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Mormon Question Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America

ISBN-10: 0807849871
ISBN-13: 9780807849873
Edition: 2002
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Description: From the Mormon Church's public announcement of its sanction of polygamy in 1852 until its formal decision to abandon the practice in 1890, people on both sides of the "Mormon question" debated central questions of constitutional law. Did principles  More...

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Book details

List price: $35.00
Copyright year: 2002
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 1/21/2002
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 352
Size: 6.12" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.100
Language: English

From the Mormon Church's public announcement of its sanction of polygamy in 1852 until its formal decision to abandon the practice in 1890, people on both sides of the "Mormon question" debated central questions of constitutional law. Did principles of religious freedom and local self-government protect Mormons' claim to a distinct, religiously based legal order? Or was polygamy, as its opponents claimed, a new form of slavery--this time for white women in Utah? And did constitutional principles dictate that democracy and true liberty were founded on separation of church and state? As Sarah Barringer Gordon shows, the answers to these questions finally yielded an apparent victory for antipolygamists in the late nineteenth century, but only after decades of argument, litigation, and open conflict. Victory came at a price; as attention and national resources poured into Utah in the late 1870s and 1880s, antipolygamists turned more and more to coercion and punishment in the name of freedom. They also left a legacy in constitutional law and political theory that still governs our treatment of religious life: Americans are free to believe, but they may well not be free to act on their beliefs.

Sarah Barringer Gordon holds degrees in religion, law, and history. She teaches in the Law School and the History Department at the University of Pennsylvania.

Preface
Introduction: Faith and the Contested Constitution
The Laws of God and the Laws of Man
The Power of the Word(s)
The Twin Relic of Barbarism
The Logic of Resistance
Days of Judgment
Law and Patriarchy at the Supreme Court
The Erosion of Sympathy
The Marital Economy
Epilogue: The (Un) Faithful Constitution
Notes
Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Index

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