Utah is a landlocked state located in the Western United State. It shares a border with Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and shares a corner with New Mexico. Utah is probably best known for having a high percentage of practicing members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as LDS or Mormons), who have greatly influenced the history and culture of this state. However, this history of Utah goes back far beyond the settlement of the Mormons. Let’s take a brief look at this history and find out when Utah was made a state.
Human habitation in the area we now know as Utah dates back many thousands of years, when Native America tribes called the region home. The first European expeditions into the region began in the 16th century when a team of men led by Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado began searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. Spain took control of the region, but had no interest in colonizing the region because it was mostly desert. Despite this, the region became a part of Mexico when the country achieved independence from Spain in 1821. The development of Utah mostly occurred after the discovery of the Great Salt Lake in 1824. After this time many trading posts were established in the area. Utah was part of the area captured by the U.S. during the Mexican-American War and officially became the property of the United States in 1848.
In 1847 many members of the LDS settled in Utah, led by Brigham Young. They settled in the Salt Lake Valley to create Salt Lake City and more than 70,000 members of the church settled in the region in the next two decades. In 1850 the settlers applied for statehood with a large portion of land. This was called State of Deseret and encompassed much of the southwestern United States. This proposal was not granted and instead the government created the smaller Utah Territory. This territory was originally made up of modern day Utah and much of modern day Nevada and Colorado, with a small portion of Wyoming. In 1868 the territory’s borders became identical to the modern day state. After the creation of the Utah Territory the U.S. government and the LDS church began to have disputes, particularly around the practice of polygamy (plural marriage). One of the conditions of being admitted into the Union was the Utah banned polygamy and the church agreed to do this in 1890. Utah applied for statehood again at the time and was accepted. The state was officially admitted to the Union on January 4, 1896.