Utah Stories from the Beehive Archive

John Christopher Cutler


Dublin Core


John Christopher Cutler


Learn about the political career and mysterious suicide of Utah's second governor, John Christopher Cutler. 

In 1846, John Christopher Cutler was born in Sheffield, England to a merchant family. After converting to Mormonism, the Cutlers picked up and immigrated to Utah where John married Sarah Elizabeth Taylor and became a successful businessman.

Cutler seemed destined for greater things than business, however. Entering the rough and tumble world of Utah politics on the ground floor, the English immigrant got himself elected to the post of Salt Lake County Clerk. Next he set his sights on the governor's office, which in 1904 was dominated by Heber M. Wells. Wells, a Republican and the new state's very first governor, had quickly made enemies in his own party, including some of its leaders. One group of Republicans, called the "Federal Bunch" due to the government jobs they were able to secure, was dead set against Wells winning a second term. Led by Senator Reed Smoot and Edward H. Callister, the Federal Bunch settled on Cutler as the man to knock the governor out of the running.

In the end, Cutler was successful and became the state's second governor, defeating not only Wells in the Republican primary, but the Democratic and American party candidates in the general election. As governor he signed into law bills that established juvenile courts in some of the state's larger cities and a birth and death registry administered by the state board of health. These and other measures, however, were not enough to win him a second term to the state's highest office. He went back to business, but poor health soon caught up with him causing him to take his own life in 1928 at the age of 82.


Brandon Johnson for Utah Humanities © 2007


Image: John Christopher Cutler. John Christopher Cutler (1846-1928) was a businessman who served as governor of Utah from 1905-1909. Courtesy of J. Willard Marriott Library.  

See Miriam B. Murphy’s entry on Cutler in the online Utah History Encyclopedia, as well as the entries on Cutler on the Utah History Research Center’s website and the Utah History to Go website.


The Beehive Archive is a production of Utah Humanities. Find sources and the whole collection of past episodes at www.utahhumanities.org