Sacred Texts  Women  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 398



    It is of indisputed historic record that both the Christian Church and the Christian State in different centuries and under a number of differing circumstances gave their influence in favor of polygamy. The Roman emperor, Valentinian I., in the fourth century, authorized christians to take two wives; in the eighth century the great Charlemagne holding power over both church and state, in his own person practiced polygamy, having six, or according to some authorities, nine wives. With the Reformation this system entered Protestantism. As the first synod in North America was called for the purpose of trying a woman for heresy, so the first synod of the reformation was assembled for the purpose of sustaining polygamy, thus farther debasing woman in the marital relation. The great German reformer, Luther, although perhaps himself free from the lasciviousness of the old priesthood was not strictly monogamic in principle. When applied to by Philip, Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, for permission to marry a second wife while his first wife, Margaret of Savoy, was still living, he called together a synod of six of the principal reformers--Melancthon and Bucer among them--who in joint consultation decided "that as the Bible nowhere condemns polygamy, and as it has been invariably practiced by the highest dignitaries of the church," such marriage was

p. 399

legitimate, and the required permission was given. Luther himself with both the Old and the New Testaments in hand, saying, "I confess for my part that if a man wishes to marry two or more wives, I cannot forbid him, nor is his conduct ant to the Holy Scriptures." Thus we have the degrading proof that the doctrine of polygamy was brought into reformation by its earliest promoters under assertion that it was not inconsistent with the Bible or the principles of the Gospel. The whole course of Luther during the reformation proved his disbelief in the equality of women with man; when he left the Catholic church he took with him the old theory of her created subordination. It was his maxim that "No gown or garment worse becomes a woman than that she will be wise," thus giving the weight of his influence against woman's intellectual freedom and independent thought. Although he opposed monastic life, the home for woman under the reformation was governed by many of its rules.

    First: She was to be under obedience to man as head of the house.

    Second: She was to be constantly employed for his benefit.

    Third: Her society was strictly chosen for her by this master and head.

    Fourth: This "head" was a general-father confessor, to whom she was held accountable in word and deed.

    Fifth: Neither genius nor talent could free her from his control without his consent.

    Luther's views regarding polygamy have been endorsed and sanctioned since that period by men eminent in church and state. Lord Seldon known as "The Light of England" in the seventeenth century, published a work under title of "Uxor Hæbraica" for the

p. 400

purpose of proving that polygamy was permitted to the Hebrews. His arguments were accepted by the church as indisputable. Bishop Burnet, who while holding the great Protestant Episcopal See of Salisbury, so successfully opposed the plan inaugurated by Queen Anne for the establishment of a woman's college in England, added to his infamy by writing a tract entitled "Is a Plurality of Wives in any case Lawful under the Gospel?" This question he answered in the affirmative sustaining the rightfulness of polygamy under the Christian dispensation. Quoting the words of Christ upon divorce, he said:

    We must not by a consequence condemn a plurality of wives since it seems not to have fallen within the scope of what our Lord does there disapprove. Therefore I see nothing so strong against a plurality of wives as to balance the great and visible imminent hazards that hang over so many thousands if it be not allowed.

    The famous Puritan Poet of England, John Milton, known in the University as "The Lady of Christ College," writing upon "The Special Government of Man," says:

    I have not said the marriage of one man with one woman lest I should by implication charge the holy patriarchs and pillars of our faith, Abraham and others who had more than one wife, at the same time, with habitual sin; and lest I should be forced to exclude from the sanctuary of God as spurious, the whole offspring which sprang from them, yea, the whole of the sons of Israel, for whom the sanctuary itself was made. For it is said in Deuteronomy (xxii. 2,) "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of Jehovah even to the tenth generation." Either, therefore polygamy is a true marriage, or all children born in that state are spurious, which would include the whole race of Jacob, the twelve tribes chosen by God. But as such an assertion would be absurd in the extreme,

p. 401

not to say impious, and as it is the height of injustice as well as an example of the most dangerous tendency in religion, to account as sins what is not such in reality it appears to me that so far from the question respecting the lawfulness of polygamy being trivial, it is of the highest importance that it should be decided. Not a trace appears of the interdiction of polygamy throughout the whole law, not even in any of the prophets.

    The Paradise Lost of Milton is responsible among English speaking people for many existing views that are inimical to woman, and while his essays upon liberty have been of general beneficial influence upon the world, his particular teachings in regard to woman have seriously injured civilization. This man of polygamous beliefs, this tyrant over his own household who could not gain the love of either wives--of whom he had three--or of daughters, did much to popularize the idea of woman's subordination to man. "He for God; she for God in him" as expressed by the lips of Eve and so often quoted as proclaiming the true relationship between husband and wife in the line, "God thy law; thou mine." While the record of Milton's life shows him to have been an intolerable domestic tyrant, yet for the wife who could not live with him, the daughters whom social conditions and lack of education deprived of the necessary means for their support, thus compelling them to remain his victims looking forward to his death as their only means of release, the world has as yet exhibited but little sympathy. His genius, undisputed as its record must be in many directions, has made his views of overpowering influence upon the world since his day. But above all, more than all that created and sustained this influence were his views as to the polygamous rights of

p. 402

man, his depictment of Eve as looking upward to Adam as her God, and his general maintenance of the teaching of the church in regard to woman. Although it has been affirmed that after his blindness he dictated his great epic to his daughter and a Scotch artist has painted a scene (a picture owned by the Lenox Library), yet this is one of the myths men call history and amuse themselves in believing. Voltaire declared history to be only a parcel of tricks we play with the dead; and this tale of blind Milton dictating Paradise Lost to his daughters is a trick designed to play upon our sympathies. Old Dr. Johnson is authority for the statement that Milton would not allow his daughters to learn to write and it is quite certain that he did not permit them a knowledge of any language except the English, saying "one tongue is enough for a woman." Between Milton. and his family it is known there was tyranny upon one side, hatred upon the other.1

    The number of eminent Protestants both lay and clerical who have sanctioned polygamy has not been

p. 403

small. In the sixteenth century a former Capuchin monk, a general of that order who had been converted to the Protestant faith, published a work entitled "Dialogues in favor of Polygamy." In the latter part of the seventeenth century, John Lyser, another divine of the reformed church strongly defended it in a work entitled "Polygamia Triumphatrix" or the triumphant defense of polygamy. Rev. Dr. Madden, still another Protestant divine, in a treatise called "Thalypthora," maintained that Paul's injunction that bishops should be the husbands of one wife, signified that laymen were permitted to marry more than one. The scholarly William Ellery Channing could find no prohibition of polygamy in the New Testament. In his "Remarks on the Character and Writings of John Milton" he says, "We believe it to be an indisputable fact that although Christianity was first preached in Asia which had been from the earliest days the seat of polygamy, the apostles never denounced it as a crime and never required their converts to put away all wives but one. No express prohibition of polygamy is found in the New Testament." That eminent American divine, Henry Ward Beecher, the influence of whose opinions over all classes was for many years so great as to constitute him a veritable Protestant pope in the United States, a few years before his death was selected to reply at a New England dinner to a toast upon the Mormon question, the subject of polygamy then being under discussion by Congress. He not only deprecated the use of force in its suppression, but quoted Milton in seeming approval. We can therefore consistently rank Mr. Beecher as among the number of Protestant divines who believed there was scriptural warrant for this degradation of woman.

p. 404

    But it is not alone to the action of Christian monarchs or the opinion of jurists and ministers that we must solely look, but also to the action of the church as a body during different periods of its history. In the year 1846, the question of polygamy came up before the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in the United States. Through a committee, of which the eminent Chancellor Walworth, of New York, was chairman, this body reported against instructing missionaries to exclude polygamists from the church. This report was. adopted without a dissenting voice.2 This discussion brought out some interesting facts having especial bearing upon the views of those churches which numbered polygamists among their communicants. It was shown that the secretaries of the board appeared to consider the existence of polygamy in the churches as so entirely a frivolous question that even after it was especially brought to their notice they forbore to make inquiries, and even when polygamists had actually been admitted into the Mission churches, no taint of disapproval had been made by the Prudential Committee.3 The whole subject was left to the decision of the missionaries themselves, one of whom published his views in the "Boston Recorder." After prevising that the Bible was their rule of faith, he asks:

    Is it not evident from Paul's instruction respecting the qualifications of a bishop, viz., that he "should be the husband of one wife" that polygamy was permitted in the primitive church under the apostles, and that too in circumstances precisely similar to those in which churches are gathered among the heathen at the present day. If so, why should a different standard be set up than that set up by the apostles?"

p. 405

    That polygamy is not regarded as contrary to the principles of Christianity was again most forcibly shown in its endorsement by missionaries located in those countries where this custom prevails. One of the most notable instances of recent church action in recognizing polygamy as sustained by Christianity, occurred a few years since in Calcutta during a Conference upon the question. This body was convened by the missionaries of England and America located in India. Its immediate cause was the application of Indian converts, the husbands of several wives, for admission to the church. A missionary conference of the several Christian denominations was therefore called for the purpose of deciding upon this grave request. It included representatives of the Episcopal, Baptist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches. Taking the Bible as authority full consideration was given to the subject. Quotations from that "holy book" proved to the satisfaction of the conference that not alone did the Bible favor polygamy, but that God himself endorsed, regulated and sustained the institution. In addition it was declared that these converted polygamists "had given credible evidence of their personal piety." The conference therefore unanimously rendered favorable decision for retention of the polygamous members within the respective churches to which they belonged, upon the ground that as both the Jews and the early Christians had practiced polygamy, it was allowable to the new converts.

    If a convert before becoming a Christian, has married more wives than one, in accordance with the practice of the Jewish and primitive Christian churches, he shall be permitted to keep them all.

    Yet apparently as a concession to the somewhat altruistic civilization of the present age, which outside

p. 406

of the church does not look upon polygamous marriages with favor, such persons were declared ineligible to any office in the church. Rev. David O. Allen, D. D., missionary of the American Board in India for twenty-five years and from whose report of the action of the missionary conference the above facts were gained, said:

    If polygamy was unlawful, then Leah was the only wife of Jacob and none but her children were legitimate. Rachel as well as Bilhah and Zilpah were merely mistresses and their children, six in number, were bastards, the offspring of adulterous connection. And yet there is no intimation of any such views and feelings in Laban's family, or in Jacob's family or in Jewish history. Bilhah and Zilpah are called Jacob's wives (Genesis xxxvii: 2.). God honored the sons of Rachael, Bilhah and Zilpah equally with the sons of Leah, made them patriarchs of seven of the tribes of the nation and gave them equal inheritances in Canaan.

    Thus the endorsement of polygamy as not contrary to the Bible, or to Christianity, is shown by action of Christian churches both in the United States and India within the present century; and we can readily understand why a gentleman from the New England states traveling in Utah said: "Mormonism seems a very devout sect of the Christian church, differing but little from the great body of Christian people.4" Nor is this judgment at all strange as we find polygamy endorsed by the majority of Christian sects. Nor can we be surprised that the Mormons of Utah and the adjoining states should look upon the opposition of the United States to their practice of polygamy, as an unjust interference with an established custom of the Christian

p. 407

church, recognized and indorsed through the ages, as not alone part of the Jewish and early christian practice, but permitted as allowable at the present day. President Eliot, of Harvard, speaking in Salt Lake City, compared the Mormons to the Puritans, thus throwing the weight of his statement as to the harmony between Mormonism and other christian sects.

    The Rochester, N. Y., "Herald," in forgetfulness of early puritan history, says "It would be interesting to know from what point of view President Eliot took his observation," and refers to "Mormon Contempt and debasement of Womanhood; Mormon discouragement of intelligence and education among its dupes and victims," etc. The "Herald" has apparently forgotten the trial of women for heresy by the Puritans; their imprisonment, heavily ironed in airless jails, for the crime of religious free thought; the flogging of naked women on Boston Common by the Puritans for free speech and their being executed as witches, in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts. The "Herald" has apparently forgotten that although the first money given for the foundation of Harvard itself was by a woman, her sex, "dupe and victim," is still denied the full advantage of education in that institution. It forgets that although the first plot of ground for a free school in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts was given by a woman, girls were denied education even in common schools until it became necessary to permit their attendance during the summer months while the boys were engaged in fishing, in order to retain possession of school moneys. The "Herald" seems unaware of the vigorous letter of Mrs. Hannah Adams, wife of the second president of the United States, to her husband,

p. 408

    John Adams, when he was a member of the first Congress, in reference to the need of education for women. Should the "Herald" pursue its investigations still farther, it will find the Puritans connected with the most serious "crimes" against humanity; it will discover priestly and governmental "usurpation," Puritan "fanaticism and bigotry;" even Puritan "disloyalty." When President Eliott favorably compared the Christian Puritans and the Christian Mormons, he spoke both as a close reader of Puritan history and a close observer of Mormon history; his declaration of their similarity to each other cannot be denied by the candid historian. Building upon the: same common foundation, acknowledging the same common origin, the doctrines of the two systems necessarily bear close resemblance to each other.5 Under the Christian theory regarding woman, her origin and her duties, it should not be regarded as at all strange that polygamy should find defenders in the christian world. Nor is it to be looked upon as at all as surprising that the Mormons, the most recent Protestant sect, should teach polygamy as a divinely organized institution, nor that their arguments in its favor should be drawn from the Bible and not from the book of Mormon. That polygamy was not an original Mormon tenet is well known; it was derived from a professed revelation to Joseph Smith, sustained by biblical authority. The polygamous Mahommedans regard Christ as a prophet, the same as the Mormons respect the authority of the Bible. The Mormon marriage formula

p. 409

directs the man to look to God, but enjoins the woman to look toward her husband as God, rendering him the same unquestioning obedience that has been demanded from all Christian wives through the ages; the priest, as customary with the hierarchal class, declaring himself endowed with an authority from on high to bind or to loose on earth, seals the union of the pair for time and eternity. Although the marriage ceremony of the Mormon church is more complex, in many respects it parallels that of the Presbyterians of Scotland during the early day of the Reformation, authority for woman's degradation in each case being derived from the Bible, the language in each instance being unfit for publication.6

    An epistle of the First Presidency to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in General Conference, said:

    "The Gospel of the Son of God, brings life and immortality to light." We believe in Jerusalems, such as the one which John saw when banished as a slave to the Isle of Patmos because of his religion, where promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are to be fulfilled; "which had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates. and at the gates twelve angels"--and the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was one pearl." Its walls were of jasper, its streets and the city were pure gold. The foundations of the wall were garnished with all manner of precious stones, and the glory of God did lighten it, "and the Lamb is the light thereof." Its pearly gates had written upon them the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel and the foundations of its walls, "the names of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb."

    "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see

p. 410

His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. The porters of its gates were angels and its light the glory of God." What was written on those pearly gates? The names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Who was Israel? Jacob. From whom did the twelve tribes descend? From Jacob. What were their names? The names of the sons of Jacob, which he had by four wives. Jacob, then, was a polygamist? Yes; he was one of those barbarians of which the judge of the Third judicial District says: "These practices might have been proper in a barbarous and primitive time--in crude times--but they won't do now. Civilization has thrown them away. It won't do to gather up these old customs and practices out of the by-gone barbarism and by-gone ages, and attempt to palm them upon a free and intelligent and civilized people in these days."

How free the people are in Utah to-day needs no discussion. If the judge cannot stand these things it would seem God and the Lamb can, for He is the light of the city, on the gates of which are written the names of twelve men, the sons of one man by four women--a polygamist. Had Jacob lived now, the judges would have sent spies, spotters and deputy marshals after him, and if caught would have sent him to the penitentiary.

    This epistle boldly challenges christian belief in the New Jerusalem as based upon polygamy; upon its gates the names of twelve polygamous children are inscribed, sons of one man, children of four mothers, two wives and two concubines. Of Solomon, this epistle could likewise have spoken, whom the Bible represents as the wisest man that lived; his wives numbering three hundred, his concubines seven hundred. Nor are Jacob and Solomon two isolated instance of Jewish polygamy; Mormons, in common with the lay and clerical authorities previously referred to, find abundant proof for their sanction of

p. 411

polygamy both in the revelations of the Old and the New Testaments. But each human being entering the world is a revelation to himself, to herself, and the revelation inherently abiding in all women, declares against such degradation of herself and her sex.

    Brigham Young, the first Mormon president, husband of nineteen wives, father of forty-two children, possessed great natural fascination; was a man of wonderful magnetism. Of him a daughter said: "his slightest touch was a caress." His seventh wife, an elegant and fashionable woman, was said by her daughter to worship the ground that he walked upon and never to have been herself since his death. From this favorite daughter of Young who after his death apostatized from the Mormon religion, much has been learned in regard to the real feeling of these polygamous wives toward each other, which she characterized as "an outward semblance of good will, but in reality a condition of deadly hatred." Such outward semblance of good will, such real condition of deadly hatred is the result of all forms of religion which subjugate the many to the caprice of the few, even though done under assumption of divine authority. That envy, jealousy and hatred should be among the dire results of woman's religious degradation, cannot be a subject of surprise to the student of human nature; and it is supreme proof of the bondage of the human will under fancied authority from God, that such minds as those of Luther, Milton, Seldon, Beecher, Walworth and others like them should uphold a system so degrading in character alike to the men and the women who practice it. Young's daughter Dora with five of her sister's, was expelled a few years since from the Mormon church for having gone to law with

p. 412

certain of the Mormon brethren who attempted to rob them of their patrimony. The elders realizing the injury these women might do for the church, sent a couple of teachers to interview Dora, invoking her father's name to influence her dropping the suit7 and return to the church. Dora had been aroused by a sense of the iniquity of the church, through hearing its elders declare upon oath that they knew nothing of polygamous marriage ceremonies being performed, while the same day of this denial no less than fourteen such marriages had taken place at the Endowment House. Referring to the conscientious belief held by many women of the necessity of polygamous marriage in order to secure the sanctification requisite for their salvation, Dora said:

    Since my eyes have been opened I sometimes ask myself how I could ever possibly have regarded the horrible and licentious practices of which I was aware, and the terrible things I have witnessed with anything but horror? And yet I was brought up to consider these things right and I thought nothing about them-just as I suppose children brought up where human sacrifices are offered, learn to regard such sacrifice as right and to look upon them with indifference.

    Experience taught Dora that the natural character of the human mind soon accommodates itself to circumstances, becomes in accord with its environment, and

p. 413

regards as right whatever law or custom teaches is right. This, called the conservative tendency of the human mind, is merely the result of habitude of thought induced by authoritative teaching. Both church and state have availed themselves of the influence of authoritative custom for the perpetuation of power In this way despotism has gained its chief victories. The beliefs to which persons have been habituated from childhood, are, without investigation, deemed truths by the majority of the world. No step so great in its far-reaching results as that of independent thought; none so greatly feared by priestly and civil power; and among women during the Christian ages, none has met with such swift rebuke, no sin has been characterized as its equal in malignancy. Therefore while the world has possessed full knowledge of man's opinions regarding polygamy, not until the present century and in the United States have the views of women been attainable. Until the present age there has been no escape from bondage for the polygamous wife, no opportunity for learning its effects upon her own inner self. From the daughter of its chief prophet, the man whose fame in connection with polygamy has gone throughout the world, we have learned something of its evils as seen and felt by woman. Yet other and still stronger testimony is not lacking. A private letter written in Salt Lake City a few years since, published in the "Boston Transcript" under head of "The Silent Woes of Mormonism" depicts one phase in its influence upon the unborn.

    "A few years ago an educated young journalist came to Salt Lake City from Europe with his young wife. Both became sincere believers in Mormonism. Then strong pressure was brought to bear by the priesthood upon the husband to force him into polygamy. The

p. 414

wife finding opposition in vain, at last gave her nominal consent. A second bride was brought into the house. In a short time the first wife became a mother, but the infant never cried aloud. It came voiceless into the world. But it wept in secret all the time. Sleeping or waking the tears flowed from its closed eyes, and in a few weeks it died. The mother said that it died of a broken heart. Every day of its life it shed the tears that its mother had repressed before its birth."

    The experience of Caroline Owens, whose suit for bigamy against, her polygamous husband, John D. Miles, appealed from the Supreme Court of Utah to the Supreme Court of the United States-a suit implicating Delegate Cannon, of the Congress of the United States, in its tale of wrong, presents another phase. Miss Owens was an English girl acquainted with Miles from her childhood. He had emigrated to Utah, but in England on a visit he urged her to return with him, promising her marriage when they reached Salt Lake City. She questioned him as to polygamy. He replied that a few old men were allowed more than one wife, but that young men like himself had but one, although he spoke of one Emily Spencer who had expressed affection for him but whom he had no intention of marrying. Upon reaching Salt Lake City, Miss Owens staid at the house of United States Delegate George Q. Cannon, where but one wife resided. When the day of the wedding arrived she went through the ceremonies of the Endowment House, lasting from ten o'clock in the morning until three in the afternoon, and had been wedded to John D. Miles. She says:

    "I can never tell the horrors of the next few hours. Before that day was over my love had turned to burning hatred. When we started to go home, Miles told

p. 415

me that he had invited Emily Spencer to our wedding reception. I said if she came to the house I should leave. He replied he was now master. I went to my room and dressed for the reception, which took place at Cannon's other house, where he kept his three wives. When I went down there was a crowd there, among the rest a plain looking girl in a calico dress, to whom I was introduced. It was Emily Spencer. I did not speak to her. After a while they wanted to dance, and asked me to play. Emily Spencer sat on a piano stool. I told her to get up. Miles came forward and said, 'Sit still, Emily Spencer, my wife.' I felt as though I had been shot. I said, 'Your wife! then what am I?' He said, 'You are both my wives.' All at once my shame flashed over me. Here I was dishonored, the polygamous wife of a Mormon. I ran out of the house, bent only on escape, I did not think where; I could not do it, though, for Miles and young Cannon, a son of the delegate, ran after me and dragged me back. We had been intending to stay in that house all night, but I stole away and returned to the other house, where I had been living the three weeks since my arrival from England. I noticed there was no key in the lock, but shot a little bolt and piled up chairs against the door. I cried myself to sleep. The next thing I knew I don't know what time it was, Miles stood in the room and was locking the door on the inside. I screamed, because Mrs. Cannon and Miles' step-mother had been living in the house with me. Miles said I need not take on, for brother Cannon had anticipated that I would make trouble and had had the house cleared of every one else. I found out that it was so. He told me that I might as well submit; there was no law here to control the saints; there was no power on earth that would save me."

    She was subjected to great brutality, again and again beaten and exhorted to bear her condition patiently as a sister to be exalted; because of her rebellious spirit she was hectored and threatened, stoned, jeered at and abused in many ways, all under pretense

p. 416

of religion, until after three weeks of such matrimonial life she escaped and among the "Gentiles" found rest and help. She speaks of polygamous wives as half-clad, poorly fed, toiling like serfs without hope under the chains of a religious despotism.8 Mormon polygamy possesses the peculiar feature of tracing the system of plural marriage to the gods; a father and mother god and goddess; a grandfather a grandmother god and goddess, and thus in constantly ascending scale; from these they claim the origin of their own polygamous system. Every Mormon man, however depraved, is taught that if he lives up to the plural marriage system, upon his death he will become a god holding power and procreating children to all eternity. But should any Mormon, however pure his life, die unmarried, he has forever lost his opportunity of becoming a god, but remains simply an angel, a servant of the polygamous gods.9 The belief is inculcated in woman, that to her marriage is even more necessary than to man. Without marriage there is no resurrection for her, and thus believing polygamy a requisite for eternal salvation, thousands silently endure the woes of this condition. This latest christian sect, this final outgrowth of centuries of barbarous teaching, is the most determined effort against the integrity of womanhood since the days of the Jewish

p. 417

patriarchs. The duty of giving birth to numerous children in order to save waiting spirits and to swell the glory of the polygamous father in his after death godship, is as thoroughly taught as when in mediæval days monk and priest preached woman's duty to constantly add numbers to the church. The late Helen H. Jackson who had thoroughly investigated the Mormon question, writing of polygamy in the "Century," said:

    "The doctrine, to be completely studied, must be considered both from the man's point of view and the woman's, the two being, for many reasons, not identical. But it is the woman's view of it, her belief and position in regard to it, which are most misrepresented and misunderstood by the world. If the truth were known, there would be few persons in whose minds would be any sentiment except profound pity for the Mormon woman--pity, moreover, intensified by admiration. There has never been a class or sect of women since the world began who have endured for religion's sake a tithe of what has been, and is, and forever must be, endured by the women of the Mormon church. It has become customary to hold them as disreputable women, light and loose, unfit to associate with the virtuous, undeserving of any esteem. Never was greater injustice committed.

    "The two doctrines which most help the Mormon woman to endure the suffering of living in plural marriage are the doctrines of pre-existence and of the eternal cont nuance of the patriarchal order. The mere revelation from Joseph Smith, to the effect that polygamy was to be permitted and was praiseworthy and desirable, would never, alone, have brought the Mormon women to hearty acceptance of the institution.

    "They are taught and most unquestioningly believe that the universe is full of spirits waiting, and waiting impatiently, to he born on this earth These spirits have already passed through one stage of discipline

p. 418

and probation and are to enter upon a second one here. The Rev. Edward Beecher once published a book setting forth a similar doctrine. The Mormon doctrine goes farther than Dr. Beecher's, inasmuch as it teaches that these spirits may select of their own free will where and how they will be born into their earthly probation; and that they are, one and all, anxious to be born in the Mormon church, as the one true Zion, where alone are to be found safety and salvation. They also believe that the time is limited during which these spirits can avail themselves of this privilege of being born into Zion. They look for the return of Jesus Christ to the earth before long and for the establishment then of the millennial dispensation, after which no more of the spirits can be reborn and reclaimed. Hence the obligation resting upon every faithful Mormon woman to bring into the world, in the course of her life, as many children as possible. Not only does she thus contribute to the building up and strengthening of the true church but she rescues souls already existing and in danger of eternal death. It is easy to sneer at this doctrine as inconceivable rubbish; and, in truth, it must be admitted that it is hard to conceive of an educated mind receiving it; but it is no more absurd or unprovable than hundreds of kindred speculations and notions which have been devised, preached and passionately believed in times past. Neither has the absurdity or non-absurdity, falsity or truth of the belief, anything to do with our judgment of its believers."

    In furtherance of its plan for temporal power, the astuteness of the Mormon theocracy is shown in this doctrine of pre-existent spirits10 continually waiting birth upon the earth. This together with its other theory of the superior power and godhood in a future life, of the father of numerous children, imposes the condition of continual motherhood upon Mormon wives.

    But during the Christian ages this theory of woman's

p. 419

duty to constantly bear children in order to the upholding of the church has ever been taught. Even Philip Melancthon, the great associate of Luther in the Reformation, saying: "If a woman becomes weary of bearing children, that matters not. Let her only die from bearing, she is there to do it." So little does the church yet understand the right of woman to an existence for herself alone that not five years have passed since a minister of the Methodist church in the state of New York publicly declared he saw no reason for woman's creation but the bearing of children. In a lecture upon Mormonism in Boston, Prof. Conyear, of the Salt Lake City Collegiate Institute, speaking of the sufferings endured by Mormon women in order thus to secure personal salvation, said:

    "Hate the system as you hate Satan, but have mercy on the people who are there in such a bondage--a bondage worse than that in which the negro in the South was ever held."

    But these doctrines accepted as truth by devout Mormon women are not more degrading to them, not more injurious to civilization, than is the belief of orthodox christian women in regard to the frailty and primal sin of her sex and the curse of her Creator upon her in consequence. To this belief she has been trained from her childhood as her mother before her and her feminine relatives for innumerable centuries, and without investigation she has accepted these doctrines of the church as true. Yet all these theories so degrading to woman are of purely human masculine origin, their object, power for man, and the subordination of woman to him in every relation of life. The eternal continuance of the patriarchal order, a doctrine of the Mormons, is paralleled among orthodox christians by the teaching of an eternal continuance of the male

p. 420

priestly order, woman forever excluded. The Mormon woman no more fully places herself in position of servant to her husband, whom at the Endowment House marriage ceremony she promises to "obey," than has the orthodox christian woman through the ages, when she has promised obedience to her husband at the marriage altar. Nor is the general religious training of the two very different. The Mormon woman is taught that her salvation depends upon polygamous marriage and her subjection to her husband in all things; the orthodox christian woman is taught that her salvation depends upon her belief that woman brought sin into the world, in punishment whereof God placed her in subjection to man; and during the ages her promise of obedience to man has been held as an integral part of the marriage ceremony. Nor did a change begin to take place until after the inauguration of the woman suffrage reform. Not until woman herself rebelled against such annihilation of her own conscience and responsibility, did a few sects in some instances omit this promise from their forms of marriage, although it still remains a portion of the Greek, Catholic and Anglican ceremony as well as of other Protestant sects. The shock of finding educated women of New England birth, members of the Mormon church as polygamous wives, is lessened upon a careful analysis of the Mormon doctrine in comparison with those of orthodox Christianity regarding women: all alike rest upon the same foundation; all teach that sin entered the world through woman; all alike darken the understanding through such false teaching. The women of the Mormon church received their training under orthodox Christianity, which laid the foundation of their self contempt.11 With the

p. 421

professed revelation of the Book of Mormon, a class of priests arose who no less positively and authoritatively asserted its doctrines to be of God than the priesthood of other divisions of christianity assert the Bible to be of God; and alike each declare themselves and their followers to be his chosen people. "By authority of the priesthood of God," has carried weight in all ages, and no greater weight among the Mormons of the present day than among Christians of all ages. Under the christian theory regarding the origin and duties of woman it is not surprising that polygamy should ever have found defenders in the christian world, nor is it at all singular that Mormonism as "the latest founded christian sect" should teach polygamy as a divinely organized institution, drawing its arguments from the Bible. Bishop Lunt of that church, defending polygamy as of divine origin, said:

    God revealed to Joseph Smith the polygamous system. It is quite true that his widow declared that no such revelation was ever made, but that was because she had lost the spirit. God commanded the human race to multiply and replenish the earth. Abraham had two wives, and the Almighty honored the second one by a direct communication. Jacob had Leah and Zilpah. David had a plurality of wives, and was a man after God's own heart. God gave him Saul's two wives, and only condemned his adulteries. Moses, Gideon and Joshua had each a plurality of wives. Solomon had wives and concubines by hundreds, though we do not believe in the concubine system. We leave that to the Gentiles. Virtue and chastity wither beneath the monogamic institution, which was borrowed from the pagan nations by the early

p. 422

    Christians. It was prophesied that in the latter days seven women would lay hold of one man and demand to bear his name, that, they might not be held in dishonor. The Protestants and Catholics assail us with very poor grace when it is remembered that the first pillars of the religion they claim to profess were men like the saints of Utah--polygamists. The fact cannot be denied. Polygamy is virtually encouraged and taught by example by the Old Testament. It may appear shocking and blasphemous to Gentiles for us to say so, but we hold that Jesus Christ himself was a polygamist. He was surrounded by women constantly, as the Scriptures attest, and those women were his polygamous wives. The vast disparity between the sexes in all settled communities is another argument in favor of polygamy, to say nothing of the disinclination among young male Gentiles to marrying. The monogamic system condemns millions of women to celibacy. A large proportion of them stray from the path of right, and these unfortunates induce millions of men to forego marriage. As I have said, virtue and chastity wither under the monogamic system.

    There are no illegitimate children in Utah; there are no libertines; there are no brothels, excepting where the presence of Gentiles creates the demand for them. Even then our people do what they can to root out such places. There is a positive advantage in having more than one wife. It is impossible to find a Gentile home, where comforts and plenty prevail, in which there is only one woman. No one woman can manage a household. She must have assistance. Hence we claim that when a man marries a second wife, he actually benefits the first one, and contributes to her ease, and relieves her of a large burden of care. The duties of the houeshold are divided between the two women, and everything moves on harmoniously and peacefully. The whole thing is a matter of education. A girl reared under the monogamic system may look with abhorrence on ours; our young women do not do so They expect, when they marry a man, that he will some day take another wife, and

p. 423

they consider it quite natural that he should do so. In wealthy Gentile communities the concubine system largely takes the place of the polygamous system. Any man of intelligence, observation and travel, knows that such is the case. The fact is ignored by general consent, and little is said about it and nothing is written about it. It is not regarded as a proper subject of conversation or of publication. How much better to give lonely women a home while they are uncontaminated, and honor them with your name, and perpetually provide for them, and before the world recognize your own offspring! The polygamous system is the only natural one, and the time rapidly approaches when it will be the most conspicuous and beneficent of American institutions. It will be the grand characteristic feature of American society. Our women are contented with it--more, they are the most ardent defenders of it to be found in Utah. If the question were put to a vote to-morrow, nine-tenths of the women of Utah would vote to perpetuate polygamy.

    In line with other Christian sects Mormons claim that polygamy is countenanced by the New Testament as well as by the Old. They interpret Paul's teaching in regard to bishops, while commanding them to marry one wife, as also not prohibiting them from marrying more than one; their interpretation of this passage but slightly varying from that of Rev. Mr. Madan. Rev. C. p. Lyford, of the Methodist church, long a resident of Utah, does not fail to see the degradation of the people as in proportion to the despotism of the hierarchy. He says.

    It took the Methodist church forty years to get a membership of 38,000. Mormonism in forty-four years counted 250,000. It seems incredible, nevertheless it is a fact. In this brief space of time it has also been able to nullify our laws, oppose our institutions, openly perpetrate crimes, be represented in Congress, boast of the helplessness of the nation to prevent these

p. 424

things, and give the church supremacy over the state and the people. Bills introduced in Congress adequate to their overthrow have been year after year allowed to fall to the ground without action upon them.

    Our public men can only pronounce against the crime of polygamy; the press can see only polygamy in Utah; the public mind is impressed with only the heinousness of polygamy. Back of polygamy is the tree that produces it and many kindred evils more dear to the Mormon rulers. They do not care for all the sentiment or law against this one fruit of the tree, if the tree itself is left to stand. The tree--the prolific cause of so many and so great evils in Utah, the greatest curse of the territory, the strength of Mormonism, and its impregnable wall of defense against Christianity and civilization, is that arbitrary, despotic, and absolute hierarchy known as the Mormon Priesthood.

    Mr. Lyford has partial insight into the truth when be says "back of polygamy is the tree that produces it and many kindred evils;" but in defining that tree as the hierarchy--the priesthood--he has not reached the entire truth. He does not touch the ground which supports the tree. Polygamy is but one development of the doctrine of woman's created inferiority, the constant tendency of which is to make her a mere slave under every form of religion extant, and of which the complex marriage of the Christian sect of Perfectionists at Oneida Community was but another logical result.

    When woman interprets the Bible for herself, it will be in the interest of a higher morality, a purer home. Monogamy is woman's doctrine, as polygamy is man's. Backofen, the Swiss jurist, says that the regulation of marriage by which, in primitive times, it became possible for a woman to belong only to one man, came about by a religious reformation, wherein the women in armed conflict, obtained a victory over men.

p. 425

    While the greatest number of converts to the Mormon church are from among the ignorant peasantry of foreign countries, still no less than in orthodox christianity do we find people of culture and education upholding its doctrines, an irrefragable proof that the power of religious despotism lies in two conditions; First, ignorance; Second, fear. To fear must ever be attributed the great victories of religious despotism. Fear of punishment after death from which obedience to priestly teaching is believed to free. Such slavery of the human mind has ever been the greatest obstacle to advancing civilization. Men and women of the Christian church not daring to use their own free thought upon such questions, are no less bound than the savage, who makes a hideous noise in order to frighten away the monster he thinks trying to swallow the sun during an eclipse.

    The strength of the church has ever lain in its power of producing fear and impelling belief in its assertion that the priesthood alone can define the will of God, and that as His chosen servants they but voice His will in every word they utter. Unhesitating belief in this assertion has been required through the Christian ages as evidence of a true son or daughter of the church, while the cry of heresy, so frightful in its significance, so terrible in its punishment under the priesthood, has most effectively prevented investigation and quenched the fire of rebellious thought.

    The Mormon priesthood look toward the establishment of a temporal kingdom in connection with their religion. They maintain that the civil power inherently belongs to the theocracy and should supersede all other forms of government. Like the priesthood of other sects they claim divine guidance in the promulgation

p. 426

of their laws as proceeding from above while those of the state emanate from man himself and consequently are not binding upon the conscience, the church as a body ever claiming to hold the keys of heaven and of hell; and the implicit belief given to such assertion by tens and hundreds of thousands, has ever been a most powerful method for subduing the reason. Its anathemas, its excommunications, its denial of church rites in marriage, in burial, its control of both temporal and spiritual power, have ever made its weapons of the most formidable character. Fear of what may be met in a future life over which the church assumes such knowledge and control, subjugation of the reason, the fostering of ignorance, the denial of education and the constant teaching that thought outside! of the line formulated by the church is deepest sin, has held the christian world in bondage during its centuries. Inasmuch as it is impossible for the candid thinker not to perceive that all forms of christianity are based upon the statement that woman having brought sin into the world rendered the sacrifice of a Saviour necessary, the reason of such persistent effort upon the part of the church for woman's entire subjugation becomes apparent. It is assumed by all theocracies that the church is a temporal kingdom, with supreme right to the control of all civil affairs. Every theocracy is therefore a political system seeking control of the civil government and however greatly suppressed in action, every theocracy proposes such control as its ulterior design. Early in 1890, an encyclical letter by the pope declared the' supremacy of the church over the state, commanding resistance to the. authority of the state in case of its conflicting with the pretensions of the Supreme Pontiff

p. 427

of the Catholic church. The Mormon theocracy and the Catholic here show their affinity. Nor are Protestants without similar pretensions as is proven by the action of the "National Reform Association" of the United States; whose aim is the union of church and state through an amendment to the Federal constitution, its ultimate purpose being that of theocratic control over the civil government of this country. These various bodies are parts of the "Christian Party in Politics;" nor is this party of recent origin; as early as 1827-8 when composed almost entirely of Protestants, its designs upon the life of the republic were noted by the eloquent Scotch reformer, Frances Wright, during her travels, lectures and residence in this country. Mormonism and Catholicism do not more greatly threaten the civil and religious integrity of this republic than does the "National Reform Association," the theocracy of the Protestant church equally with that of the Catholic church constantly striving to incite congressional action in favor of obligatory religious teaching and seeking control of the common schools. Yet the history of the world proves that wherever tried, ecclesiastical schools have lowered the standard of education. To-day the schools under control of the Mormon church in no respect equal those of adjacent territories. Under the plea of religious freedom the greatest dangers arise. While the Mormons affirm, in reference to polygamy that their church laws concern Mormons alone, no less do other theocracies inculcate doctrines contrary to civil law; the catholic church, its spirit to-day12 the same as during past ages,

p. 428

making civil marriage and the public school system its present objective points of opposition to the state; while the general body of protestant churches more openly than the catholic churches proclaim their intention not alone to control secular education, marriage and divorce, but to unite church and state through a change in the fundamental law of the United States. A somewhat wide-spread fear exists in regard to the encroachment of Catholicism upon civil liberty. The most potent danger lies elsewhere, the most potent because the least perceived; the most potent because arising from a body whom the masses of native Americans, through heredity and training, look upon as supporters and defenders of both civil and religious liberty--the priesthood of the orthodox Protestant churches. Mormonism does not so fully threaten civil and religious liberty; catholicism is not making greater encroachments upon them than are the great body of the protestant clergy, under the name and the work of the "National Reform Association."

    The people of the United States with careless security in the power of the principles of freedom upon which the government is based, fail to note the theocratic encroachment everywhere threatened.14 The

p. 429

very nature of sacerdotalism, professing as it every where does, to hold authority of a supernatural character, unfailingly creates a claim of supremacy over civil government. President John Taylor, of the Mormon church, a few years since openly asserted these claims, saying: "We are independent of newspapers, independent of kings, independent of governments." But it is not the Mormon priesthood alone that declares its independence of secular governments. This is the same spirit that seen through the ages of christianity has been so plainly shown by Catholicism since the temporal power in Italy has fallen into the hands of a secular monarch, and that is now so fully a part of Protestant effort. Under the overwhelming amount of biblical proof quoted in its favor by the most eminent legal and clerical minds of the christian church we must admit the doctrine of polygamy to be a component part of christianity. Although like the fagot and the stake, under the light of advancing civilization it has somewhat fallen into disrepute with the majority of men and women, yet its renewal as an underlying principle of a new christian sect need not be a subject of astonishment. The pulpit, the bar, and legislative halls are still under the control of man and these institutions still express the form of civilization that is due to his teachings. But as neither moral nor intellectual education is of value unless founded upon a material basis, the world now beginning to see that Wall Street, and the Bourse, with their fingers upon the business of the world, are fast

p. 430

becoming of greater importance in determining the future character of civilization than St. Peters, the Kremlin, or Westminster Abbey. Wendell Phillips once declared that the advance of civilization was not dependent upon either the pulpit or the press but upon commerce, and a careful study of the inventions and industries of the age, confirm this statement. Material needs, underlying all others, direct the tenor of modern civilization. But commerce of itself is not alone responsible. Within the past thirty years a new element has widely entered into the business of the world, and even the most careless observer can but in many ways note the changing customs and habits of business life, and that under this change, a new form of civilization is dawning upon the world. Woman once so carefully excluded is now everywhere seen. At the counter, behind the cashier's desk, as buyer, as business manager, and in many instances as employer, conducting business for herself. Every kind of industry is opening to her, from that of government employee at Washington with the financial interests of the nation in her grasp, to that of electrical business, woman is everywhere found. The commerce of the world is rapidly changing hands and the next quarter of a century will find woman in its full control. But few persons foresee the ultimate result of this change. With a new class at the helm, commerce will give new ideas to the world. If christianity survive the shock of coming events, it will present a different aspect within the next fifty years and its teachings in regard to woman will be totally unlike those of past ages. As woman comes into new relations with the great institutions of the world, she will cease to believe herself inferior and subordinate

p. 431

to man. Polygamy and all kindred degradations of her sex will become things of the past, and taking her rightful place in church and state she will open a new civilization to the world.

Next: Chapter VIII. Woman And Work.


p. 402

1.  Milton's oriental views of the function of women led him not only to neglect but to prevent the education of his daughters. They were sent to no school at all, but were handed over to a school mistress in the house. He would not allow them to learn any language, saying with a sneer that "for a woman one tongue is enough." The miseries however that follow the selfish sacrifice of others is so sure to strike, that there needs no future world of punishment to adjust the balance. The time came when Milton would have given worlds that his daughters had learned the tongues. He was blind and could only get at his precious book--could only give expression to his precious verses through the eyes and hands of others. Whose hands and whose eyes so proper for this as his daughters? He proceeded to train them to read to him, parrot-like, in five or six languages which he (the schoolmaster) could at one time have easily taught them; but of which they now could not understand a word. He turned his daughters into reading machines. It is appalling to think of such a task. That Mary should revolt and at last after repeated contests with her taskmaster, learn to hate her father--that she should, when some one spoke in her presence of her father's approaching marriage, make the dreadful speech that it was no news to hear of his wedding, but if she could hear of his death, that was something-is unutterably painful, but not surprising.--The Athenaeum.

p. 404

2.  The Church as It Is.--Parker Pillsbury, pp. 32-3-4-5-6.

3.  Report of the Proceedings of the Missionary Conference.--Mr. Perkins' speech.

p. 406

4.  The same hymns are sung, the same doctrine preached, the same necessity for salvation emphasized, and justification by faith is made the corner stone of redemption.

p. 408

5.  Historians have declared that "Nowhere did the spirit of Puritanism in its evil as well as its good, more thoroughly express itself than in Massachusetts and Rhode Island." Boston, for its atrocities was known as "The Bloody Town." "The Emancipation of Massachusetts" by Brooks Adams, gives a very correct account of the retarding influence of Puritan bigotry in the development of intellectual truth in the New England States.

p. 409

6.  The true character of Presbyterian Pastors in Scotland in Time of Charles II.

p. 412

7.  When her father's name was mentioned, Dora said, "Don't speak to me of my father, Mr. Morris, you and the whole church know that my father, prophet though you call him, broke many a woman's heart. If it is required of me to break as many hearts and ruin as many women as my father did, I should go to perdition before I would go back into the church again. and--"

"Oh, sister Dora! exclaimed the teacher in consternation at her clearness of vision.

"It is a fact and you know it," she continued, 'You know that many of his wives died of broken hearts and how did he leave the rest? Look at my mother and look at all the rest of them! A religion that breaks women's hearts and ruins them is of the devil. That's what Mormonism does. Don't talk to me of my father."--Reported in the Chicago Inter Ocean.

p. 416

8.  A correspondent writing for an eastern paper from Salt Lake City, a few years since, said: "Of all the ill-conditioned, God-forsaken, hopeless looking people I ever saw, the women here beat them all. Yesterday was supply day for the Mormons living outside the city. They bring their wives into town in dead-axle wagons, and fill the vacant room with children who look fully as bad as their mothers, if not worse. Many of them are lean and hump-backed and all look sickly and ill-clad. Two out of three women on the streets yesterday, had nursing infants in their arms. One of the saints had thirteen wives and ninety-four children; another had nine wives and five nursling babies, which he exhibited with all the pride I should take in a lot of fine horses. 1 never realized the infernal nature of the institution nor its effect upon society as I do now."

9.  Key to Theology, by Parley Pratt.

p. 418

10.  Ibid.

p. 420

11.  The following conversation took place between a mistress and an Irish servant p. 421 girl: "Bridget, why are not women ever priests?" "Oh! they couldn't be; they're too wicked." "You don't believe such nonsense, do you--you don't believe women are more wicked than men?" "Yes ma'am," replied Bridget with emphasis; "they're a dale more wicked; they can't iver be prastes, for they brought sin into the world. Eve was the very first sinner; I learned it all in the catechism."

p. 427

12.  In a recent Catholic Allocution, emanating from the dignitaries of that church on the Pacific Coast, it was said: "The church, like Christ, is the same yesterday, to-day and forever; it is the same here as in other parts of the world;--its sacred laws, enacted under the guidance of the divine spirit, are as binding there as in any other place."

p. 428

13.  We do not, indeed, prize as highly as some of our countrymen appear to do the ability to read, write and cipher. Some men are born to be leaders, and the rest are born to be led. The best ordered and administered state is that in which the few are well educated and lead, and the many are trained to obedience.--"Catholic Review."

14.  The Mormon faith belts Idaho, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada; Utah and Wyoming, a portion of the country that is wealthier than any other portion in its natural products. It is not simply in Utah that this power of Mormonism is found, but it is spreading in every territory. Every railroad in that section is partially built by Mormon laborers. They are spreading all over that country. They control, in three or four states there, the balance of power. They control every election that is held in Utah, and every man is dictated to in relation to his vote. They also control the ballot-box in Idaho and Wyoming, and are thus liable in time to come, should the two Mormon territories become states, to p. 429 throw sixteen Senators into our Congress. They openly boast of their intention to take their plural system to your watering places here in the east, Saratoga, Newport and other resorts. I realize the struggle of the past when the manhood of our nation was put to the test, and I know there is another contest approaching. The leaders say they intend to fight this contest until Mormonism prevails--Mormonism and treason to the United States Government.