Religion, Politics, and Sugar

The Mormon Church, the Federal Government, and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1907 to 1921

by Matthew C. Godfrey

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Winner of the 2008 Mormon History Association Best First Book Award

"This careful study is long overdue. It is a memorable tale of religious idealism, cutthroat capitalism and crusading trust-busting."
—Brian Q. Cannon, author of Remaking the Agrarian Dream


One famous target of Progressive Era attempts to rein in monopolistic big business was the eastern Sugar Trust. Less known is how federal regulators also tried to break monopoly control over beet sugar in the West by going after the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, a business supported and controlled by the Latter-day Saints church and run by Mormon authorities.

As sugar beet agriculture boomed, the Mormon church's involvement led directly to monopolistic practices by Utah-Idaho Sugar and to federal investigations. Church leaders encouraged members, a majority population in much of the intermountain West, to patronize the company exclusively, as suppliers and consumers. As early as 1890, Mormon church president Wilford Woodruff had called missionaries to raise money for the fledgling company and asserted divine inspiration for church support.

Utah-Idaho bridged the cooperative, theocratic, self-sufficient economic model of nineteenth-century Mormonism and the integration of the Mormon West into the national market economy. Religion, Politics, and Sugar shows, through the example of an important western business, how national commercial, political, and legal forces in the early twentieth century came west and, more specifically, how they affected the important role the Mormon church played in economic affairs in the region.


The Western Historical Quarterly2008


Matthew C. Godfrey is an associate historian with Historical Research Associates Inc. in Missoula, Montana. He has published in Agricultural History, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, and elsewhere. An earlier version of this substantially revised work won the 2002 Best Dissertation Award from the Mormon History Association.

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  • Hardcover Price: $38.95
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-87421-658-5
  • Ebook Price: $25.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $5.99
  • EISBN: 978-0-87421-548-9
  • Publication Year: 2007
  • Pages: 232
  • Illustrations: photographs and maps
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Matthew C. Godfrey
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-87421-658-5
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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