Saints built Zion through in­de­pen­dence from Baby­lon

Serve Daily - - FOSTERING GROWTH - By Jesse Fisher

The Lat­ter-day Saints’ sec­ond decade in the Utah Ter­ri­tory was marked by mon­u­men­tal ef­forts un­der church di­rec­tion to es­tab­lish Zion by achiev­ing eco­nomic in­de­pen­dence from the Amer­i­can eco­nomic sys­tem, which they called “Baby­lon.”

The church’s mo­ti­va­tion to achieve to­tal eco­nomic self-suf­fi­ciency for the saints be­fore Baby­lon’s fall is re­flected in state­ments like this one by Apos­tle Wil­ford Woodruff: “We have to build up Zion in­de­pen­dent of the wicked; we have got to be­come self-sus­tain­ing, and the Lord is inspiring His prophets to preach to us to lay the foun­da­tion for the ac­com­plish­ment of this work. The day is not far dis­tant when we shall have to take care of our­selves. Great Baby­lon is go­ing to fall....”

That ef­fort to make the saints eco­nom­i­cally in­de­pen­dent is well-doc­u­mented in the book “Great Basin King­dom,” where church his­to­rian Leonard J. Ar­ring­ton re­ported on all the var­i­ous in­dus­tries and eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­oped un­der the church’s di­rec­tion. For ex­am­ple, var­i­ous colonies were es­tab­lished specif­i­cally for the pro­duc­tion of foods and prod­ucts the ter­ri­tory needed: St. Ge­orge was es­tab­lished to raise cot­ton, Santa Clara was to pro­vide grapes and other fruits, Man­tua pro­vided flax, Min­ersville pro­vided lead, zinc and sil­ver, Coalville pro­vided coal and so on. They were not sat­is­fied just to im­port th­ese items but were determined to pro­duce what they needed them­selves.

The church’s self-suf­fi­ciency pro­gram for agri­cul­tural was car­ried out through the cre­ation of the De­seret Agri­cul­tural and Man­u­fac­tur­ing So­ci­ety. The “DA&M So­ci­ety” func­tioned like to­day’s agri­cul­tural ex­ten­sion ser­vices at lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties. It pub­lished pam­phlets on best prac­tices, dis­trib­uted new seeds, held an­nual ex­hi­bi­tions and county fairs, es­tab­lished ex­per­i­men­tal gar­dens and even “im­ported im­proved breeds of sheep, goats and cat­tle.” Through it, the church also en­cour­aged the lo­cal pro­duc­tion of sugar, mo­lasses, hemp and silk among other other com­modi­ties needed to achieve self-suf­fi­ciency.

An­other agency cre­ated by the church to pro­mote the “eco­nomic unity of the ter­ri­tory and [as­sist] in its gen­eral devel­op­ment” was the De­seret Tele­graph, which con­nected most of the Mor­mon colonies with Salt Lake City with 500 miles of tele­graph line us­ing mostly vol­un­teer la­bor.

In anx­ious ex­pec­ta­tion of Baby­lon’s eco­nomic col­lapse, the saints, dur­ing the 1860s and be­yond, were highly mo­ti­vated and took high ac­tion to build Zion by be­com­ing eco­nom­i­cally “in­de­pen­dent above all other crea­tures be­neath the ce­les­tial world.” Wouldn’t it be wise of us to work to­wards that goal in­di­vid­u­ally and to­gether?

Dis­cuss this at Build­

Melissa Prins holds a Girls Night Out part at her home where those at­tend­ing pre­pared meals that could be frozen for their fam­i­lies.

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