Crisis in Zion: Heber J. Grant and the Panic of 1893

In late June 1893, Heber J. Grant, a pencil-thin, bewhiskered young man, waited nervously in the downtown office of New York businessman John Claflin. Thirty-six years old and conservatively dressed, Grant was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and president or director of at least a dozen Salt Lake City—based businesses. A financial panic had struck the nation and the Mormon businessman was urgently seeking a loan to save himself and his church from bankruptcy. Although similar dramas were being enacted in business and banking houses across the United States during that summer, this episode had special significance for the West. Grant’s loan efforts marked the entry of Mormondom and Utah into the nation’s financial mainstream. During the panic, the Mormon community in Utah discovered that the premises of economic independence and isolation upon which it had been founded fifty years earlier were now untenable. By the time the crisis had run its course, Latter-day Saints would change their church’s public image as well as their own attitude toward the outside financial world.

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