History of Polygamy, Utah

Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)

When establishing the LDS Church, Joseph Smith recorded numerous revelations he claimed to receive, often in answer to questions about the Bible, which are now included in the Doctrine and Covenants, part of the LDS canon. In answer to his question as to why many of the Old Testament leaders had more than one wife, Smith received what is now known as Section 132. Although the revelation was not recorded until 1843, Smith may have received it in the 1830s and married his first plural wife, Fanny Alger, in 1835. Polygamy was not openly practiced in the Mormon Church until 1852 when Orson Pratt, an apostle, made a public speech defending it as a tenet of the church. From 1852 until 1890, Mormon Church leaders preached and encouraged members, especially those in leadership positions, to marry additional wives.

A majority of the Latter-day Saints never lived the principle. The number of families involved varied by community; for example, 30 percent in St. George in 1870 and 40 percent in 1880 practiced polygamy, while only 5 percent in South Weber practiced the principle in 1880. Rather than the harems often suggested in non-Mormon sources, most Mormon husbands married only two wives. The wives usually lived in separate homes and had direct responsibility for their children. Where the wives lived near each other, the husbands usually visited each wife on a daily or weekly basis. While there were the expected troubles between wives and families, polygamy was usually not the only cause, although it certainly could cause greater tension. Since polygamy was openly practiced for only a short time by Mormons, there were no established rules about how family members should relate to each other. Instead, each family adapted to their particular circumstances.

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