Pres­i­dent John Tay­lor’s great­est achieve­ment

Serve Daily - - EMPOWERING LIBERTY - By Jesse Fisher

As men­tioned last time, John Tay­lor wasted no time af­ter the death of Brigham Young in work­ing to unify the Saints eco­nom­i­cally in a Zion-like fash­ion. Young’s ef­forts had failed to suc­cess­fully in­sti­tute the United Or­der a sec­ond time among the mem­bers of the church gen­er­ally.

In 1879, Zion’s Cen­tral Board of Trade was es­tab­lished by the newly sus­tained pres­i­dent of The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints. Pres­i­dent Tay­lor had seen the suc­cess of the Cache Val­ley Board of Trade and saw it as ve­hi­cle to pre­pare the peo­ple for vol­un­tary eco­nomic unity.

The long-run pur­pose of the as­so­ci­a­tion was “to pre­pare the way for a more com­pletely co­op­er­a­tive so­ci­ety” among the Mor­mon set­tle­ments. Utah his­to­rian Ed­ward Tul­lidge re­ported that the move­ment promised to over­come the ever-present con­flict be­tween cap­i­tal and la­bor by creat­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing and mar­ket­ing co­op­er­a­tives. This view was echoed by the edi­tor of the De­seret News at the time: “Here is the grand­est op­por­tu­nity for the build­ing up of a self-sus­tain­ing, in­dus­trial and pow­er­ful sys­tem of co­op­er­a­tive ef­fort ever of­fered in the his­tory of the world .... What is needed? Prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion. Union of cap­i­tal and la­bor, mu­tual in­ter­est be­tween con­sumer and pro­ducer.”

The board’s in­cor­po­ra­tion pa­pers of­fer a long list of goals for the as­so­ci­a­tion which in­clude: help­ing get im­ported goods into the hands of con­sumers as cheaply as pos­si­ble; quickly re­solv­ing busi­ness dis­putes; en­cour­ag­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing; seek­ing mar­kets for home­made prod­ucts; and “to fos­ter cap­i­tal and pro­tect la­bor, unit­ing them as friends rather than di­vid­ing them as enemies.”

The cen­tral board hosted a grand con­ven­tion in 1881 in Salt Lake City to “de­velop and as­sist our home in­dus­tries ... and to uti­lize the nat­u­ral re­sources of the Ter­ri­tory.” Nine­teen in­dus­tries were on the agenda led by the man­u­fac­tur­ing of iron. The board’s first long-term suc­cess was the cre­ation of a buyer’s co-op (sim­i­lar to today’s con­sumer co-ops) for im­port­ing wag­ons and farm tools. That ven­ture served the peo­ple for four decades.

Church His­to­rian Leonard J. Ar­ring­ton re­ported that “[T]he en­force­ment of the Edmunds Anti-polygamy Act in 1884 and there­after de­stroyed Zion’s Board of Trade. There is no al­ter­na­tive ex­pla­na­tion. Board of Trade ac­tiv­i­ties were not de­clin­ing, but gain­ing mo­men­tum when ‘the raid’ started.” Early LDS Church lead­ers saw co­op­er­a­tives as a prepara­tory step­ping­stone to the United Or­ders. What if suc­cess­ful LDS busi­ness­men were to work to­gether today to re­vive Tay­lor’s “great­est achieve­ment”? -- Dis­cuss this col­umn at Build­

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