of these pressures had an impact on the church, even though they did
not compel the Latter-day Saints to abolish polygamy. Church leaders
as well as many of its members went into hiding--on the "underground"
as it was called--either to avoid arrest or to avoid having to testify.
Mormon Church President John Taylor died while in hiding. His successor, Wilford Woodruff, initially supported the continued practice of polygamy;
however, as pressure increased, he began to change the church's policy.
On 26 September 1890 he issued a press release, the Manifesto, which
read, "I publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is
to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the
land." The Manifesto was approved at the church's general conference
on 6 October 1890.
than resolving the polygamy question, however, according to one historian:
"For both the hierarchy and the general membership of the LDS Church,
the Manifesto inaugurated an ambiguous era in the practice of plural
marriage rivaled only by the status of polygamy during the lifetime
of Joseph Smith." Woodruff's public and private statements contradicted
whether the Manifesto applied to existing marriages. As a result of
the Manifesto, some men left plural wives; others interpreted it as
applying only to new marriages. All polygamous general authorities (church
leaders including the First Presidency, Council of the Twelve Apostles,
church patriarch, First Council of Seventy, and Presiding Bishopric)
continued to cohabit with their wives. Based on impressionistic evidence
in family histories and genealogical records, it appears that "most"
polygamists followed the general authorities' example.