Linda Bonilla writes:
“Thank you Michael, for the well-written column about Sam Brannan and the ship he sailed to California. This story, part of my Church’s history, is often forgotten.
“There is another possible reason Brigham Young decided to settle the Saints in arid Utah, rather than the greener pastures of California. He said, around this time, “The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and still remain true. My greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth (and yet they will someday have to be tried with riches)”.
“Given the development of San Francisco and other parts of California during gold rush days, you can see that life here probably wouldn’t have been compatible with the growth of a more spiritual, sober people.”
Historians disagree why Young picked Salt Lake in part because Young himself gave conflicting accounts. I, too, saw statements by him that he picked Salt Lake because its austere nature offered fewer worldly temptations – a remarkably spiritual reasoning. But I also saw a speech Young gave in later life saying had it not been for the Bear Flag Revolt, the exodus may have proceeded to California — making San Joaquin the world center of the Mormon Church.