenced on September 10 and the first delivery was made to the Post Office Department on September 13. The stamps were initially placed on sale at on September 18 (Scott #747) at Zion National Park and in Washington, D.C.

When the stamp first appeared, there was considerable criticism in regard to the color as it was entirely different from the usual olive green shade generally used on eight-cent stamps. However, after collectors became used to the shade, complaints ceased and a study of this stamp in a collection shows that the shade was exceptionally well chosen portraying a soft sage green which no doubt is reminiscent of the scenery near the depicted scene. The vertically-arranged stamp portrays the Great White Throne, a white sandstone top cliff rising sheer above its base some three thousand feet. The design was based on a photograph made by George A. Grant of the National Park Service.

Zion National Park poster (1938)

Zion National Park poster (1938)

When the imperforate reissues (Scott #763) appeared on March 15, 1935, they were available on the first day of sale in blocks of four at the Benjamin Franklin Station and at the Philatelic Agency in Washington, D.C., and at the latter location also in sheets of 200. From March 16 until June 15, when they were removed from sale, the stamps were only available at the Philatelic Agency. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing delivered 9,900 sheets (1,386,000 total stamps) of the 8-cent denomination to the Post Office Department of which only 6,930 were sold. Once they were removed from sale, the remainders were returned to the Post Office Department for gumming, perforating and cutting into panes of 50. These were then returned to the Philatelic Agency for sale as normal varieties. The Bureau also delivered 266,400 uncut blocks of four (252,644 total stamps) to the Philatelic Agency, of which only 63,161 were sold. Those remaining on hand in June were returned to the BEP for redemption and destruction.

Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah in Washington, Iron and Kane counties. Geomorphically, it is located on the Markagunt and Kolob plateaus, at the intersection of three North American geographic provinces: the Colorado Plateaus, the Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert. The northern part of the park is known as the Kolob Canyons section and is accessible from Interstate 15, exit 40. The 8,726-foot (2,660-meter) summit of Horse Ranch Mountain is the highest point in the park; the lowest point is the 3,666-foot (1,117 m) elevation of Coal Pits Wash, creating a relief of about 5,100 feet (1,600 m). A prominent feature of the 229-square mile (590 km²) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The park’s unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park’s four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.

Human habitation of the area started about 8,000 years ago with small family groups of Native Americans; the semi-nomadic Basketmaker Anasazi (300 CE) stem from one of these groups. In turn, the Virgin Anasazi culture (500 CE) developed as the Basketmakers settled in permanent communities. A different group, the Parowan Fremont, lived in the area as well. Both groups moved away by 1300 and were replaced by the Parrusits and several other Southern Paiute subtribes. Mormons came into the area in 1858 and settled there in the early 1860s. In 1909, President William Howard Taft named the area a National Monument to protect the canyon, under the name of Mukuntuweap National Monument. In 1918, however, the acting director of the newly created National Park Service changed the park’s name to Zion, the name used by the Mormons. According to historian Hal Rothman: “The name change played to a prevalent bias of the time. Many believed that Spanish and Indian names would deter visitors who, if they could not pronounce the name of a place, might not bother to visit it. The new name, Zion, had greater appeal to an ethnocentric audience.” The United States Congress established the monument as a National Park on November 19, 1919. The Kolob section was proclaimed a separate Zion National Monument in 1937, but was incorporated into the park in 1956.

The geology of the Zion and Kolob canyons area includes nine formations that together represent 150 million years of mostly Mesozoic-aged sedimentation. At various periods in that time warm, shallow seas, streams, ponds and lakes, vast deserts, and dry near-shore environments covered the area. Uplift associated with the creation of the Colorado Plateaus lifted the region 10,000 feet (3,000 m) starting 13 million years ago.

The Great White Throne portrayed on Scott #747 and #763 is often used as a symbol of Zion National Park. The mountain of white Navajo Sandstone can be seen from most locations along the scenic drive running through Zion Canyon. The north face rises 2,350 feet (720 m) in 1,500 feet (460 m) from the floor of Zion Canyon near Angels Landing. It was named by the Methodist minister of Ogden, Utah, Frederick Vining Fisher, in 1916. On a trip up the canyon with Claud Hirschi, son of Rockville bishop David Hirschi, Fisher and Hirschi named many features in Zion Canyon. Late afternoon light gloriously lit up The Great White Throne, prompting Fischer to state:

Never have I seen such a sight before. It is by all odds America’s masterpiece. Boys, I have looked for this mountain all my life but I never expected to find it in this world. This mountain is the Great White Throne.

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