The Mormon Disfranchisements of 1882 to 1892



A flurry of anti-Mormon lawmaking from 1882 to 1892 was designed to disfranchise most Mormons on the grounds of religious practice or affiliation. The Mormon people challenged these laws by contending that the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom protected their franchise. The outcome of this conflict as recorded in the decisions of state, territorial, and federal courts cast a dark shadow across the history of religious liberty in the United States, a shadow which, because of the law’s use of precedent, may yet prove long enough to reach and influence the outcome of future conflicts between religious belief and public policy. Consequently, this is an instructive as well as an interesting episode in American history.

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