Polygamy and Politics
Protesting federal antipolygamy laws, Latter-day Saint women demanded their right to religious freedom and represented themselves to the nation as decisive, strong, and free, committed to their religious beliefs.
As Utah Territory developed, the practice of plural marriage attracted attention from the national government. Politicians labeled slavery and polygamy as the “twin relics of barbarism,”6 but with the nation embroiled in the Civil War, no antipolygamy legislation was enforced.
After the war, national legislators targeted plural marriage with a variety of bills. Some even favored granting suffrage to Utah women, supposing they would vote to end polygamy.
In response, Latter-day Saint women publicly spoke in support of plural marriage. They held a series of “indignation” meetings to demand their right to religious freedom.