Wednesday, June 3, 2009

George W. Emery

At least one of the territorial governors of Utah was from Tennessee. George W. Emery was appointed by Ulysses S Grant and served as Governor from 1875 to 1880. Prior to his tenure as governor, he lived in Tennessee.

A couple of noteworthy events happened during his term. Ulysses S Grant made his famous visit to Utah in October 1875 to a friendly reception. It was to Governor Emery he made his comment about the lies he had been told about the Mormons' disloyalty: "I have been deceived."

It was also during his term that John D. Lee was tried and executed.

Emery was criticised for not taking a strong stand against the LDS Church. He limited his anti Mormon activities to pushing for legislation against Polygamy, otherwise taking a strictly neutral administrative tone. He did modify the balloting process to make it more anonymous amidst complaints that Mormons were not free to vote their conscience.

What I found interesting as the claim he was from Tennessee. Being a Republican appointee, I found it unlikely that he would be from a former confederate state so soon after the Civil War. Turns out he was in Tennessee as an appointment as Supervisor of Internal Revenue in former Confederate states. He was based out of Tennessee from 1870 to 1874. Prior to that he worked at a law firm in Boston. His appointment to Tennessee was due to his volunteer work on Republican campaigns.

At the end of his term as governor the territorial legislature named a county in Utah after him. He made an attempt to get reappointed but after that failed he retired to Massachusetts where in 1909 he died.

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