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Utah's Territorial Governors (1850-1896)

During the territorial period, from 1850 to 1895, Utahns didn't elect their governors. The president of the United States appointed Utah's governors. Except for Brigham Young, all the territorial governors came from outside Utah territory and were and non-Mormons.

Utah was so far away from the East and the centers of power that not everybody wanted the assignment.

So--some of those willing to serve in the western territories were not very capable. Some did not have good character. These men did not accomplish much good.

However, some governors were very capable and made a positive difference in Utah.

 

Brigham YoungBRIGHAM YOUNG
Governor: 1850-1858
(Lived 1801-1877)

Brigham Young was Utah's first territorial governor. As leader of the Mormon church, he already had absolute political power when Utah became a territory. So when President Millard Fillmore appointed him governor, things didn't change much. President Franklin Pierce reappointed him in 1854.

Young worked to organize the government, select the location of the capital (in Fillmore), and begin building a territorial statehouse. In 1858, he moved the capital to Salt Lake City.

In 1857 President James Buchanan heard rumors that the Mormons had rebelled against the United States government. He sent Alfred Cumming to replace Young. An army escorted