The United Order Movement was a program of economic and moral reform begun in 1874 under Brigham Young. It drew upon earlier efforts of the Latter-day Saints to organize cooperatives in Ohio and Missouri and though of little discernible impact in the 1870s, provided the ideological underpinnings for subsequent church poor relief, especially the Welfare Plan, organized in 1936. The return to a more communal economy is still widely regarded among Latter-day Saints as an essential step in preparing for Christ's return and the principles of the United Order are central to present-day church governance.
The United Order was in large measure a response to specific problems that Young faced as leader of the Latter-day Saints in the early 1870s. The Utah economy had grown up in the 1840s, to the 1860s along essentially individualistic, capitalist lines: but tempered by strong elements of central control and communal idealism. Young and other church leaders, most notably his counselor in the First Presidency of the church, George A. Smith, and Apostle Orson Pratt, were concerned that changes attending completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 were pushing the Latter-day Saints away from their communal ideals and towards a more individualistic and capitalistic economic model. This concern led them to cast about for means of countering the materialism and selfishness that they saw as endemic to such a system. Young also feared the railroad would bring an increasing dependence of Utah upon outside products, diminishing the control of the Latter-day Saints over the region.