Church History

“Manifesto,” Church History Topics



For much of the 19th century, a significant number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints practiced plural marriage—the marriage of one man to more than one woman. The beginning and end of the practice were directed by revelation through God’s prophets. The initial command to practice plural marriage came through Joseph Smith, the founding Prophet and President of the Church.1 In 1890 President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto, which led to the end of plural marriage in the Church.

The end of plural marriage required great faith and sometimes complicated, painful—and intensely personal—decisions on the part of individual members and leaders of the Church. Like the beginning of plural marriage in the Church, the end of the practice was a process rather than a single event.

Saints recounts several important stories relating to the end of the practice of plural marriage by Latter-day Saints, including the Manifesto. For further information, see “The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage.”2

Related Topics: Antipolygamy Legislation, Joseph Smith and Plural Marriage, Plural Marriage in Utah


  1. See Doctrine and Covenants 132.

  2. For additional context, see Thomas G. Alexander, “The Odyssey of a Latter-day Prophet: Wilford Woodruff and the Manifesto of 1890,” Journal of Mormon History, vol. 17 (1991), 169–206; Sarah Barringer Gordon, The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002).