Snow’s ex­per­i­men­tal Zion com­mu­nity proves a suc­cess

Serve Daily - - EMPOWERING LIBERTY - By Jesse Fisher

Dur­ing the decade be­gin­ning in 1864, un­der the di­rec­tion of Apos­tle Lorenzo Snow, Brigham City be­came a glow­ing ex­am­ple of Zion-like self-suf­fi­ciency and in­de­pen­dence from the Amer­i­can eco­nomic sys­tem. When an ex­tended fi­nan­cial cri­sis hit Utah in 1873, Brigham City barely no­ticed and its econ­omy ex­panded in that year more than ever.

Brigham City be­came “85 per­cent self suf­fi­cient” and its res­i­dents en­joyed full em­ploy­ment, built homes for wid­ows and the poor and even pro­vided work and food for va­grants. Snow’s eco­nomic ex­per­i­ment was likely the model for the United Or­ders Brigham Young es­tab­lished later dur­ing the 1870s. In fact, Pres­i­dent Young was re­ported to have said, “Brother Snow has led the peo­ple along, and got them into the United Or­der with­out their know­ing it.”

How in the world did Apos­tle Snow pull off such a mir­a­cle dur­ing an ex­tended eco­nomic down­turn? Ex­cel­lent ques­tion! And maybe by fol­low­ing his meth­ods, we can bet­ter pre­pare our­selves for par­tic­i­pa­tion in Zion’s econ­omy while in­su­lat­ing our­selves from the neg­a­tive side-ef­fects of Baby­lon’s. You game?

Here’s how he did it: 1. Es­tab­lished a sin­gle co­op­er­a­tive gen­eral store. 2. The prof­its were used to es­tab­lish new co­op­er­a­tives to man­u­fac­ture con­sumer goods that oth­er­wise had to be im­ported. A tan­nery and a woolen fac­tory were the first. 3. Each new co­op­er­a­tive sold its goods through the co­op­er­a­tive. Church His­to­rian Leonard J. Ar­ring­ton, in his mon­u­men­tal work “Great Basin King­dom,” re­ported that “al­most ev­ery con­ceiv­able good and ser­vice, from brooms and hats to mo­lasses and fur­ni­ture was pro­duced and sold in one of th­ese [co­op­er­a­tives] .... Nearly all the work­men in this vil­lage of two thou­sand peo­ple owned shares in ‘The Coop’ and were em­ployed in one of [its] de­part­ments.” He also wrote, “Brigham City came to be rec­og­nized as a ‘hive of in­dus­try’ - one of the most pros­per­ous and pro­gres­sive set­tle­ments in the ter­ri­tory.” In fact, so­cial en­trepreneurs from as far away as Eng­land came to see what Snow and the Saints had ac­com­plished.

As men­tioned last time, Apos­tle Wil­ford Woodruff ex­pressed the im­por­tance of the Saints achiev­ing eco­nomic self-suf­fi­ciency when he stated, “Great Baby­lon is go­ing to fall .... It is wis­dom that we should lay the foun­da­tion to pro­vide for our­selves.” If such an ex­per­i­ment as Brigham City were launched to­day, per­haps vir­tu­ally at first, would you want to par­tic­i­pate? Enough to work to help it suc­ceed?

Dis­cuss this ar­ti­cle at Build­ingZion.org.

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