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The United Order is a plan of economic relationship designed to effect a redistribution of property in order that a measurable degree of economic equality may be achieved. The plan further provides a means for perpetuating this equality. It is characteristically Mormon in origin and in method. At two distinct periods (1831-34 and 1874-83), the Mormon Church has made efforts to bring about its establishment. At neither time was ultimate success achieved, though progress was made. The early effort was interrupted after two years of trial by the old settlers of Missouri, who expelled the Mormons from Jackson County. It was, therefore, an unfinished experiment. The later attempt under Brigham Young was brought to an end in most of the settlements by the Church leaders themselves, who soon discovered that, since membership was voluntary, two distinct classes were forming in the Church, and this was considered undesirable. Lorenzo Snow dissolved the Richfield, Utah, unit (the most widely known effort of the period) in 1878, soon after the death of Brigham Young and gave no reasons for the action taken. In a few towns where everybody became members of the Order, such as Orderville, Utah, and Glenwood, Utah, strong influence was brought to bear by the general authoriʻies of the Church to make the organizations permanent, but, unfortunately, in these towns the plans were launched on a communistic basis and the people finally rebelled against the monotonous existence which resulted, The United Order, as given by Joseph Smith, is not communistic but is based on private property. This study is concerned with the first, or Missouri, period only.
Source material is somewhat limited. In those days Independence, Missouri, was on the western confines of civilization and pioneer conditions prevailed. Detailed accounts of business operations were probably not kept. The troubled and unsettled conditions under which the Mormons lived and which required frequent forced migrations added also to the difficulty of preserving records. Chief reliance in making this study has, therefore, necessarily been centered on the Doctrine and Covenants, the Evening and Morning Star (a monthly published at Independence, 183234) the Messenger and Advocate (a monthly published at Kirtland, O., 1834-37), the Times and Seasons (a semi-monthly, after Nov., 1840, published at Commerce, later called Nauvoo, 111., 183946), the Millennial Star (a monthly, later a weekly, published first in 1840 at Manchester, England, but removed a few months later to Liverpool, England, where it is still being published), and the History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, which has been printed separately with introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, but is also contained in the Times and Seasons and the Millennial Star. Frequent comparisons have been made with the many writers, Mormon and non- -Mormon, who have included an account of the Jackson County period of Mormon history in their writings. Reference to such works are to be found in the foot-notes as the enquiry proceeds.
A two-fold purpose has actuated the writer in prosecuting this study. He has constantly held in view the lay reader, particularly among the Mormon people where the desire still lives to re-establish the United Order at some future time. In doing this, however, he has endeavored not to lose sight of the student of economics. The nature of the subject and the materials with which it deals are of such a character that some training in economic theory is requisite to an adequate understanding of the problems presented.
Few investigations, indeed, have been made into Mormon topics which have not been colored by either a pronounced feeling of friendliness which has thrown a sort of halo about personages and events, or by a more or less intense antagonism which has, to an extent, determined subject matter selected and conclusions drawn.
A conscious effort has been made to avoid religious prejudice. Plans and efforts have been examined with a desire to seek out excellence and to give credit where such was due; likewise, to observe shortcomings and to point out errors that have been made, to the end that the work of these early Mormon pioneers in economic organization might be examined in such a way that the record would be useful. Perhaps it may be found that in the course of their striving some difficult questions were solved, or some wrong tendencies were found to be wrong, or still yet that some useful plan founded on right principles was found to be worthy a place in the annals of progress.
The writer takes pleasure in acknowledging indebtedness to Professor E. R. A. Seligman for counsel and encouragement; to Professor Henry R. Seager, for kindly assistance, and to Professor Robert E. Chaddock for helpful suggestions. He desires, also, to render grateful acknowledgment to Professor A. N. Sorensen, of the Brigham Young College; to Dr. Ray Gledhill, of Richfield, Utah; and to Ezra F. Woolley, of Preston, Idaho; and, finally, to that good man, my father, who has never failed his sons in time of need and who finds one of his life's desires fulfilled in the publication of this book.
Joseph A. Geddes.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Owenism and New Harmony.
Sidney Rigdon's Communists.
Part I. The United Order Plan in Operation
The French Farm at Kirtland.
Ųse of plan in Arid West.
Propositions of the old settlers.
Counter-propositions of the Mormons.
The Minutes of the old Settlers' Meetings.
Comparison of incentives.
Probable future consecrations.
Gains through central planning and direction.