Heber J. Grant reflected, both consciously and unconsciously, a Mormon agrarian background and ideology. His moral fervor and idealism was in the tradition of his father, Jedediah Morgan Grant, the leading figure of the 1856 "Mormon Reformation." Grant's belief in self-sufficiency, thrift, solvency, and laissez faire government reflected the frontier environment and his business training; however, the dominant force of his life was the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, especially after he was appointed an Apostle and later President of that organization. His outstanding traits were his straight-forward outspokenness and his persistence which largely explain his political behavior.
The years 1882 to 1901 were Grant's most active political years with the exception of the prohibition movement which came at a later date. Although he held only two political offices--a term in the Utah Territorial Legislature and two terms as a Salt Lake City Councilman--he figured conspicuously in public affairs. In 1895 he had the opportunity, which he did not accept, of running in the first statehood election as Democratic candidate for governor of Utah. The Republican candidate for that position believed Grant would have won had he chosen to make himself available. However, Grant chose to devote himself to his Church. He later turned down two nominations for United States Senator.
The prohibition movement in Utah from 1908 to 1917 witnessed Grant's active participation and represented his major excursion into political affairs. He stood for total abstinence as opposed to the local option laws and the unrestricted sale of liquor. Grant figured prominently in initiating the movement, remained interested in the movement during its nine year span--although with varying degree of activity--and again was conspicuous in the triumphant conclusion for prohibitionists. During these years he held several state posts in various temperance organizations; and the fact he held a prominent position in the Mormon Church made his prohibition stand an asset to the movement, although his position also kept him from being as active as he would have liked to have been. Because he was the most outspoken of the General Authorities, many times his opinions clashed with those of fellow Apostle, Senator Reed Smooth, a local optionist.
After Grant became President of the Church in November, 1918, the once strained relationship between him and Reed Smoot was replaced by one of co-operation as Grant became converted to Smoot's importance to the Church and to Utah; and Grant often voiced his support.
The New Deal met hostility from Grant because of the repeal of prohibition, the liberal legislation enacted, and the careless and overly generous public relief measures which he saw as sapping the pioneer initiative from the Mormons. At this time Grant introduced the Church Welfare Program.
President Grant's political ideas were dominated by their moral overtones. Also reflected was the Mormon pioneer tradition of self-sufficiency. Grant's idea of "Church influence" was different from the views generally held, and he pictured himself a figure of forebearance. The restraint he did show was probably due in large measure to negative public reaction.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Aydelotte, Loman Franklin, "The Political Thought and Activity of Heber J. Grant, Seventh President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" (1965). Theses and Dissertations. 4492.
Heber Jeddy Grant, 1856-1945, Political and social views, Political activity, Utah, Politics and government, 19th century