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For those who don't know: when the Mormons fled the U.S. to Mexico, they established their own state called Deseret.

Map showing region covering parts of nine states

Let us assume that this state maintained its sovereignty to the current date and time. What does the map of America look like? Politically, economically and culturally (mostly culturally to avoid being overboard.)

[Yes, you are not mistaken, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix are in that outline.]

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closed as off-topic by Serban Tanasa, Hohmannfan, James, Jim2B, bowlturner Jan 28 '16 at 20:43

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  • "Questions about Idea Generation are off-topic because they tend to result in list answers with no objective means to compare the quality of one answer with the others. For more information, see What's wrong with idea-generation questions?." – Serban Tanasa, Hohmannfan, Jim2B
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    $\begingroup$ Are you sure it ever was independent and sovereign state? I don't see anything suggesting that. I mean they sent people to Washington to request status as a state not as an independent country, no? And even that was in response to California applying for statehood, before they applied for territory status, which is what they actually got. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Jan 28 '16 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ What's your question exactly? You provided a political map that supposedly answers your question. Sounds like idea generation to me. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Jan 28 '16 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ Southern California in particular would never have been held by Deseret. The US had a military presence in there after the Mexican War. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Jan 28 '16 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ Ville is right. The Mormon pioneers never wanted to leave the USA; they simply wanted a place to call home where they could live in safety. Moving beyond the frontier was literally a last resort, after they had tried to speak with contact with Congress, the President, and the governors of every single state at the time, and no one could offer them a safe haven where they would be free from persecution. In the end, they had no choice left but to make their own. $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jan 28 '16 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ @MasonWheeler Some Mormons very much wanted a sovereign state. I don't believe it every effectively happened but... $\endgroup$ – James Jan 28 '16 at 19:16
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This possibility was explored in the Deadlands series of tabletop roleplaying games. In that series, Desert was restricted to the modern-day state of Utah.

Let's remember that any discussion about Deseret continuing to exist means that we have to assume that other changes had to have happened in the timeline. These are the changes to history that Deadlands assumes that affect Deseret.

  • The US Civil War petered out into a stalemate, with the result of the Confederate States of America remaining independent
  • Increased interest in a trans-continental railroad resulted in the CSA annexing a good portion of the southern Great Basin
  • The Union Army had several tragic armed conflicts with the Mormons (it was never all-out war, and I vaguely recall that the US Army was the aggressor in those cases)
  • Neither had the resources to annex Deseret and it was deemed a low priority.

Also, the Mormons felt that neither government was serving their interests and they were better off remaining independent than voluntarily joining either nation:

The Saints muddled along until 1866. By then, with no end in sight for the Civil War [thus no support from either government who were too focused on the war] and several unfortunate conflicts with Gentiles (including the Union army) under their belts, Brigham Young declared the Mormons would rule themselves until such time as the government had the resources to properly address the Saints’ concerns and complaints. The new nation was named Deseret, and encompasses all of the territory known to Gentiles as Utah. —Deadlands Reloaded: Player's Guide

In other words, while the Mormons might have wanted to rule a larger area, conflicts with the United States government and annexations from the Confederate States government resulted in the Mormons choosing to have Desert be a smaller than planned area in order to avoid further conflicts with either government. Neither the USA nor the CSA had the resources to pursue the matter further at the time, so they became a de facto independent nation.

In Deadlands Noir, set in the 1930s, this is what the map looked like (with the Confederate States of America still extant, along with the Sioux Nations):

Deadlands Noir Map

The nation is also still present with the same boundaries prior to the apocalypse that begins Deadlands: Hell on Earth, set in the 2090s. So Deseret maintained sovereignty for over 200 years.

To my knowledge, this is one of the most thorough explorations in a work of fiction concerning how an independent nation of Deseret might have developed. Things might have developed differently had there been different changes to the original timeline than those outlined above, but I think that this is a reasonable interpretation given the timeline of events that the authors presented.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's not realistic at all. Part of the point of going to Utah was to avoid conflicts with the US and the people in it. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 28 '16 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon You don't think Manifest Destiny would've existed if Mormons succeeded with Deseret? $\endgroup$ – TylerH Jan 28 '16 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. The Mormons did ultimately avoid conflicts with the US and created an independent nation recognized for decades. In this timeline, it was the fact that the USA and CSA didn't have the resources to renew conflicts that resulted in their nation. $\endgroup$ – Thunderforge Jan 28 '16 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ But he said that Mormons went to war against the US, but the opposite really happened, and the opposite was the goal. And of course there would be manifest destiny. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 28 '16 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon The OP didn't mention that the Mormons went to war against the US, and I didn't mean to imply that in my answer. Instead, this timeline resulted in some isolated armed conflicts (I think that it was something to do with letting the US armies control a key strategic point), but never all out war. $\endgroup$ – Thunderforge Jan 28 '16 at 20:41
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First it would be further east and north than the map in the question. In 1846 the US invaded and defeated Mexico and in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo received the rights to all the territory that you claim for Deseret. The US had large loyal populations in Texas and California, and easily the strongest army on the continent.

Since the US had just won a major war to get for the territory Deseret claims why would the US give it up? There was a lot of gold in the area.

Something major would need to happen, and that would be the largest difference in culture. Were the Mormons much better warriors in this version, Serban Tanasa's answer.

I could see an independent Deseret state further north and east where the territory claims were more disputed and populations were more sparse. But there would be a huge trade disadvantage since the US would probably hold the coast so the LDS would be land locked.

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  • $\begingroup$ They actually didn't know very much about the gold in the area back then. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 28 '16 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon True but at a later date when the gold was discovered it would have been yet another reason for and expansionist US to invade. $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Jan 28 '16 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ But at that point, the LDS people would just let the government through, and put them on their way to California. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 28 '16 at 21:19
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First, let me say that the state of Deseret would not maintain its independence. The LDS people believed and still do, that the constitution was created by men who were inspired to do the right thing.

They would try to join the US, and it would be tricky for this to occur. The sentiment at the time was that Mormons were evil, and they were shunned and kicked out the the US. The US at the time, or at least their politicians, would have to have a total change of heart. Which may or may not be possible, you would have to flesh that out.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church) would definitely be more widespread. You would have another large state like Texas, where certain beliefs would be more widespread. A little bit less government control there too. I don't think much would change, though.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this actually answers the question, since it assumes that Deseret would not stay independent. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Jan 28 '16 at 16:46
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Monochromatic

enter image description here

Given that in the Alt-World Deseret exists, while in the Prime-World Deseret was invaded by the US Army, one might be tempted to believe that one way Deseret would be independent is if they somehow took over the United States as the dominant religious and political entity.

From the 8743rd propaganda war journal:

The 15th Holy Crusade started yesterday at 11:45 AM, with massive nuclear strikes directed at the heavily fortified Heathen positions along the Yellow River. 50,000 tanks, 40,000,000 soldiers and 80,000 aircraft set out to bring the word of our Glorious Prophet to our enemies. Our beehive banners now flutter over the glowing embers of our enemies fortifications, and our troops are making continued steady advances.

In other news, our colonies in Afghanistan have reached the critical threshold of 3,000,000 settlers, despite continued ...

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jan 29 '16 at 3:12
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At the time the Mormons move out, this entire area was claimed by the US, and no nation could claim it back. So how could this happen?

The US would have to give up some claims. Why give land to flaky religious nuts? Lets say guilt. What if the persecution the Mormons suffered led to some horrifying incident, a pogrom even, where numerous Mormons were killed. Revulsion might have led to the nation gifting the surviving Mormons with a state - land locked to avoid foreign intervention. Reserving right of ways for transcontinental railroads later, a strip of land from the Salt Lake City west to the Sierras might be granted - North Utah, North Nevada, and bits of Wyoming and Idaho. The discovery of Silver mines in Nevada and Mormon hard work could lead to this "hole in the doughnut" state prospering.

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  • $\begingroup$ I thought The first company of Mormons landed in Salt Lake in 1847 the Mexican war started in the same year. When did the U.S. claim the area? $\endgroup$ – King-Ink Jan 28 '16 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ Texas claimed huge areas, and Mexico held the rest. The US claimed the entire region North of the California border. Within a year it would take by force the entire area from Mexico. Deseret was not proposed until 1849. There was no legal vacuum there to carve a state out of without aid. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Jan 28 '16 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ The situation you are describing reminds me of the situation of the Native Americans in the United States today - sort of independent, while still being confined by American laws in some ways. So perhaps you could draw some inspiration from the legal status of Native American lands to further augment your answer. $\endgroup$ – Jerenda Jan 28 '16 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ A difference is that the Mormons, religion aside would be respected by most as "civilized" and might be able to get a more durable semi-sovereignty from the US that would not be snatched back when convenient. A feeling that the US had maltreated its citizens so they needed self rule might do that..and if Deseret did not try and form links with foreign nations, or arm or expand might allow a relation to persist. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Jan 28 '16 at 23:04

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