45. Constitution of the State of Deseret, With the Journal of the Convention Which Formed It, and the Proceedings of the Legislature Consequent Thereon. Kanesville, Published by Orson Hyde, 1849.
From the early settlement of the Salt Lake Valley there was considerable concern among church leaders that the saints be allowed to govern themselves in their new frontier home. Obviously in the past there had been numerous and severe difficulties between the Mormons and the civil governments of Missouri and Illinois. The governing body of the settlement, in the beginning of course, was the church, first Brigham Young and the apostles of the initial pioneer company. But by September of 1848 the civic duties had been transferred to the Council of Fifty who in December petitioned the Congress of the United States for territorial status. But by early July 1849 a change of thinking had occurred. They desired a state government rather than a territorial government.
One of the reasons for this change was the Mormon perception that with territorial status there was a high likelihood that non-Mormons from Washington would be appointed into positions of authority in a territorial government. Church leaders felt that if Deseret could become a state the Mormons had a much better chance to place Mormons in governmental positions by election rather than non-Mormons by appointment.
The Constitution of the State of Deseret is the formal application to the federal government for statehood. It is patterned after other such constitutions for the period especially the Constitution for the State of Iowa of 1846 with special detail given to formality and procedure to show those in Washington that the traditional political processes were being followed by the Mormons in Deseret.
The Constitution was written in Great Salt Lake City between July 1 and July 18, 1849 with Almon W. Babbit leaving the Salt Lake Valley on July 27 with the manuscript headed for Kanesville, Iowa where he arrived on September 3rd. The Constitution was printed in Kanesville because it was there that the only operating press of the Church in America was then publishing the semi-monthly newspaper, The Frontier Guardian, with Orson Hyde as editor and proprietor.
This early attempt for statehood nearly fifty years before it actually occurred was, for a variety of political reasons, destined for failure. The slavery issue, statehood for California, the territorial status of New Mexico, the western boundary dispute of Texas, the death of President Zachary Taylor as well as other issues all contributed to the failure of the State of Deseret. President Millard Fillmore signed Utah Territory into existence on September 9, 1850 appointing Brigham Young territorial governor eleven days later.