Monday, September 13, 2010

San Diego as a Mormon port? A big maybe from history

An interesting article in the Voice of San Diego points out that the Mormon Church once had designs on San Diego.  Back in the late 1840's, the Mormons facing persecution back east traveled west to freedom.  The Prophet Joseph Smith first led his flock from New York state (the burned-over district, so named because so many religious movements were starting up there in the early 1800's) to Illinois.  But there was trouble with a splinter group, and while awaiting trial for starting a riot, a mob appeared and lynched Joseph Smith.  Brigham Young became president of the Church and led them even further west to the Salt Lake area.

Brigham Young's dream was to create a country called "Deseret", covering what is now much of Utah, Nevada and Arizona, which was nominally under Mexican ownership, but practically empty.  And a country could use a port, so he sent some followers to settle in San Diego.  But Manifest Destiny would foil his plans.  In 1846 a US Army patrol ventured into Mexican territory, probably to provoke a response, and after the Mexican army attacked the Congress declared war.  In February of 1848, with the US Army occupying Mexico City, both sides signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, selling the southwest to the USA.  The American government was particularly against the Mormons' insistence on polygamy, so their territorial claims came to nothing.  California became a state on September 9, 1850.  And after then-president Wilford Woodruff had a revelation that Jesus Christ was ordering the Church to abandon polygamy, Utah became a state in 1896.

Was there ever a real possibility that San Diego could have become part of "Deseret"?  Probably not since the Mormon population did not develop fast enough to take over the area and missed their opportunity.  Perhaps if the Mormons had shown up here a few decades earlier it could have happened...

1 comment:

  1. I had recently listened to someone talk about how Mecca was intolerant. His premises would point to the Koran, and furthered by the institutional support of the people in the society. Cars are diverted to various streets to make sure that "non believers" can't get in to see their special Mosque, and if that fails you can look to postings in various languages that will make it clear that being a "non believer" is not welcomed. But I recall my old foreman discussing his identity, and religion with me on the way home in the personal space of the company truck. Later, I took a tour of his holy mormon temple. It is that they are both a "mecca of intolerance" in some respects. this is the connection I found interesting.