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More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910 [Hardcover]

by Kathryn M Daynes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 16, 2001 0252026810 978-0252026812
When Joseph Smith announced his revelation that plural marriage was essential to attaining the highest level of eternal salvation, he introduced what became the most notorious aspect of Mormon culture. "More Wives Than One" offers the first in-depth look at the long-term interaction between belief and the practice of polygamy, or plural marriage, among the Latter-day Saints. Focusing on the small community of Manti, Utah, Kathryn M Daynes shows that plural marriage encompassed several forms of marriage endorsed by the church, each with its own rights and responsibilities. She gives a clear picture of the factors shaping the practice, who was likely to enter into a plural marriage, and how the practice dovetailed with Mormon convictions about the crucial role of families in solving social problems. She also explicates the web of beliefs about God-centered marriages and familial responsibility that underlay how plural marriage was experienced, including inheritance practices that protected plural children and wives; a simple, nonlegalistic system of divorce; and zero tolerance for adultery. Daynes provides an intimate view of how Mormon doctrine and Utah laws on marriage and divorce were applied in people's lives. She discusses how Mormon practices, firmly based on a patriarchal model of marriage, diverged from the companionate ideal of marriage that was taking hold in mainstream America. During the frontier period, territorial laws in Utah allowed the Saints sufficient autonomy to develop their distinctive marriage patterns. As settlement progressed, however, the federal government-prodded by late nineteenth-century family reformers-took an increasingly aggressive role in squelching anomalous practices of both marriage and divorce, eroding the ability of plural wives and children to inherit and ultimately disfranchising women and polygamists. Cogent and impeccably documented, "More Wives Than One" will enlighten both scholars and general readers on an intriguing and much-misunderstood chapter of Mormon history.

Editorial Reviews


"This meticulously documented book provides information and insights about how plural marriage actually worked." -- Choice "All subsequent study of this system must now begin with her work." --Western Historical Quarterly ADVANCE PRAISE "This superb book is far and away the best study of Mormon polygamy ever to appear. Kathryn Daynes provides a feast of information and historical context, summarizing and analyzing intelligently and with admirable balance virtually every issue that has ever been raised in connection with Mormon polygamy. This is a gem." -- Dean L. May, author of Three Frontiers: Family, Land, and Society in the American West, 1850-1900 "Kathryn Daynes's More Wives Than One is the most authoritative account of Mormon "plural marriage"--polygamy--ever written. A clear, engaging history of marriage in one nineteenth-century Mormon town, Manti, Utah, More Wives Than One offers an imaginative, thorough, and scrupulously fair account of Mormonism's most controversial spiritual practice in all its social and religious dimensions--a radiant example of scholarship's enlivening intellectual potential." -- Jon Butler, author of Religion in Colonial America "Kathryn Daynes has combined meticulous research into the lives of families in Manti, Utah, with a superb sense of the interaction between law and religion. This book is a multi-faceted jewel, illuminating the clashes of doctrine and legislation in nineteenth-century Utah, and the meaning that such clashes had in the lives of individuals. No prior book on polygamy has given us such a rich and thoughtful account of how the Mormon marriage system affected all of society, as well as those who lived the principle." -- Sarah Barringer Gordon, author of The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America

Book Description

More Wives Than One offers an in-depth look at the long-term interaction between belief and the practice of polygamy, or plural marriage, among the Latter-day Saints. Focusing on the small community of Manti, Utah, Kathryn M. Daynes provides an intimate view of how Mormon doctrine and Utah laws on marriage and divorce were applied in people's lives.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (October 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252026810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252026812
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,150,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pathbreaking Study of 19th Century Mormon Polygamy April 3, 2007
Here is the review of MORE WIVES THAN ONE that I presented orally at the annual conference of the Mormon History Association in Tucson, Arizona, in May 2002:

As a non-Mormon historian and long-time member of the Mormon History Association who has devoted much of his scholarly life to trying to understand the development of 19th-century Mormon polygamy, I am very pleased to provide an assessment of Kathryn M. Daynes's remarkable new book, MORE WIVES THAN ONE: TRANSFORMATION OF THE MORMON MARRIAGE SYSTEM, 1840-1910. This extraordinary study clearly deserves the "best book of the year" award it has just received from this 1,000 member historical association.

For several decades now, first-rate scholarship has proliferated about Mormonism's most controversial 19th century social practice, plural marriage. Virtually every aspect of Mormon polygamy has been analyzed, discussed, and dissected from a variety of perspectives. Historians have explored the intellectual and social origins of the practice; how it worked in Utah during the second half of the 19th century; the crusade against Mormon polygamy that led to Wilford Woodruff's 1890 Manifesto ending public Latter-day Saint support for the practice; the post-Manifesto expressions of polygamy in splinter off-shoots from the Latter-day Saint movement; while comparative studies have analyzed Mormon polygamy within its larger American and world context.

These books have added immeasurably to our understanding of the remarkable complexity of Mormon plural marriage. No other study, however, can match Kathy Daynes's achievement in MORE WIVES THAN ONE.

Every time a new book about Mormon polygamy appears, I can't help wondering whether it will actually add anything new to what we already know.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Plural marriage was by far Joseph Smith's most controversial doctrine. The Mormon founder began the practice in the 1830s and established it as a central part of the Mormon religion in the 1840s. It defined the religion's distinctiveness until the beginning of the twentieth century. Accordingly, and appropriately, it has received considerable historical attention. Kathryn Daynes' "More Wives than One" offers an in-depth look at the long-term interaction between belief and the practice of polygamy among the Mormons in the central Utah town of Manti.
Following the obligatory, and rather unsatisfactory, opening chapter on the origins of Mormon plural marriage in Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo, Illinois, Daynes begins a sustained analysis of polygamy in Manti. She shows that plural marriage followed no monolithic pattern there, but that each approach had its own rights and responsibilities. Using biographical and demographic data she also demonstrates the factors shaping the practice, analyses the ingredients of plural marriage, and explores how it evolved over time. She discusses how Mormon marriage practices solidified a patriarchal model of society, one that diverged sharply from the "companionate" model of marriage and egalitarian social ideas then taking hold in mainstream America. This divergence prompted resistance from elsewhere in the United States, eventually forcing ending of the practice by the church. This is a well down work that provides important insights into the Mormon's "peculiar institution."
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Brigham Young by Leonard J. Arrington
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