This study investigates The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), known as Mormons, and their struggle for acceptance in nineteenth-century America. Specifically, this paper defends the MormonsÍ justification of polygamy underscored by the principles, revelation and perfect obedience. While United States law and culture confronted this practice with disapproval, Mormons used the legal system to argue that polygamy was necessary for compliance of their religious law. Due to MormonsÍ embrace of polygamy, their integration into society slowed. The LDS image grew tainted as they fought to maintain plural marriage. As Mormons became further estranged, the United States revoked their citizen rights. In turn, in 1890, Mormons began a deconstruction of polygamy that transformed the Church. Their renouncement of this practice eased their progress on American soil; however, Mormons continue to battle with contemporary misconceptions about their polygamous history. As Mormon fundamentalist groups continue to practice polygamy, mainstream LDS members aim to separate themselves from their history. Because of this contentious history and ongoing debate, it is important to understand the roots and justification of this controversial interpretation of religious beauty. Ultimately, this paperÍs exploration arrives at two present-day questions: How can Mormons find closure with their polygamous past? Furthermore, as the United States deals with emerging polygamous groups, how can civil law handle communities that embrace plural marriage under religion today? Through this study of Mormon belief and struggle within the United States, I propose several ways to resolve the situation.


Graber, Jennifer


Religious Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2008 Aliya Madhur Deepa Maseelall