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    Mormonism.ca - Story Of

In Utah

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Even More On The History Of Mormonism
Even More On The Religious Puzzle
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
History Of Mormonism
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Introductory Remarks
Last Days At Kirtland
More On Mormonism Social Puzzle
More On The History Of Mormonism
More On The Religious Puzzle
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Mormonism The Political Puzzle
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Notes On The History Of Mormonism
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Political Puzzle
The Political Puzzle Continued
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Religious Puzzle
The Religious Puzzle Notes
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Social And Society Puzzle
The Social Puzzle
The Social Puzzle Notes
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts


The Story Of The Mormons

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Brigham Young
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Last Days At Kirtland
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts



Social Aspects Of Polygamy








There was something compulsory about all phases of life in Utah
during Brigham Young's regime--the form of employment for the
men, the domestic regulations of the women, the church duties
each should perform, and even the location in the territory
which they should call their home. Not only did large numbers of
the foreign immigrants find themselves in debt to the church on
their arrival, and become compelled in this way to labor on the
"public works" as they might be ordered, but the skilled
mechanics who brought their tools with them in most cases found
on their arrival that existence in Utah meant a contest with the
soil for food. Even when a mechanic obtained employment at his
trade it was in the ruder branches.

Mormon authorities have always tried to show that Americans have
predominated in their community. Tullidge classes the population
in this order: Americans, English, Scandinavian (these claim
one-fifth of the Mormon population of Utah), Scotch, Welsh,
Germans, and a few Irish, French, Italians, and Swiss. The
combination of new-comers and the emigrants from Nauvoo made a
rude society of fanatics,* before whom there was held out enough
prospect of gain in land values (scarcely one of the immigrants
had ever been a landowner) to overcome a good deal of the
discontent natural to their mode of life, and who, in religious
matters, were held in control by a priesthood, against whom they
could not rebel without endangering that hope of heaven which
had induced them to journey across the ocean. There are
roughness and lawlessness in all frontier settlements, but this
Mormon community differed from all other gatherings of new
population in the American West. It did not migrate of its own
accord, attracted by a fertile soil or precious ores; it was
induced to migrate, not without misrepresentation concerning
material prospects, it is true, but mainly because of the hope
that by doing so it would share in the blessings and protection
of a Zion. The gambling hell and the dance hall, which form
principal features of frontier mining settlements, were wanting
in Salt Lake City, and the absence of the brothel was pointed to
as evidence of the moral effect of polygamy.

* "I have discovered thus early (1852) that little deference is
paid to women. Repeatedly, in my long walk to our boarding
house, I was obliged to retreat back from the [street] crossing
places and stand on one side for men to cross over. There are
said to be a great many of the lower order of English here, and
this rudeness, so unusual with our countrymen, may proceed from
them."-- Mrs. Ferris. "Life among the Mormons."


The system of plural marriages left its impress all over the home
life of the territory. Many of the Mormon leaders, as we have
seen, had more wives than one when they made their first trip
across the plains, and the practice of polygamy, while denied on
occasion, was not concealed from the time the settlement was
made in the valley to the date of its public proclamation. In the
early days, a man with more than one wife provided for them
according to his means. Young began with quarters better than
the average, but modest in their way, and finally occupied the
big buildings which cost him many thousands of dollars. If a man
with several wives had the means to do so, he would build a long,
low dwelling, with an outside door for each wife, and thus house
all under the same roof in a sort of separate barracks. When
Gunnison wrote, in 1852, there were many instances in which more
than one wife shared the same house when it contained only one
apartment, but he said: "It is usual to board out the extra
ones, who most frequently pay their own way by sewing, and other
female employments." Mrs. Ferris wrote: "The mass of the
dwellings are small, low, and hutlike. Some of them literally
swarmed with women and children, and had an aspect of extreme
want of neatness . . . . One family, in which there were two
wives, was living in a small hut--three children very sick [with
scarlet fever]--two beds and a cook-stove in the same room,
creating the air of a pest-house."*

* "Life among the Mormons," pp. 111, 145.


Hyde, describing the city in 1857, thus enumerated the home
accommodations of some of the leaders:--"A very pretty house on
the east side was occupied by the late J. M. Grant and his five
wives. A large barrack-like house on the corner is tenanted by
Ezra T. Benson and his four ladies. A large but mean-looking
house to the west was inhabited by the late Parley P. Pratt and
his nine wives. In that long, dirty row of single rooms, half
hidden by a very beautiful orchard and garden, lived Dr. Richard
and his eleven wives. Wilford Woodruff and five wives reside in
another large house still further west. O. Pratt and some four or
five wives occupy an adjacent building. Looking toward the
north, we espy a whole block covered with houses, barns,
gardens, and orchards. In these dwell H. C. Kimball and his
eighteen or twenty wives, their families and dependents."*

* "Mormonism," p. 34. The number of wives of the church leaders
decreased in later years. Beadle, giving the number of wives
"supposed to appertain to each" in 1882, credits President
Taylor with four (three having died), and the Apostles with an
average of three each, Erastus Snow having five, and four others
only two each.


Horace Greeley, prejudiced as he was in favor of the Mormons when
he visited Salt Lake City in 1859, was forced to observe:--"The
degradation (or, if you please, the restriction) of woman to the
single office of childbearing and its accessories is an
inevitable consequence of the system here paramount. I have not
observed a sign in the streets, an advertisement in the
journals, of this Mormon metropolis, whereby a woman proposes to
do anything whatever. No Mormon has ever cited to me his wife's
or any woman's opinion on any subject; no Mormon woman has been
introduced or spoken to me; and, though I have been asked to
visit Mormons in their houses, no one has spoken of his wife (or
wives) desiring to see me, or his desiring me to make her (or
their) acquaintance, or voluntarily indicated the existence of
such a being or beings."*

* "Overland journey," p. 217.


Woman's natural jealousy, and the suffering that a loving wife
would endure when called upon to share her husband's affection
and her home with other women, would seem to form a sort of
natural check to polygamous marriages. But in Utah this check
was overcome both by the absolute power of the priesthood over
their flock, and by the adroit device of making polygamy not
merely permissive, but essential to eternal salvation. That the
many wives of even so exalted a prophet as Brigham Young could
become rebellious is shown by the language employed by him in
his discourse of September 21, 1856, of which the following will
suffice as a specimen:--"Men will say, 'My wife, though a most
excellent woman, has not seen a happy day since I took my second
wife; no, not a happy day for a year.' . . . I wish my women to
understand that what I am going to say is for them, as well as
all others, and I want those who are here to tell their sisters,
yes, all the women in this community, and then write it back to
the states, and do as you please with it. I am going to give you
from this time till the 6th day of October next for reflection,
that you may determine whether you wish to stay with your
husbands or not, and then I am going to set every woman at
liberty, and say to them, 'Now go your way, my women with the
rest; go your way.' And my wives have got to do one of two
things; either round up their shoulders to endure the
afflictions of this world, and live their religion, or they may
leave, for I will not have them about me. I will go into heaven
alone, rather than have scratching and fighting all around me. I
will set all at liberty. What, first wife too?' Yes,I will
liberate you all. I know what my women will say; they will say,
'You can have as many women as you please, Brigham.' But I want
to go somewhere and do something to get rid of the whiners . . .
. Sisters, I am not joking."*

* Journal of Discourses, Vol. IV, p. 55.


Grant, on the same day, in connection with his presentation of
the doctrine of blood atonement, declared that there was
"scarcely a mother in Israel" who would not, if they could,
"break asunder the cable of the Church in Christ; and they talk
it to their husbands, to their daughters, and to their neighbors,
and say that they have not seen a week's happiness since they
became acquainted with that law, or since their husbands took a
second wife."* The coarse and plain-spoken H. C. Kimball, in a
discourse in the Tabernacle, November 9, 1856, thus defined the
duty of polygamous wives, "It is the duty of a woman to be
obedient to her husband, and, unless she is, I would not give a
damn for all her queenly right or authority, nor for her either,
if she will quarrel and lie about the work of God and the
principles of plurality."**

* Ibid, P. 52.

** Deseret News, Vol. VI, p. 291.


Gentile observers were amazed, in the earlier days of Utah, to
see to what lengths the fanatical teachings of the church
officers would be accepted by women. Thus Mrs. Ferris found that
the explanation of the willingness of many young women in Utah
to be married to venerable church officers, who already had
harems, was their belief that they could only be "saved" if
married or sealed to a faithful Saint, and that an older man was
less likely to apostatize, and so carry his wives to perdition
with him, than a young one; therefore "it became an object with
these silly fools to get into the harems of the priests and
elders."

If this advantage of the church officers in the selection of new
wives did not avail, other means were employed,*as in the
notorious San Pete case. The officers remaining at home did not
hesitate to insist on a fair division of the spoils (that is,
the marriageable immigrants), as is shown by the following
remarks of Heber C. Kimball to some missionaries about starting
out: "Let truth and righteousness be your motto, and don't go
into the world for anything but to preach the Gospel, build up
the Kingdom of God, and gather the sheep into the fold. You are
sent out as shepherds to gather the sheep together; and remember
that they are not your sheep; they belong to Him that sends you.
Then don't make a choice of any of those sheep; don't make
selections before they are brought home and put into the fold.
You understand that. Amen." Mr. Ferris thus described the use of
his priestly power made by Wilford Woodruff, who, as head of the
church in later years, gave out the advice about abandoning
polygamy: "Woodruff has a regular system of changing his harem.
He takes in one or more young girls, and so manages, after he
tires of them, that they are glad to ask for a divorce, after
which he beats the bush for recruits. He took a fresh one, about
fourteen years old, in March, 1853, and will probably get rid of
her in the course of the ensuing summer." **

* Conan Doyle's story, "A Study in scarlet," is founded on the
use of this power.

** "Utah and the Mormons," p. 255.


Mrs. Waite thus relates a conversation she had with a Mormon wife
about her husband going into polygamy:--"'Oh, it is hard,' she
said, 'very hard; but no matter, we must bear it. It is a
correct principle, and there is no salvation without it. We had
one [wife] but it was so hard, both for my husband and myself,
that we could not endure it, and she left us at the end of seven
months. She had been with us as a servant several months, and
was a good girl; but as soon as she was made a wife she became
insolent, and told me she had as good a right to the house and
things as I had, and you know that didn't suit me well. But,'
continued she, 'I wish we had kept her, and I had borne
everything, for we have GOT TO HAVE ONE, and don't you think it
would be pleasanter to have one you had known than a stranger?'"*

* "The Mormon Prophet," p. 260. Many accounts of the feeling
of first wives regarding polygamy may be found in this book and
in Mrs. Stenhouse's "Tell it All."


The voice which the first wife had in the matter was defined in
the Seer (Vol. I, p. 41). If she objected, she could state her
objection to President Young, who, if he found the reason
sufficient, could forbid the marriage; but if he considered that
her reason was not good, then the marriage could take place, and
"he [the husband] will be justified, and she will be condemned,
because she did not give them unto him as Sarah gave Hagar to
Abraham, and as Rachel and Leah gave Bilhah and Zilpah to their
husband, Jacob." Young's dictatorship in the choice of wives
was equally absolute. "No man in Utah," said the Seer (Vol. I,
p. 31), "who already has a wife, and who may desire to obtain
another, has any right to make any proposition of marriage to a
lady until he has consulted the President of the whole church,
and through him obtained a revelation from God as to whether it
would be pleasing in His sight."

The authority of the priesthood was always exerted to compel at
least every prominent member of the church to take more wives
than one. "For a man to be confined to one woman is a small
business," said Kimball in the Tabernacle, on April 4, 1857.
This influence coerced Stenhouse to take as his second wife a
fourteen-year-old daughter of Parley P. Pratt, although he loved
his legal wife, and she had told him that she would not live
with him if he married again, and although his intimate friend,
Superintendent Cooke, of the Overland Stage Company, to save
him, threatened to prosecute him under the law against bigamy if
he yielded.* Another illustration, given by Mrs. Waite, may be
cited. Kimball, calling on a Prussian immigrant named Taussig
one day, asked him how he was doing and how many wives he had,
and on being told that he had two, replied, "That is not enough.
You must take a couple more. I'll send them to you." The
narrative continues:--

* When Mr. and Mrs. Stenhouse left the church at the time of the
"New Movement" their daughter, who was a polygamous wife of
Brigham Young's son, decided with the church and refused even to
speak with her parents.


"On the following evening, when the brother returned home, he
found two women sitting there. His first wife said, 'Brother
Taussig' (all the women call their husbands brother), 'these are
the Sisters Pratt.' They were two widows of Parley P. Pratt. One
of the ladies, Sarah, then said, 'Brother Taussig, Brother
Kimball told us to call on you, and you know what for.' 'Yes,
ladies,' replied Brother Taussig, 'but it is a very hard task
for me to marry two' The other remarked, 'Brother Kimball told
us you were doing a very good business and could support more
women.' Sarah then took up the conversation, 'Well, Brother
Taussig, I want to get married anyhow.' The good brother
replied, 'Well, ladies, I will see what I can do and let you
know."*

* "The Mormon Prophet," p. 258.


Brother Taussig compromised the matter with the Bishop of his
ward by marrying Sarah, but she did not like her new home, and
he was allowed to divorce her on payment of $10 to Brigham
Young!

Each polygamous family was, of course, governed in accordance
with the character of its head: a kind man would treat all his
wives kindly, however decided a preference he might show for
one; and under a brute all would be unhappy. Young, in his
earlier days at Salt Lake City, used to assemble all his family
for prayers, and have a kind word for each of the women, and all
ate at a common table after his permanent residences were built.
"Brigham's wives," says Hyde, "although poorly clothed and hard
worked, are still very infatuated with their system, very devout
in their religion, very devoted to their children. They content
themselves with his kindness as they cannot obtain his love."* He
kept no servants, the wives performing all the household work,
and one of them acting as teacher to her own and the others'
children. As the excuse for marriage with the Mormons is
childbearing, the older wives were practically discarded, taking
the place of examples of piety and of spiritual advisers.

* "Mormonism," p. 164.

** How far this doctrine was not observed may be noted in the
following remarks of H. C. Kimball in the Tabernacle, on
February 1, 1857: "They [his wives] have got to live their
religion, serve their God, and do right as well as myself.
Suppose that I lose the whole of them before I go into the
spiritual world, but that I have been a good, faithful man all
the days of my life, and lived my religion, and had favor with
God, and was kind to them, do you think I will be destitute
there? No. The Lord says there are more there than there are
here. They have been increasing there; they increase there a
great deal faster than they do here, because there is no
obstruction. They do not call upon the doctors to kill their
offspring. In this world very many of the doctors are studying to
diminish the human race. In the spiritual world . . . we will go
to Brother Joseph . . . and he will say to us, 'Come along, my
boys, we will give you a good suit of clothes. Where are your
wives?' 'They are back yonder; they would not follow us.' 'Never
mind,' says Joseph, 'here are thousands; have all you
want.'"--Journal of Discourses, Vol. IV, p. 209.


A summing up of the many-sided evils of polygamy was thus
presented by President Cleveland in his first annual message:--
"The strength, the perpetuity, and the destiny of the nation
rests upon our homes, established by the law of God, guarded by
parental care, regulated by parental authority, and sanctified
by parental love. These are not the homes of polygamy.

"The mothers of our land, who rule the nation as they mould the
characters and guide the actions of their sons, live according
to God's holy ordinances, and each, secure and happy in the
exclusive love of the father of her children, sheds the warm
light of true womanhood, unperverted and unpolluted, upon all
within her pure and wholesome family circle. These are not the
cheerless, crushed, and unwomanly mothers of polygamy.

"The fathers of our families are the best citizens of the
Republic. Wife and children are the sources of patriotism, and
conjugal and parental affection beget devotion to the country.
The man who, undefiled with plural marriage, is surrounded in
his single home with his wife and children, has a status in the
country which inspires him with respect for its laws and courage
for its defence. These are not the fathers of polygamous
families."





Next: The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood

Previous: Brigham Young's Death - His Character



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