Capitalism in the West: Morons may have been among the first to settle in Utah; however their ideology and motivations were greatly derived from manifest destiny and the ongoing quest of capitalism for a better way of life. The spirit of hard work, stewardship and rugged individualism was preached by the church’s founder, Joseph Smith Jar. Fleeing discrimination and religious persecution their journey west ended at the seemingly uninhabitable Great Basin of present day Utah.
The Mormon settlement of Utah can largely be seen as an extension if not a erectly related to Manifest Destiny and the idea of Americans’ seizing land in the rugged frontier. Upon Smith’s death, Brigham Young eventually seized control of the Mormon community. Looking to create the Kingdom of God where the Saints could live free of persecution, they ventured further west. Unlike most others that moved to the frontier at this time, the “Mormon trek was an organized and directed movement of an entire community” under the direction of the church leadership. No single group had previously set their sights west with the intention of establishing a community. Along with the iris settlers in 1847. This pioneering spirit to break and lead new ground complies explicitly with the American myth of the frontier. The Utah settlers come for different reasons than their fellow trail followers, but they were heeding the same call out west that had been ingrained in them as Americans. For most, the idea of striking it rich by discovering a valuable claim yielded to the ambition of earning a good wage and, if the opportunity presented itself, of raising a family in a wholesome community.
Many still dreamt of sudden wealth, and gambling with stocks became the most common outlet for this hope. The ‘errs” seized this opportunity to strike it rich in hopes of leading a healthy and opulent life. This “strike it rich” quick mentality greatly differed from the Utah settlers. They were trying to scratch out a living and survive, not to mention church teachings did not look favorably on greed. Whereas genealogy divided classes in the Old World, money and hard work divided classes on the American frontier. 3 This became uniquely American.
And this myth of America as a place of opportunity and optimism is still a part Of the American character-4 Also, the American tradition Of competition and elf-betterment was born on the frontier and continues in America even today. It is important to bear this idealism of the West in mind. The very materialism that has been urged with the West was accompanied by ideals of equality, of the exaltation of the common man, of national expansion which the Utah settlers shared in practice if not in ideology. Western democracy included individual liberty, as well as equality. The frontiersman was impatient of restraints.
He knew how to preserve order, even in the absence of legal authority. If there were cattle thieves, lynch law was sudden and effective. But the individual was not ready to submit to complex regulations. 5 Population was sparse; there was no multitude of competing interests, as in older settlements, demanding an elaborate system of personal restraints. There was a reproduction of the primitive idea of the personality of the law; a crime was more an offense against the victim than a violation of the law of the land. Substantial justice, secured in the most direct way, was the ideal of the backwoodsman. He had little patience with finely drawn distinctions or means of method. If the thing was one pragmatic to be one, then the most immediate, rough and ready, effective way was the best way. Utah settlers followed this model, although with less personal autonomy and more respect for religious authority in worldly matters. 7 Mormon settlers followed this Idea in the “spirit” of the law rather than the “letter” of the law in forging their new identity out west. It followed from the lack of organized political life in the backwoods society, that the individual was exalted and given free play.
The West was another name for opportunity. Here were mines to be seized, fertile valleys to be lamed; all the natural resources open to the shrewdest and the boldest. The United States is unique in the extent to which the individual has been given an open field, unchecked by restraints of an old social order, or of restrictions of government. 8 The self-made man was the Western man’s ideal, was the kind of man that all men might become. Out of his wilderness experience, out Of the freedom Of his opportunities, he fashioned a formula for social regeneration, the freedom of the individual to seek his own.
This also was the way of the Utah early settler which was effectively a country unto itself. 9 Without hindrances settlers claimed the Salt Lake Valley and made it their own in the manner which they saw fit, relying only on their own better judgment and ability to make it manifest. The Mormon community, which isolated itself from the rest of society, was a theocratic state. The religious directive was beneficial to the early development of Salt Lake Valley; however it did run contrary to the founding ideals of the country.
The American principle of separation of church and state was not accepted nor practiced in Mormon communities. The pooling of resound:sees for the betterment of the community also went against the spirit of fatalism. Eventually, a more modern preference towards the exchange of goods was undertaking and the LIDS church incorporated many assets unto itself in a manner which directly benefited them financially and economically. 10 The Saints, under new leadership in the late sass, began to develop business initiatives to compete in a changing western landscape.
Creating a rail line to Salt Lake City was a lucrative investment. 11 It was, however, still directed by the church, but still was a echo of the American spirit. Pioneer Sprit Individualism was one of the most important and distinctive qualities rated by the frontier: That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and materialism; these are traits of the frontier, or traits a direct causation of the existence of the frontier. 12 In this manner, early LIDS settlers embodied every aspect from the quintessential frontier lifestyle.
Although many of their fellow trekkers endured similar hardships, none had faced such pre-existing conditions as ongoing and endemic religious persecution. Once the Utah Settlers completed their arduous journey they did not choose the quick and easy path of mining or prospecting, but chose to farm in a impolitely alien and inhospitable climate. This courage and aptitude cemented the Utah settler into a common American myth of a western pioneer. One aspect Of Western pioneer life that early Utah shared with others is their common facing of the inhospitable desert landscape.
Some of the worst dangers that could occur would be breaking a wagon wheel, poison water, and hostile indigenous natives. Despite the dangers on the trail, the expansionists went forward to secure a better life for themselves and their families. The fact that these people were willing to weather these dangers gaslights the power of American determination, a factor which is so prevalent in the American Dream. 13 As a result, many of the people who traveled and completed the trail were successful in achieving their goal of incurring a better life by settling down, raising a family, and setting up farms.
The idea of ‘starting over is closely connected with opportunity and an important part Of the frontier myth which the Utah settlers were following, perhaps unaware. American social development has been continually beginning on the frontier. This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, his expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnished the forces dominating American character. 14 The wilderness overwhelmed the newcomers and reduced them to a sort of “primitiveness. 15 Similar to other western pioneers, Utah settlers had to combat the unforgiving and lethal environment that forced them to be hard and reliable. In doing so, early Utah settlers incorporated themselves into the American mosaic of strength of character. Manifest Destiny America as a unique nation was already a belief when the first colonies were established on the East coast. And the notion that America was exceptional would continue to be re-created again and again on the frontier.
The frontier was closely related to the myth that sustained the American faith, the ideals and images that represent the American Dream as well as America as an exceptional nation This idea was helped by the governments offer of free land which led to new opportunities. It was up to each individual and their desire to work hard and climb the economic and social ladder: “… Each frontier did indeed furnish a new field of opportunity, a gate of escape from the bondage of the past; and rashness, and confidence, and scorn of older society” . 6 Everything was open to the man who knew how to seize the opportunity. The self-made man became the Ideal of the West. Many Miners, fur traders, rangers, and farmers were enticed by this and migrated west to seek a better life. Americans had a belief that a providential mission to move west while expanding territory, liberty, and freedom was a divine ordinance not to be denied. Utah settlers assuredly followed a divine mandate; however under a different banner and purpose than their western neighbors. This idea of renewal in the west was embodied by their quest to a new land.
The frontier was seen as a crucible where people with different backgrounds came together and formed a distinct American character: “In the crucible of the frontier the immigrants were Americanizes, liberated and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality nor characteristics. The result was the formation of a composite nationality for the American people. 17 Through their common hardships and deprivations all of the settlers became unified in purpose even if their methods were opposed. The west was being cultivated through various means and methods, all aligned in heir purpose whether they were aware of it or not.
Early LIDS settlers also incorporated these ideas into their belief systems. Many of the Mormon traditions of honest hard word and seeking to find better opportunities are not unique to the LIDS population. Instances where they differed were their interpretation of religion, but even their journey to escape persecution echoes past Americans seeking a better life. Early settlers were relatively socialistic when it came to the sharing Of goods and services; however individually owned farms and properties eventually became the norm much like their territorial neighbors.
Conclusion The frontier has become essential to Americans’ actualization of self. The belief that westernizes defines America as our unique national heritage, and that it amounted to the purest expression of American idealism. It was on the western frontier you could trace the uniquely American character traits like individualism and opportunity. The West would be known as a place for opportunity and success for millions of Americans throughout the frontier including the Mormon settlers.