Fighting for the Principle Part III

March 30, 2008

As arrests grew, hundreds of “cohabs” were languishing in various penitentiaries from Detroit Michigan to Salt Lake City.  Most of the leaders then decided to go underground to avoid the posses that were searching for them.  In many cases this meant that Polygamist men and women were shuttled from place to place, sent messages via code and generally kept in hiding.  Some members of the leadership, such as George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith were sent to other countries to avoid the law, Cannon to Mexico, Smith to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii).[1]LDS leaders felt they were secure in their own belief that they were not going against the constitution, no matter what laws and courts said.  These leaders believed they had answered most of the accusations of the anti-polygamists who believed that women were being conned into being plural wives and forced into staying with these husbands.  Moreover they were trying to gain sympathy by allowing the media to play up the imprisonment of their leaders and others following polygamy.  However, just as the Mormons had not listened to the seriousness of the rulings and laws brought against them by their opponents, the other side did not care if the facts did not meet the reality.  The truth was, when the anti-polygamists realized that the women in polygamous relationships were not willing to immediately rat out their husbands or to flee from US marshals it was apparent to some that they were not the innocents that some thought they were. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fighting for the Principle Part II

March 30, 2008

The Reynolds case was seen as a very critical one by both sides.  For the anti-polygamists the case was a chance to attack the base of the Mormon lifestyle.  The prosecution was headed by George Devens, Attorney General of the United States,  who represented the Republican desire to attack the other half of their feared twin relics of barbarism, polygamy, the other being slavery.[1]  Devens leaned heavily on the concept that if Mormon plural marriage was allowed it would also mean that violent religious actions, such as the massacre at Mountain Meadows, would be justifiable under the law.[2]

            The Defense was led by George Biddle, a well known Democrat, sought to defend Reynolds, not on first amendment rights but rather through the use of Dredd Scott case, a ruling which found that states rights had precedence over federal legislation. The argument was that his client was subject to the local laws and not federal ones such as the Morrill Act in matters of marriage.  Using Dredd Scott had one obvious drawback, the case was considered to be bad juris prudence by the late 1870s. So the use of it, especially a ruling about fugitive slaves, would end up being a mistake on the part of the defense.[3] Read the rest of this entry »


Fighting For the Principle Part I

March 30, 2008

In the summer of 1886, Charles Ora Card was in trouble.  Riding the train with the U.S. Marshall headed to prison after being caught in the company of his wife, he was facing some months in the Utah Penitentiary at the very least.  With this in mind he sought the only thing he could, escape.  Card jumped from the train and escaped.  A short while later, ahead of the law he fled to Canada.  What was Card’s great crime?  He had been living with more than one woman as his wife, his polygamy was against the law and he was forced to flee, hide, or serve prison time.[1]In the 1880s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[2] was caught in what it perceived as a death struggle over its belief in the practice of plural marriage, more commonly called polygamy, with anti-polygamists who, in an age of Robber Barons, Nativism and Populism believed that they were reconstructing Mormons Utah to purify the United States of a monopolist, morally corrupt, and alien force.   How both sides understood the argument and reacted to the other side is the focus of this paper. Read the rest of this entry »


Fighting For the Principle: 2nd Draft Intro

March 30, 2008

Hello again, for those of you waiting for the end of Terror and Faith you will have to wait a few days as I am busy doing some other things so (probably be Thursday).  However, for right now I will post the Second draft of my essay due at the end of this month.  I think after talking to a couple of people I will need to do a rework of the essay as I focused to much on the historiography. 

So anyway here it is in three parts.