The Mexican War began in 1846 and ended in 1848 with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexico agreed to cede much of the American southwest to the United States in exchange for $15 million dollars. This territory included the future state of Utah.
As part of the Compromise of 1850, Senator Henry Clay introduced the Utah territorial bill, allowing for the establishment of a territorial government in Utah. The Utah Territory was established by Congress on September 9, 1850.
The Senate passed the Anti-Bigamy Act, aimed at Utah Mormons. This legislation banned multiple marriages and disincorporated the Mormon Church’s structure. It was laxly enforced by the federal government as a result of the Civil War while Mormon control of Utah courts further stalled enforcement of the law in the Utah territory.
The territory of Utah granted women the right to vote. That right was taken away by the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, but in 1895, the right for women to vote and to hold public office was written into the state constitution.
Congress passed the Utah Enabling Act, authorizing the admittance of Utah into the Union, pending compliance with certain congressional mandates, including the banning of polygamy.
Frank Cannon and Arthur Brown presented their credentials, took the oath of office, and were seated in the U.S. Senate. The senators then drew lots to determine class assignment. Cannon drew Class 1, with a term to expire March 3, 1899. Brown drew Class 3, with a term to expire March 3, 1897.
Frank Cannon lost his campaign for reelection. Utah had only one senator for the next two years as the legislature failed to elect a new senator.
Reed Smoot, a Republican from Provo and a leader in the Mormon Church, replaced Joseph Rawlins in the Senate. As soon as he arrived in Washington he faced his first controversy. His credentials as a senator were challenged on the grounds that his religious beliefs made it impossible for him to faithfully execute his position as senator. The Senate decided to seat him but launched an investigation into the matter.
Former senator Arthur Brown was murdered by his mistress in an ugly and bizarre incident. Brown was working in Washington, D.C., as a lawyer when he received notice from his alleged mistress that she believed he should marry her because he was the father of her child. The woman implored him to “do the right thing.” He refused to marry her, and in response, she took a train to Washington and shot him. Brown was shot on December 8 and died four days later.
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, cosponsored by Senator Reed Smoot, was signed into law. It was widely considered a disaster. The act raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels, triggering other countries to raise their tariffs, and consequently limiting the market for American goods. It was popularly blamed for prolonging and exacerbating the Great Depression.
Elbert Thomas became chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and Labor (today's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions), serving until 1945.
A statue of Brigham Young was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol as Utah's first contribution to the National Statuary Hall Collection. Brigham Young was a famous leader in the Church of Latter Day Saints, served as the founder of Salt Lake City, and was the first governor of the Utah territory.
The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, championed by Ted Moss, was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. The law required tougher labels on cigarette packages and banned cigarette advertisements on radio and television.
Ted Moss became chairman of the Senate Committee on Aeronautics and Space Science (now the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation), serving until 1977.
Republicans elected Jake Garn as their Conference secretary, a position he held until 1985. Orrin Hatch of Salt Lake City lost the race for the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee to John Heinz of Pennsylvania by a vote of 21 to 20.
Jake Garn became chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, serving until 1987. Orrin Hatch became chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources (today's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions), serving until 1987.