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History of the Church

The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887
February 20, 2019
History of the Church
The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887
Author BYU Studies Staff,

This daily feature is an introduction to the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, featuring the book “Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics of Woman Suffrage, 1870-1896” by Lola Van Wagenen. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history. To access the book, click the link below. 

On Feb 19, 1887 the United States congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act, which disincorporated the Church, dissolved the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, abolished female suffrage in Utah Territory, and threatened to confiscate most of the Church’s property.

“Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics of Woman Suffrage, 1870-1896” by Lola Van Wagenen discussed the effects of the Act on LDS women in Utah. Leading up to the passage of the Act, Wagenen says that:

“By 1884 the situation for Mormon women was rapidly deteriorating...The first case under the law... illustrated what was ahead for Mormon polygamous women: hiding to avoid testifying, imprisonment for a few who refused to testify, searches of their homes at any hour, trials before non-Mormon juries, and long prison sentences combined with high fines; all of which were as difficult for the women and children at home as they were for the men...Many Mormon women moved constantly and lived months at a time in a state of fear and deprivation, often with their young children”.

When the Edmunds-Tucker Act became law in 1887, “all of Utah’s women were disenfranchised”, or no longer had the right to vote, regardless of religious affiliation.

This Act was repealed in 1978.