Utah’s quest for statehood lasted longer, involved more political intrigue, and garnered more national attention than any other US territory. While Utahns—especially the Mormon population—hoped statehood would grant them increased political autonomy, the several decades of refusal by church leadership to denounce polygamy stalled even the most carefully executed political schemes.
Even without the albatross of polygamy, the territory presented a unique set of challenges. Lingering distrust toward the federal government blurred the lines separating church and state. LDS leaders considered themselves anointed by God to lead the government. Officials sent from Washington to dilute Mormon control found themselves in hostile, dangerous terrain.
Aware of the complexity of this fifty-year struggle, historian Edward Leo Lyman carefully traces the key figures, events, and cultural shifts leading to Utah’s admission to the Union. Utilizing an abundance of careful research, Finally Statehood! is a unique attempt to understand the state’s history on both a local and national level, with each political roadblock, religious conflict, and earnest attempt at compromise meticulously examined under the vantage of time.
Edward Leo Lyman is a professor of history at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, and formerly California Polytechnic University and California State University San Bernardino. He is the author of The Arduous Journey: Salt Lake to Los Angeles; A History of Millard County, Utah; Political Deliverance: The Mormon Quest for Utah Statehood; and San Bernardino: The Rise and Fall of a California Community. Lyman’s work has also appeared in Arizona and the West, Brigham Young University Studies, California History, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Idaho Yesterdays, Southern California Quarterly, and the Utah Historical Quarterly.