Saturday, June 12, 2010

Laws Against Polygamy - 1882 (Edmunds Act)

Other posts in this series:

History and Background to this Bill:

Mormon people passionately believed that passage of the 1862 Morrill anti-bigamy act was unconstitutional, and that God would set it right punishing the nation that enacted it.  They were following God's commandments, and He would protect them from all evil for so doing.  Because of this belief, and their faith in God, they began to live in defiance of the law and hide the law-breaking of it; a tradition that would carry on until the present day with some break-away Mormon fundamentatlist groups.

These people believe the law to be an infringement by the government on their constitutional right to freely practice religion.  Marriage, they claim, is an institution declared by God, and is therefore a religious observance and rite.  It necessarily follows that government has no business to regulate or legislate the religious practice of marriage.  The LDS leaders and people were counting on the fact that the court system would agree with them and strike down this law based upon its unconstitutional attempt to legislate a religious practice - even if they had to appeal this decision all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.  In the end, God would "make bare His arm" (scripture references:  I Nephi 22:11; D&C 133:3) and clear the path for those of His children attempting to live His revealed religion, and the interpretation of the First Amendment, would be the safety line for the Saints of God :
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." (Bill of Rights:  First Amendement of the U.S. Constitution).
The Constitution of the United States was an inspired document (D&C 101:77, 80); therefore, the Lord would not destroy it, but fix the laws that corrupted it - the Saints hoped the Supreme Court would be inspired to right this wrong.

In the end, this belief would not prove to save the Saints.  The courts would not overturn the law of 1862, but would rather uphold it - religious outward practice is liable to be legislated for/against, and the law is therefore constitutional.  It is a man's religious belief that was protected with the law.

Currently [1862+], the government of the United States could do nothing in the short term to address this issue of defiance.  Prosecution of this law proved extremely difficult.  Obtaining proof that an actual wedding ceremony occurred was almost impossible given that the ceremonies took place secretly (and were not publicly recorded), the parties themselves would never admit the offense, and the community at large protected and shielded the couple and the practice of this religious ceremony.  Congress was urged to do more to stop this situation, and accordingly several pieces of legislation were introduced as an attempt to resolve what became known as the "Mormon Problem" or "Mormon Question." 

As an aside, due to the increasing hostility between the Federal Government and the Utah Mormons, several full-time lobbyists were employed by the Church in Washington so as to present their case to the leaders of this nation.  With all of the legislation on this list, it would seem an appropriate counter-measure tactic by the Church.

 The following is a very brief overview of some legislation and other events in between the passage of the Morrill Law in 1862, and the passage of the Edmunds Law in 1882.

1866 - Wade bill
The purpose of this bill appeared to be the destruction of local self-government in Utah.  The militia would be put under control of the Governor, with all officers of the Territory to be chosen by him, including members of both grand and petit juries and probate judges in all counties.  Additionally, Mormon religious officers would not be allowed to solemnize marriages, and the church trustee-in-trust  would be required to report once a year for an accounting of "all church properties, moneys in bank notes, deposits with the church, etc."

The bill died on the Senate calendar.

1867 - Utah Territorial legislature
The territorial legislature asks Congress to repeal the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862.  Instead of repealing it, the House Judiciary Committee wants to know why it is not being enforced.  Oops, that kind of backfired.

1867 / 1869 - Cragin bill (introduced twice)
This was an amendment to the Wade bill in that everything it had, the Cragin bill did as well; with a few other additions that even today seem rather outlandish.  To wit, a trial by jury would be done away with for those accused of violating the 1862 Morrill anti-bigamy act.

The bill never came up for vote; although there were many that did approve of its draconian measures of law enforcement.

1869 - Ashley bill
This bill's objective was for a near total dismemberment of the territory of Utah - blot out Utah almost completely allowing it to be swallowed up into surrounding territories.  However, it was believed that by doing this the Mormons would then politically control the other territories (Nevada, Wyoming, and Colorado), and therefore the bill was abandoned.
"The idea of dividing the territory up among the ajoining territories is not practicable now; under it, the Mormons, instead of being divided and conquered, would divide and conquer; for with their number and discipline, they could out-vote and out-manage three territories."

1869 (May 10) - Transcontinental Railroad completed
Promontory Point, Utah, was the location for the completion of the transcontinental railroad.  The railroad brought people, goods, and a greater degree of civilization (Babylon in the eyes of Mormons) to Utah.  It permanently connected Utah with the outside world.  No longer was the Great Basin hidden and secluded.  It was now a part of the rest of the continental United States, and accessible like the rest.

1870 - Julian bill
Washington had the impression that polygamy in Utah existed only because the women were degraded and had no choice in it.  They postulated that if women could vote in Utah, polygamy would be destroyed because the women would vote it out of existence.  The response to their theories were met with extremely positive reviews in Utah.  After Utah's representative supported the bill, and positive editorials were published in the Deseret News, the ardor of the anti-Mormons was dampened, and the bill never came up for vote.  The fever was caught though, and the Utah territorial legislature passed a measure allowing women to vote in 1870 - a first.

1870 - Cullom bill
The bill is reported (rumored?) to have been written by Robert N. Baskin of Salt Lake City; he was regarded as a very bitter opponent of the Church and would properly be labled, anti-Mormon.  Most of the provisions of the Cragin bill are incorporated in the Cullom bill.  Some of the previous bills on this list also have their origin in Utah with anti-Mormon political activists.

Finding a summary of what was actually in this bill wasn't as easy as I hoped.  No online site that I could find (easily available via Google's search engine), had a listing of the bill's full text.  All I found were comments to the effect of:  "It's bad, and it didn't pass."  All of the books I read had similar summaries.  Well, that's fine and dandy, but not good enough for what I wanted to know.  Now that it was not easy to find, I wanted to see the whole thing - top to bottom, front to back and decide for myself.  So, I found the Congressional Record for 1870 - courtesy of my local university law library.  On February 16, 1870, the bill was introduced (House bill number 1089) by the chairman of the Committee on Territories, Representative Shelby Moore Cullom of Illinois. 

There were a total of 34 sections in the bill.  As I mentioned before, this bill had a lot of similarities to the previoulsly discussed Craigin bill.  I wanted to point out 2 interesting sections from the bill:
Sec. 13.  And be it further enacted, That any man in said Territory who shall after this act goes in effect live or cohabit with one woman or more, other than his lawful wife, as his wife or wives, shall be adjudged guilty of the crime of concubinage, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding $1,000, and by imprisonment in the penitentiary at hard labor not exceeding five years, and in all prosecutions for the violation of this section the alleged concubines of the accused shall be competent witnesses to establish or disprove the charge.
Sec. 32.  And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States is empowered and directed, when in his judgment it shall be necessary to enforce the laws of said Territory, or the convictions and sentences of the courts thereof, to send such a portion of the Army of the United States to said Territory as shall be required therefore, and, in case a sufficient portion of said Army cannot with safety be detached from duty in other portions of the country to accomplish the same the President is empowered and directed further to accept and receive into the military service of the United States volunteers to the number of not exceeding forty thousand, and for such term of service as he may deem proper, not exceeding two years.  And the Secretary of War is directed and required to make such rules and regulations for the movement and transportation of the troops and the enlistment of volunteers as shall be necessary.
Those convicted of polygamy could not vote or hold office.  Before taking office, an oath would be administered that said you never have taken arms against the U.S., and that you are not a polygamist.  Only people appointed by the government could perform marriages (no Mormon Elders), etc.  The rest is a fair summary of previous bills.  It is interesting that plural wives are now called concubines.

Even the Missouri representative, never a friend of the Mormons, complained of the bill's sweeping unfairness:
"The superfluous wives of Young and his followers are declared concubines and their offspring bastards and both women and children are literally turned out of doors and consigned to the cold charities of the world.  The punishment of these comparatively innocent parties is actually more severe than that inflicted upon the more guilty.  The male polygamist may escape scot free by simply giving up his female companions, but in any event [the wives and children] are reduced to pauperism at once, and forced to beg, starve, or do worse."
The New York World recognized that if the Cullom Bill passed, it could mean war:
"If we force them into a hostile attitude, the Mormons can give us a very disagreeable, a very wearisome, and tremendously expensive war.  The government should not forcibly interfere with polygamy or Mormonism at all."
The bill was allowed to die on the Senate calendar after passing the House.

1871 (October) - Brigham Young indicted for adultery
He was under house arrest from January to April of 1872.  The charges were eventually dismissed.

In 1873 and 1874, President Ulysses S. Grant believed the situation in Utah had reached a tipping point.  Where were the convictions for polygamy?  How can Brigham Young and so many other of these Mormon leaders openly defy the law and not be brought to trial and convicted?  What is going on out there?  He was willing to intervene militarily and compel the people of Utah to obey the law unless Congress could pass legislation to control the Mormons.  He talked with Congress about this problem and urged them to act, and act soon.

1873 - Logan bill and Merritt bill
The logan bill was similar to previous bills that had been presented and failed.  It removed the ability of the people of Utah to self-govern.  It did not pass. 

Merritt's bill was very much like the Cullom bill of 1870.  It likewise received the same treatment - filed in the garbage can of congressional history; it also did not pass.

1874 - Brigham spends the night in the penitentiary
Brigham Young was brought to trial, not convicted, fined $25 for contempt of court and ordered to spend one night in prison.  The fallout over this was almost immediate:  Chief Justice McKean, Land Registrar George Maxwell, and the Judge of the trial were replaced.

1874 - Poland law
House bill 3097 was introduced, and shortly thereafter passed.  It passed Congress on June 23, and was signed the next day by President Grant.  This was the first law against the Mormons in Utah since the 1862 bill - it only took 12 additional years to find agreement on this.

This law removed from the probate courts of Utah all criminal, civil, and chancery jurisdiction.  The territorial marshal and attorney general of the territory were abolished and their duties were assigned to the United States marshal and the United States assistant district attorney.  The bill essentially dismantled the judicial system in Utah.  There were many people in both Utah and Washington that did not believe the law was harsh enough to be effective; however, individuals could now be brought to trial for breaking the Morrill law.

Immediately the United States attorney tried to bring leading Church officials to trial, but experienced problems.  Many of the brethren had married before the 1862 law was passed, and could not be tried ex post facto.  Furthermore, the wives could not be required to testify against their husbands, and the marriage records for the temple(s) were not public record.  These frustrations at prosecution of polygamy helped form the backbone of the next bill that would become a law.

1874 - George Reynolds "test case" 
Church leaders, confident in the unconstitutionality of the Morrill law, were anxious to have a "test case" brought before the Supreme Court concerning their First Amendment rights to practice religion.  They did not want to wait around for legislatures to get their polygamy bill right while many of their followers were being harassed.  So, when U.S. attorney, William Carey, promised to stop his attempts to indict Church leaders during the test case trial, the First Presidency (Brigham Young, George A. Smith, Daniel H. Wells) chose 32 year old George Reynolds, a secretary in the office of the Church president, and recently married for a second time to a plural wife, as a defendant (he volunteered) to stand in for the Church.  Reynolds cooperated completely with the prosecution's efforts against him.  He provided witnesses and other evidence necessary to prosecute the case successfully.  Reynolds was convicted in 1875, and sentenced to two years hard labor in prison and a fine of $500 dollars (later changed to 2 years imprisonment only).

The resultant conviction wasn't completely unexpected, but it just meant that appeal would be made to a higher court in the Territory.

1875 - President Ulysses S. Grant visits Utah (October)
After his arrival by train (large tangent:  I can't help but think of Wild Wild West with Jim West and Artemus Gordon protecting President Grant out in the west), he was driven into Salt Lake in an open carriage, and witnessed several thousand Sunday School children lining both sides of East Temple, dressed in white, welcoming him to Utah.  The children impressed him.  He turned to Governor Emery and said:  "Whose children are these?"  "Mormon children," answered the governor.  For several moments the President was silent, and then he murmured, in a tone of self-reproach, "I have been deceived!"  (History of Salt Lake City, pg. 623).

1876 - George Reynolds "test case"
Utah Territorial Supreme Court upholds the lower court ruling.  Appeal is made to the United States Supreme Court for a hearing on First Amendment rights.

1877 August 29 
Brigham Young dies, never knowing if the law of 1862 was overturned, seeing the completion of the Salt Lake Temple, or knowing if the "social experiment" of the Mormons was actually going to succeed in building a Zion people and place.

1878 Joseph F. Smith sermon
This is the type of instruction that Latter-Day Saints of this day received about plural marriage.  I wouldn't call this typical, because many other topics were discussed; however, this wouldn't be atypical either:
     "The marriage of one woman to a man for time and eternity by the sealing power, according to the will of God, is a fulfillment of the celestial law of marriage in part - and is good so far as it goes ... But this is only the beginning of the law, not the whole of it."
     "... it is useless to tell me that there is no blessing attached to obedience to the law, or that a man with only one wife can obtain as great a reward, glory or kingdom as he can with more than one, being equally faithful."
     "I understand the law of celestial marriage to mean that every man in this Church, who has the ability to obey and practice it in righteousness and will not, shall be damned, I say I understand it to mean this and nothing less, and I testify in the name of Jesus that it does mean that"  (Journal of Discourses, Volume 20, page 28-31; July 7, 1878).

1879 (January 6) - Reynolds vs. United States:  98 U.S. 145 
Reynolds' case is appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Short answer:  The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Law of 1862, is constitutional; George Reynolds is guilty.

The Supreme Court went to the writings of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights) to determine the scope of influence for government in legislating religious practice and to find a definition of what religious freedom meant in the mind of the framers.  This case was the first challenge to the interpretation of the First Amendment right of religious freedom - they wanted to be sure.

Thomas Jefferson defined the scope of religious freedom thusly:
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions -- I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.  Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."
Chief Justice Morrison Remick Waite wrote the court opinion (there was one dissenting justice - Justice Field - but only on one point of the case for evidence allowed of Amelia Jane Schofield; point number 4):
Coming as this does [the above Jefferson quote] from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured.  Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.

In our opinion, the statute immediately under consideration is within the legislative power of Congress.  It is constitutional and valid as prescribing a rule of action for all those residing in the Territories, and in places over which the United States have exclusive control.

Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices.

Upon a careful consideration of the whole case, we are satisfied that no error was committed by the court below.

Judgment affirmed
Above quotes are all from the opinion rendered by the United States Supreme Court.  Because there was not a minority dissenting opinion, exception above noted on one of 6 points in the case, this was as close to a unanimous decision as could be expected.  Every member of the court believed that polygamy could be legislated against and could not be used as a religious defense in court.

1879 - George Q. Cannon publicly responds to the Supreme Court decision
"Our crime has been:  We married women instead of seducing them; we reared children instead of destroying them; we desired to exclude from the land prostitution, bastardy and infanticide. If George Reynolds is to be punished, let the world know the facts.  Conceal them not under the thin veil of hypocritical pretense.  Let it be published to the four corners of the earth that in this land of liberty, the most blessed and glorious upon which the sun shines, the law is swiftly invoked to punish religion, but justice goes limping and blindfolded in pursuit of crime."
I'm sure the Church was shocked, as is evidenced by the response from George Q. Cannon.  This judgment was not expected.  It was not supposed to happen this way. 

Reference to the above quote -- which are the final words of a pamphlet written by Cannon:  A Review of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of George Reynolds vs. The People of the United States, pg. 58; published 1879 by Deseret News Printing and Publishing Establishment.

1880 - Revelation to Wilford Woodruff (Jan. 26) - pieces of it quoted below:
     "The nation is ripened in iniquity and the cup of the wrath of mine indignation is full and I will not stay my hand in judgments upon this nation or the nations of the earth.

     "And I say again, woe unto that nation, or house or people who seek to hinder my people from obeying the Patriarchal law of Abraham, which leadeth to Celestial Glory, which has been revealed unto my Saints through the mouth of my servant Joseph, for whosoever doeth these things shall be damned, saith the Lord of Hosts, and shall be broken up and wasted away from under heaven by the judgments which I have sent forth, and which shall not return unto me void.

     "The blood of my servants Joseph and Hyrum and of mine Apostles and Elders which has been shed for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, cries from the ground for vengeance upon the nation which has shed their blood.  But their blood shall speedily be avenged and shall cease to cry unto me, for the hour of God's judgment is fully come and shall be poured out without measure upon the wicked."

--> Reference:  Wilford Woodruff's 1880 Revelation
--> Reference:  LDS Church News (they mention the revelation in passing, but do not quote it). 
"In 1880, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation 'which virtually nailed the flag to the flagpole of plural marriage.'"
Comment:  With revelations like this, it is easy for me to see why the Saints and their leaders would continue to resist the laws of the United States.  They believed that the Lord would fight their cause for them and not allow their religion to be tainted and/or destroyed by the unrighteous gentiles of the same nation that killed the prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum in Carthage, Illinois.

1881 (January) - Church authorities fulfill instruction from 1880 revelation:

The above revelation from 1880, had specific instructions in it on what the Lord wanted these men to do.  On January 19, 1881, they fulfilled these instructions.  The full prayer offered can be found in the Journal of Wilford Woodruff 7:621-625.

Someday I'll have to get better access to the Journals so I can read this.  For now, I can only accept that it was something that I need to read.  Update:  I read the Woodruff journals (the part in book 7 with the prayer - it's at the very end of the book), and was interested to know if a list of names were included; they were not - well, so much for seeing who the Saints believed their enemies were exactly.  Here are a few pieces of it that I found pertinent (all spelling, captialization, etc., is Wilford Woodruff's):
Now our Father who art in heaven we bear testimony unto thee that from the hour that Moroni gave into the hands of thy servant Joseph the sacred Record from the hill Cumorah wicked and ungodly men sought his life and Continued to persecute him up to the hour of his death and finally shed his Blood and martered him with his Brother Hyram in Carthage Jail for the word of God & Testimony of Jesus Christ.  And the wicked of this Nation have Continued to persecute thy servants from time to time, until the present hour.  The wicked of this Nation have driven thy people from town to town from state to State and finally driven them from the Nation into the wilderness, into these Mountains of Israel.

And now our Enemies are not satisfied because we still live and prosper.  Even Our Nation itself is taking a stand against thy Church and Kingdom and has passed laws forbidding us to obey the Law of the Celestial Patriarchal Order of marriage which thou hast Commanded us to obey.  The blood of one of thy servants has been shed.  Others have been imprisoned because they would not deny thy word.
The list of Names are in print & I omit recording them here.

O Lord our God these Classes of Men whether living or dead have made war against Thee and thy kingdom and thine anointed ones.  Some have shed the blood of thy Prophets and Apostles.  Others have Consented unto their death and have persecuted the Saints of God and have driven them from place to Place and finally driven them into these mountains of Israel and barren deserts and many of our Nation their Presidents Governors and judges still seek our destruction and still wish to pass laws to prevent us from Building up thy Kingdom and keeping thy Commandments and from redeeming our dead and performing the work which thous has Commanded us to do and to deprive us of our freedom as men and our rights as Citizens.

Our Father in heaven we Pray unto thee and ask thee in the name of thy son Jesus Christ that thou wilt protect thy Church, thy Kingdom and thy people from the Power of the wicked. O Lord may this Nation not have power to prevent thy Saints from keeping thy Commandments, from building the Temples of our God and redeeming Our dead.

That was a lot of background and history.  There are still important events that I have skipped over - a blog post is only so long.  I may add them later, or create a new post with additional information.

In 1882, Congress put together a bill designed to control, and hopefully limit, the practice of polygamy in Utah.  This bill worked around some of the problems of the 1862 bill and the 1874 bill; namely, it had instructions on enforcement - it finally had teeth.  Also, unlawful cohabitation was defined as "supporting and caring for more than one woman."  After the passage of this bill, unlawful cohabitation would become the main focus of prosecutors in the Utah Territory.

In summary, here are the main points of this law:
  • It is an amendment to the 1862 law, not a new law.
  • Polygamy (marriage to more than one woman) is a felony:  5 years in prison and/or $500 fine.
  • Unlawful cohabitation (living with more than one woman) is a misdemeanor:  6 months in prison and/or $300 fine.
  • Polygamists disqualified from jury service, voting, and public or elective office of any kind.
  • Children of polygamous families legitimized if born before January 1, 1883.

The law is copied below in its entirety.

The Statutes at Large of the United States of America
From December, 1881, to March, 1883
Volume XXII [22] - reference below, pages 30-33

March 22, 1882
Chapter 47 - An act to amend section fifty-three hundred and fifty-two of the Revised Statutes of the United States, in reference to bigamy, and for other purposes.

     Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section fifty-three hundred and fift-two of the Revised Statutes of the United States be, and the same is hereby, amended so as to read as follows, namely:

     Every person who has a husband or wife living who, in a Territory or other place over which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction, hereafter marries another, whether married or single, and any man hereafter simultaneously, or on the same day, marries more than one woman, in a Territory or other place over which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction, is guilty of polygamy, and shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars and by imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; but this section shall not extend to any person by reason of any former marriage whose husband or wife by such marriage shall have been absent for five successive years, and is not known to such person to be living, and is believed by such person to be dead, nor to any person by reason of any former marriage which shall have been dissolved by a valid decree of a competent court, nor to any person by reason of any former marriage which shall have been pronounced void by a valid decree of a competent court, on the ground of nullity of the marriage contract.

     Sec. 2.  That the foregoing provisions shall not affect the prosecution or punishment of any offense already committed against the section amended by the first section of this act.

     Sec. 3.  That if any male person, in a Territory or other place over which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction, hereafter cohabits with more than one woman, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

     Sec. 4.  That counts for any or all of the offenses named in sections one and three of this act may be joined in the same information or indictment.

     Sec. 5.  That in any prosecution for bigamy, polygamy, or unlawful cohabitation, under any statute of the United States, it shall be sufficient cause of challenge to any person drawn or summoned as a juryman or talesman, first, that he is or has been living in the practice of bigamy, polygamy, or unlawful cohabitation with more than one woman, or that he is or has been guilty of an offense punishable by either of the foregoing sections, or by section fifty-three hundred and fifty-two of the Revised Statutes of the United States, or the act of July first, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, entitled "An act to punish and prevent the practice of polygamy in the Territories of the United States and other places, and disapproving and annulling certain acts of the legislative assembly of the Territory of Utah", or, second, that he believes it right for a man to have more than one living and undivorced wife at the same time, or to live in the practice of cohabiting with more than one woman; and any person appearing or offered as a jurur or talesman, and challenged on either of the foregoing grounds, may be questioned on his oath as to the existence of any such cause of challenge, and other evidence may be introduced bearing upon the question raised by such challenge; and this question shall be tried by the court.  But as to the first ground of challenge before mentioned, the person challenged shall not be bound to answer if he shall say upon his oath that he declines on the ground that his answer may tend to criminate himself; and if he shall answer as to said first ground, his answer shall not be given in evidence in any criminal prosecution against him for any offense named in sections one or three of this act; but if he declines to answer on any ground, he shall be rejected as incompetent.

     Sec. 6.  That the President  is hereby authorized to grant amnesty to such classes of offenders guilty of bigamy, polygamy, or unlawful cohabitation, before the passage of this act, on such conditions and under such limitations as he shall think proper; but no such amnesty shall have effect unless the conditions thereof shall be complied with.

     Sec. 7.  That the issue of bigamous or polygamous marriages, known as Mormon marriages, in cases in which such marriages have been solemnized according to the ceremonies of the Mormon sect, in any Territory of the United States, and such issue shall have been born before the first day of January, anno Domini eighteen hundred and eighty-three, are hereby legitimated.

     Sec. 8.  That no polygamist, bigamist, or any person cohabiting with more than one woman, and no woman cohabiting with any of the persons described as aforesaid in this section, in any Territory or other place over which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction, shall be entitled to vote at any election held in any such Territory or other place, or be eligible for election or appointment or to be entitled to hold any office or place of public trust, honor or emolument in, under, or for any such Territory or place, or under the United States.

     Sec. 9.  That all the registration and election offices of every description in the Territory of Utah are hereby declared vacant, and each and every duty relating to the registration of voters, the conduct of elections, the receiving or rejection of votes, and the canvassing and returning of the same, and the issuing of certificates or other evidence of election in said Territory, shall, until other provision be made by the legislative assembly of said Territory as is hereinafter by this section provided, be performed under the existing laws of the United States and of said Territory by proper persons, who shall be appointed to execute such offices and perform such duties by a board of five persons, to be appointed by the President [of the United States], by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, not more than three of whom shall be members of one political party; and a majority of whom shall be a quorum.  The members of said board so appointed by the President shall each receive a salary at the rate of three thousand dollars per annum, and shall continue in office until the legislative assembly of said Territory shall make provision for filling said offices as herein authorized.  The Secretary of the Territory shall be the secretary of said board, and keep a journal of its proceedings, and attest the action of said board under this section.  The canvass and return of all the votes at elections in said Territory for members of the legislative assembly thereof shall also be returned to said board, which shall canvass all such returns and issue certificates of election to those persons who, being eligible for such election, shall appear to have been lawfully elected, which certificates shall be the only evidence of the right of such persons to sit in such assembly:  Provided, That said board of five persons shall not exclude any person otherwise eligible to vote from the polls on account of any opinion such person may entertain on the subject of bigamy or polygamy nor shall they refuse to count any such vote on account of the opinion of the person casting it on the subject of bigamy or polygamy; but each house of such assembly, after its organization, shall have power to decide upon the elections and qualifications of its members.  And at, or after the first meeting of said legislative assembly whose members shall have been elected and returned according to the provisions of this act, said legislative assembly may make such laws, conformable to the organic act of said Territory and not inconsistent with the other laws of the United States, as it shall deem proper concerning the filling of the offices in said Territory declared vacant by this act.

APPROVED, March 22, 1882


  1. Andy: This is some incredibly detailed research. Would you mind sharing some of your sources?

    Thanks, Ben H.

  2. Ben H.,

    My sources (assuming you're only talking about this single post):

    1. Ensign to the Nations. A History of the LDS Church from 1846 to 1972, by Russell R. Rich (14th printing, 1989). Chapter 17 (Statehood for Utah) has a good discussion about the bills listed above (starting around page 366).

    2. Church History in the Fulness of Times - Student Manual, published by the LDS Church (2nd Edition, 2003). Chapter 33 (A Decade of Persecution, 1877-87) has a short history of polygamy, laws/bills, etc.

    3. History of Salt Lake City, by Edward W. Tullidge (printed in 1886). Found this book on Google books. Starting with around chapter 40 (Beginning of the Anti-Mormon Crusade) is where some good information on this post (laws/bills, etc.) is located - it spans up to almost the end of the book (chapter 74 and a little after).

    4. Google's search engine. There are some very diligent people on the internet that have put together excellent summaries of what this post is attempting to describe.


  3. Thanks you very much for the tips!

  4. Does the Edmunds Act still exist? What of cohabitation. I am uncertain of the definition. For example, the old TV series "Three's Company" would that be illegal under this act?

  5. Are these the sources you used for all of the acts?

    1. Please check the 1862 blog post comment section for my response.