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41 J. Sup. Ct. Hist. 21 (2016)
The Tenacious Twin Relic: Republicans, Polygamy, and The Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States

handle is hein.journals/jspcth41 and id is 21 raw text is: 














The Tenacious Twin Relic:


Republicans, Polygamy, and


The Late Corporation of the Church


of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints


v. United States


EVAN C. ROTHERA


    Can we have a state in the Union, mused
the Salem Gazette in 1849, whose citizens are
avowedly Mahomedans or idolaters, adhering
to the Mahomedan  or idolatrous form of
doctrine and worship? And if this question
should be answered in the negative, how
stands the case with regard to a community of
Mormons,  who certainly cannot be called
Christians?' Less than a century and a half
after the Gazette's bitter denunciation of
Mormons  as dangerous and anti-Christian,
James E. Woods, Jr. noted that many people
now regard Mormons in a very different light.2
No longer viewed as a threat to the secular
norms of American society, Mormonism has
achieved a social acceptance and status far
beyond what it could have envisioned in the
nineteenth century. It has become, in effect,
one of America's mainline denominations.3


    This transformation in perception is
largely attributable to the disassociation of the
Mormon  Church from the practice of polyg-
amy. As historians have demonstrated, polyg-
amy, or plural marriage, sparked a tremendous
degree of opposition among a wide array of
people in the nineteenth century. The Republi-
can Party's 1856 platform famously denounced
slavery and polygamy as the twin relics of
barbarism. However, despite the importance
of polygamy as a political issue, the history of
the legislative and judicial battles against
polygamy has largely been overlooked.4 By
examining the legislative and judicial fight
against polygamy, which culminated in the
Supreme Court decision in The Late Corpora-
tion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-
Day Saints v. United States, we can grapple
with several compelling questions.5

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