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A history of Utah radicalism: startling, socialistic, and decidedly revolutionary




McCormick, John S., author
Sillito, John R., author
Utah State University Press, publisher

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Utah, now one of the most conservative states, has a long tradition of left-wing radicalism. Early Mormon settlers set a precedent with the United Order and other experiments with a socialistic economy. The tradition continued into the more recent past with New Left, anti-apartheid, and other radicals. Throughout, Utah radicalism usually reflected national and international developments. Recounting its long history, McCormick and Sillito focus especially on the Socialist Party of America, which reached a peak of political influence in the first two decades of the twentieth century--in Utah and across the nation. At least 115 Socialists in over two dozen Utah towns and cities were elected to office in that period, and on seven occasions they controlled governments, of five different municipalities. This is a little-known story worth a closer look. Histories of Socialism in the United States have tended to forsake attention to details, to specific, local cases and situations, in favor of broader overviews of the movement. By looking closely at Utah's experience, this book helps unravel how American Socialism briefly flowered and rapidly withered in the early twentieth century. It also broadens conventional understanding of Utah history. McCormick and Sillito write about the Utah manifestations of the international Socialist movement, in particular the Socialist Party of America, which reached a peak of political success and influence in the early twentieth century--in Utah as well as the nation at large. That history is the centerpiece of this narrative, but the authors connect it to a broader tradition of radicalism in Utah. As they state, Utah has a long-standing radical tradition of such movements, beginning with the arrival of the Mormons in 1847 and continuing to the present, that have challenged the fundamental principles on which society has been established and have offered alternative visions of how to live and organize life. The Socialist Party was particularly successful in the first two decades of the twentieth century. At least 115 Socialists in over two-dozen Utah towns and cities were elected to office in that period, and on seven occasions Socialists held governing majorities, in five different municipalities. The authors note that the historiography of Socialism in the United States has been limited by a lack of attention to details, to case studies, and to specific actualities but has instead favored general overviews, and therefore, they seek to contribute to a better understanding of what specifically was involved in Socialism's brief flowering and rapid decline in the first part of the last century.--Provided by publisher.


Includes bibliographical references and index.

Rights Access

Access is limited to the Adams State University, Colorado State University, Colorado State University Pueblo, Community College of Denver, Fort Lewis College, Metropolitan State University Denver, Regis University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, University of Colorado Denver, University of Denver, University of Northern Colorado, University of Wyoming, Utah State University and Western Colorado University communities only.


Socialism -- Utah
Radicalism -- Utah -- History
Utah -- Politics and government


Associated Publications