Doing the Works of Abraham
Mormon Polygamy—Its Origin, Practice, and Demise
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
452 Pages | 6 x 9 | 32 b&w illus.
Celestial Marriage—the “doctrine of the plurality of wives”—polygamy. No issue in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (popularly known as the Mormon Church) has attracted more attention. From its contentious and secretive beginnings in the 1830s to its public proclamation in 1852, and through almost four decades of bitter conflict with the federal government to Church renunciation of the practice in 1890, this belief helped define a new religious identity and unify the Mormon people, just as it scandalized their neighbors and handed their enemies the most effective weapon they wielded in their battle against Mormon theocracy.
Doing the Works of Abraham provides the basic documents supporting and challenging Mormon polygamy, supported by the concise commentary and documentation of editor B. Carmon Hardy. Plural marriage is everywhere at hand in Mormon history. However, despite its omnipresence, including a broad and continuing stream of publications devoted to it, few attempts have been made to assemble a documentary history of the topic. Hardy has drawn on years of research and writing on the controversial and complex subject to make this narrative collection of documents illuminating and myth-shattering. The second “relic of barbarism,” as the Republican Party platform of 1856 characterized polygamy, was believed by the Saints to be God’s law, trumping the laws of a mere republic. The long struggle for what was, and for some fundamentalists remains, religious freedom still resonates in American religious law. Throughout the West, thousands of families continue the practice, even In the face of LDS Church opposition.