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History of Polygamy, Utah

Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
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In 1882 Congress passed the Edmunds Act, which was actually a series of amendments to the Morrill Act. It restated that polygamy was a felony punishable by five years of imprisonment and a $500 fine. Unlawful cohabitation, which was easier to establish because the prosecution had to prove only that the couple had lived together rather than that a marriage ceremony had taken place, remained a misdemeanor punishable by six months imprisonment and a $300 fine. Convicted polygamists were disenfranchised and were ineligible to hold political office. Those who practiced polygamy were disqualified from jury service, and those who professed a belief in it could not serve in a polygamy case. All registration and election officers in Utah Territory were dismissed, and a board of five commissioners was appointed to direct elections.

Because the Edmunds Act was unsuccessful in controlling polygamy in Utah, in 1884 Congress debated legislation to plug the loopholes. Finally, in 1887, the "hodge-podge" Edmunds-Tucker Bill passed. It required plural wives to testify against their husbands, dissolved the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company (a loan institution that helped members of the church come to Utah from Europe), abolished the Nauvoo Legion militia, and provided a mechanism for acquiring the property of the church, which already was disincorporated by the Morrill Act. The Cullom-Struble Bill with even stricter measures was debated in 1889, but the Mormon Church helped to prevent its passage by promising to do away with polygamy.


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