R. N. Baskin

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Robert Newton Baskin (December 20, 1837, in Hillsboro, Ohio – August 25, 1918) was an American politician and lawyer in the state of Utah. He attended Salem Academy, near Chillicothe, Ohio and studied law with the firm of James H. Thompson in Salem, Ohio. En route for California, Baskin visited the Little Cottonwood mining district with Thomas Hearst and saw possibilities in the minerals of Utah Territory and decided to stay.

Baskin became friends with a Dr. Robinson in Salt Lake City who was assassinated on October 22, 1866. Dr. Robinson was building the first public hospital in Salt Lake City when the police tore it down and warned him not to "renew his operations there."[1] Brigham Young later said about Dr. Robinson's hospital: "The band of men had done wrong; that instead of going by night to destroy the building, they should have gone through it in broad day."[2] Dr. Robinson contacted Baskin in contemplation of bringing a suit to recover damages for the destruction of his property. A few weeks after the suit was instituted Dr. Robinson was called from his bed at midnight by some unknown person who said that a friend of Dr. Robinson was injured.[3] Ignoring the advice from his wife he went with the person, but at the corner of Third South and Main in downtown Salt Lake he was beaten to death. Standing over the mutilated body of his friend, Baskin resolved that he would do all in his power to increase federal authority in Utah, as a prominent Harvard trained, Protestant attorney in Utah. According to an article appearing in the Deseret News on August 26, 1918, "he did much to develop Utah mines, prosecuted John D. Lee, wrote his Reminiscences, exposed Mormon Apostle Orson F. Whitney, and was active in politics, especially against polygamy. He drew and procured the Cullom Bill, was mayor of Salt Lake City elected under the Utah Liberal Party in 1892, and was associate justice of the Supreme Court of Utah (sworn in January 3, 1899). Baskin died August 25, 1918.

Many considered him a "radical"[citation needed] and the Deseret News "found it necessary to oppose his operations and criticize his methods with all the force it could command."[citation needed] However, the paper "found itself able to conscientiously to support him for high public office, and to commend his official acts and policies, especially as mayor of Salt Lake City."[citation needed] In his reply he says, "I assure the Mormon people I am not their enemy, but their friend...I openly, and above board honestly and untiringly strove to Americanize theocratic Utah...Though not a prophet, I have been profitable to the Mormon people."[citation needed]


  1. ^ R. N. Baskin, Reminiscences Of Early Utah, p. 13
  2. ^ New York Evening Post November 7, 1867
  3. ^ Baskin, p. 14
  • Maxwell, John Gary. Robert Newton Baskin and the Making of Modern Utah (University of Oklahoma Press; 2013) 408 pages; scholarly biography
  • Van Wagoner, Richard S.; Mormon Polygamy: A History; Signature Books; ISBN 0-941214-79-6 (Paperback, 2nd edition, 1992)
  • Baskin, Robert N. Reminiscences of Early Utah: with " Reply to Certain Statements by O. F. Whitney; Signature Books: Salt Lake City; ISBN 1-56085-193-7; (paperback)

Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
George Montgomery Scott
Mayor of Salt Lake City
Succeeded by
James Glendinning