Date of Defense





The years 1847-1886 mark the period of the establishment expansion and contraction of the Mormon theocratic state of Deseret in the American West. By the late 1880s, hemmed in on an aides by the rapidly developing network of Gentile expansion and development, the Mormons were running out of time and virgin lands inviting occupation.

After the end of the Civil war the mounting campaign against polygamy had made it a national cause celebre, as repugnant as slavery, which had to be expurgated from the national body. The Federal Government, armed with draconic new laws, commenced a determined campaign against the Church. For Mormonism. this was a grave crisis. Joseph Smith had proclaimed "multiple marriage" as a divine revelation which was first and foremost an article of faith, and not a mere social innovation. This time there was no question of resisting the Federal Government by armed force, but the desperate need existed of saving the Church hierarchy from imprisonment. In this trying situation, Brigham Young's ( d. 1877 ) program of Mexican colonisation came to be viewed in a different light by the Church.

Exploration parties were again sent into Chihuahua and Sonora and negotiations were entered into with the Mexican Government. The final choice was made with the purchase of ranchlands in North Western Chihuahua, and Mormon families, mainly from the Dixie and Arizona colonies began to move across the international boundary in 1885. Within a few years, six prosperous colonies had been established, with the addition of two more in neighboring Sonora. These settlements were to grow and prosper until Mexico was engulfed in the violent upheaval of the Madero Revolution of 1910.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only