Distorting Polygamy for Fun and Profit

Artemus Ward and Mark Twain among the Mormons



The Mormons were excellent targets for reform and exposé, as well as all types of humor. Sufficiently remote from the East and West coasts, isolated in the fortresses of the Rocky Mountains, and virtually independent of outside influences, the Latter-day Saints and their Territory of Deseret quickly became more than a gathering place for the faithful; they became, as well, a gathering place and focal point for a myriad of jokes, myths, and distortions which would long go uncorrected by the schooling hand of familiarity and firsthand knowledge. The very remoteness which protected the Saints from their enemies also allowed those same enemies (and even the apathetic) to fan the coals of ignorance into bright flames of bigotry.

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