BYU Studies, Woman's Exponent
Economically, politically, socially, and theologically, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were known for being insular and cohesive at a time when the United States was stretching its boundaries and developing unifying communication and transportation networks across the continent. The concept of Manifest Destiny was imbibed by the young republic, and rugged individualism became a symbol of the adventurous entrepreneurs who saw a bounteous future in the great American West, especially with the addition of Mexican territory in 1848 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The Church was clearly out of sync with the path the nation followed, instead wrapping itself in the encircling “wagons” of distance and cohesion that promised security and sanctuary against the barbs and threats and abuse by those who drove them to the western frontier of the United States and then followed them there. But when polygamy was introduced in 1852 as another “peculiar Mormon practice,” the limits of religious, social, and political tolerance were reached. Polygamy was an affront to Victorian sensibilities, irrespective of its religious foundation, and every effort was exerted to stamp it out. Several congressional antipolygamy acts, a U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring polygamy unconstitutional, and nearly thirty years of effort were required, however, to force the Church to capitulate.2 In 1890, Church President Wilford Woodruff issued a “Manifesto” suspending the practice of plural marriage, and with it went a primary obstacle to statehood, which seven attempts and nearly half a century had failed to achieve. When statehood was granted in 1896, Utah in many respects joined the mainstream of American life.
Madsen, Carol Cornwall
"The “New Woman” and the Woman’s Exponent,"
BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 59:
3, Article 8.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol59/iss3/8