Mormon Land Rights in Utah

“U.S. President Buchanan [in 1858] even weighed in on the land issue in Utah saying, ‘The land you live upon was purchased by the United States and paid for out of their treasury. The proprietary right and title to it is in them, and not in you.’ Church distribution and ‘ownership’ of the land in the territory was alarming, because the Church leadership had no legal proof or right to the large amount of land they claimed. Now that the United States owned the land that would become Utah, anyone could buy the land that Church members were now living on. The 1841 Preemption Act allowed any citizen over 21 to buy 160 acres of land for $1.25 an acre. In order for a citizen to claim land under the Preemption Act, the land needed to be surveyed by federal surveyors and Indian claims to land would need to be settled. Federal land surveyors would need to come to Utah. “