I had a great conversation with Anne Wilde! Anne is an expert on modern-day polygamy, having been a polygamist herself. She’s the second wife of Ogden Kraut (deceased) and founder of a group called Principal Voices, a polygamy advocacy group. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing a fundamentalist perspective on polygamy. She had some really interesting things to say. In part 1 of our conversation, I had heard of an uncanonized revelation from John Taylor, which reaffirmed polygamy was an eternal principle.
Anne: John Taylor claimed, and I believe, he received a revelation from the Lord regarding polygamy because at that time it was very controversial. The law was very much involved. They were coming out here and arresting polygamists.
He was approached about signing a manifesto of some sort in 1886 in order to get the government off our back so to speak. In the process he received this revelation. It’s only one page, relatively short. But it said in there that the Lord would not change an eternal principle or an everlasting covenant. He said that after he received that, he felt like he could not sign any kind of a compromise. He said that he would rather have his arm cut off or his tongue torn out rather than sign any kind of a compromise regarding doing away with plural marriage.
What many Mormons don’t know is that polygamy did not end in 1890. In part 2, I was surprised to learn that Wilford Woodruff himself may have married another wife in 1897, a year after statehood in Utah.
GT: Do you have any comments on whether you think that 1890 Manifesto was meant for public consumption, but privately we were still going to practice it, or how does that work?
Anne: I don’t know what was in the back of Wilford Woodruff’s mind. I don’t know, other than the fact that he took—as far as we know, there’s pretty good evidence that he took a plural wife seven years after the Manifesto, himself. We also have very good evidence that many of the apostles, the Quorum of the Twelve, took additional wives after 1890. That’s one reason why the 1904 Manifesto had to come out is to put teeth in it because so many people were very quietly taking additional wives, especially in Canada and Mexico.
Anne doesn’t fault Woodruff for the Manifesto. The government was putting tremendous pressure on the church over polygamy, and many members of the church were against polygamy.
- Was the Manifesto a sham simply to get the government of the back of the church and get statehood for Utah?
- Were you aware of Taylor’s purported revelation, or the fact that Taylor was asked to sign a manifesto prior to Woodruff?
- Were you aware of Woodruff’s 1897 marriage?
- Is polygamy an eternal principle?
- What do you think about polygamy in general?