Mormon Polygamy Facts That Cause Some LDS Folk to Struggle

Supporting Facts Derived 100% from Church-Friendly Sources

Polygamous Family

The basic facts are as follows:

  • 1831 — Joseph Smith receives plural marriage revelation, though it remains unrecorded. 
  • Between 1833 – 1835 — Joseph marries Fanny Alger
  • 1835 — In the 1835 version of the D&C, Section 101:4 , it declares, “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband.” 
  • 1838 — Oliver Cowdery is excommunicated, at least in part, for accusing Joseph Smith of adultery with Fanny Alger. 
  • 1841 — Joseph begins taking plural wives in earnest
  • 1842 — Joseph attempts to take Sidney Rigdon’s daughter to wife, and she refuses. Though a member of the 1st Presidency, Rigdon never accepted the teaching of plural marriage. 
  • 1842 — Church-owned Times and Seasons denies the practice of polygamy, declaring: “We declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” 
  • 1844 — By the end of his life, Joseph had married between 30 and 50 women.
  • 1844 — In the History of the Church Vol. 6, Joseph Smith denies practicing polygamy. “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” 
  • June 7, 1844 — William Law, 2nd counselor in the 1st presidency, leaves the church over polygamy and Joseph’s denial of it. Soon thereafter, he publishes the 1st and only edition of the Nauvoo Expositor, which claims 1st-hand testimony from several sources that Joseph was practicing polygamy, counter to his public denials. 
  • June 11, 1844 — Joseph orders the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor printing press
  • June 25, 1844 — Joseph’s ordered destruction of the printing press catalyzed events that ultimately resulted in his being jailed for Treason. 
  • June 27, 1844 — Joseph and Hyrum martyred
  • 1845 — Times and Seasons again denies the practice of polygamy
  • 1851 — Brigham Young acknowledges polygamy in a meeting of the Utah Legislature. Brigham Young declares before the Territorial Legislature, “I have more wives than one. I have many and I am not ashamed to have it known. Some Deny in the States that we have more wives than one. I never Deny it. I am perfectly willing that the people at Washington Should know that I have more than one wife & they are pure before the Lord and are approved of in his sight. I have been commanded of God to persue this Course. . . .”
  • 1852 — The church (perhaps for the first time?) publicly acknowledges the practice of polygamy
  • 1852 – 1890 — The U.S. Federal Government heavily pressures LDS Church to cease polygamy 
  • 1866 — Brigham Young declares that, ” The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessing offered unto them, and they refused to accept them.” 
  • 1890 — Wilford Woodruff announces revelation ending the practice of polygamy
  • 1890 – 1904 — Polygamous marriages continue. A few examples of polygamous marriages made post-manifesto found on LDS church owned FamilySearch.org include: Amelia Carling to James Duffin , Hannah Grover to Victor Hegsted , Margaret Cutis to B.H. Roberts, etc. There are many, many others. 
  • 1904 — LDS Church releases a “Second Manifesto“, after charges were confirmed that polygamous marriages continued despite the 1890 revelation/announcement. This article reads:
    • “During the Senate investigation in 1904 concerning the seating of Senator-elect Reed Smoot, a monogamist but a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Mormon Church President Joseph F. Smith presented what historians have called the “Second Manifesto” on 7 April 1904. It included provisions for the church to take action against those who continued to perform plural marriages and marry plural wives. Matthias Cowley and John W. Taylor, both apostles, continued to be involved in performing or advocating new plural marriages after 1904, and, as a result, Cowley was disfellowshipped and Taylor excommunicated from the church. In 1909 a committee of apostles met to investigate post-Manifesto polygamy, and by 1910 the church had a new policy. Those involved in plural marriages after 1904 were excommunicated; and those married between 1890 and 1904 were not to have church callings where other members would have to sustain them. Although the Mormon Church officially prohibited new plural marriages after 1904, many plural husbands and wives continued to cohabit until their deaths in the 1940s and 1950s.”
  • 1998 — During an interview with Larry King on CNN, when asked about polygamy, President Hinckley stated:
    • “I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law.”
  • 2007 — The doctrine of Plural marriage remains on the books, as LDS scripture, in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132.
    •   61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. 
    •   62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. 


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