Plural Marriage After the Manifesto


Before starting I want to give credit where credit is due. Most of following information came from Michael Quinn’s research.

Whether or not you believe the Manifesto was a false revelation, a deception, or a true revelation it doesn’t really matter. The actions of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles speak for themselves concerning the validity of the Manifesto.

Remember as you read these statements about the first Presidency and Twelve Apostles don’t try to diminish their importance. These were not “weaker” brethren or less important just because they were earlier in the church. These brethren were just as important in their time as our living Twelve apostles. Try to imagine if our current twelve apostles were doing these things, and that is the kind of weight these actions carried.

The following cases are listed chronologically and only a few of the events have been listed. It should be remembered that during this time the Church always publically stated the no more authorized plural marriages were being performed. Even in some cases people were excommunicated, to prove to the government the church really did oppose Plural Marriage. But regardless of the public actions of the church, the private defiance against the government, through secret marriages, shows the dedication of saints to the commandments of God.

In 1890 soon after the publication of the Manifesto the First Presidency authorized seven United States residents to go to Mexico for their Plural Marriages.

In 1891 two Plural Marriages were performed for Saints residing in Mexico.

In 1892 the First Presidency authorized some Plural Marriages in Mexico and Canada.

In 1893 the First presidency authorized one Plural Marriage in Mexico.

In 1894 the First Presidency authorized nine Plural Marriages; one in Canada, six in Mexico, and two in Utah. Between ths year and the next Brigham Young, Jr., one of the twelve, performed seven Plural marriages in Mexico.

In 1896 Abraham H. Cannon was married as proxy for his dead brother. This marriage was a Plural Marriage.

In 1897 the First Presidency authorized seven Plural Marriages for United States citizens to be performed in Mexico. Further more two marriages were authorized to be performed onboard ships.

In 1898 the Juarez Stake President was authorized to perform Plural Marriages for members of that stake without getting prior permission from the First presidency.

In 1899 the Church excommunicated some of those new Pluratists who entered into Plural Marriages. This was to counter anti-mormon accusations that the Manifesto was being violated. The First Presidency stopped Plural Marriages in Mexico but continued to allow them in Idaho and Utah.

In 1900 the President of the church continued to publically deny that and Plural Marriage were being authorized or that any Pluralists were living with their plural wives. A member of the First Presidency authorized one plural marriage in Mexico. Also a Patriarch was authorized to perform Plural Marriages for Mexican residents without prior consent of the First Presidency.

In 1901 the President of the Church authorized several apostles to marry plural wives.

In 1902 the Church President, Joseph F. Smith, authorized the Juarez Stake President to perform Plural Marriages even though one of the counselors had already authorize a patriarch to perform them. President Joseph F. Smith also gave cryptic permission for one Plural Marriage in this manner, “As President of the Church I cannot authorize you to marry this plural wife. However, I will not oppose your doing it.”

In 1903 for the first time a local authority was authorized to perform Plural Marriages in Canada.

In 1904 the Second Manifesto was issued in response to increasing government investigation. One wonders why a Second Manifesto would be necessary if the first one was actually effective. Again this was just another tactic to keep the United States government at bay. One apostle even assured Pluralists that the Second Manifesto was meaningless.

In 1905 Apostle George Teasdale performed some plural marriages in Mexico. A plural marriage was performed in the Logan temple by Marriner W. Merrillin for one of his sons. In Canada Matthias Cowley married a plural wife.

In 1906 Joseph F. Smith authorized one plural marriage.

In 1907 Joseph F. Smith gave permission for another plural marriage.

In 1908 a daughter of George Reynolds was married in a plural marriage.

In 1909 John W. Taylor the son of prophet John Taylor, married a plural wife.

These are just some of the actions that show that there was still a strong commitment to obey the Law of God, even though the government had forced them to publically renounce the practice. This was similar to what I believe that the actions of Joseph Smith were, in that there was a public denial of the principle while it was still practiced in private. So important was the principle of Plural Marriage to early Saints that they defied and lied to the unrighteous dominions to ensure that the Laws of God were upheld.

An interesting comparison can be made with Abraham in that He too was commanded by God to lie to a government authority in order to spare his life and keep his wife. When passing through Egypt Abraham was instructed to lie and tell Pharaoh the Sarah was his sister rather than his wife. This was so that Pharaoh wouldn’t kill Abraham to take Sarah. Only after gaining favor with Pharaoh was it revealed that Sarah was Abraham’s wife.

How strong is your dedication to obey the Laws of God? Would you be willing to defy governments and powers to obey God’s commandments? These early saints could all answer, “Yes!” even when faced with imprisonment, fines, and excommunication.

In 1886 John Taylor gave a warning to a select group of saints who he charged with perpetuating the principle of Plural Marriage regardless of what the church would do. He said,

Some of you will be handled and ostracized and cast out from the Church by your brethren because of your faithfulness and integrity to this principle, and some of you may have to surrender your lives because of the same, but woe, woe, unto those who shall bring these troubles upon you.

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One Response to Plural Marriage After the Manifesto

  1. John Ellis says:

    Interesting timeline here.

    Just for the record, Abraham did not lie when he told Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister. Although the Book of Abraham says that God instructed him to call Sarah his sister, the Bible does not. Even if I were to accept the Book of Abraham as legitimate, Sarah was in fact Abraham’s sister and his wife.

    Other than that, nice work!

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