Laurel Thatcher Ulrich says bad marriages had women running to and away from Mormon polygamy

Historians in the News
tags: Mormon History Association, polygamy, Mormon



Far from the rosy glow of true love depicted in today's romantic comedies and religious sermons, marriage in earlier times was more often akin to slavery for women — with husbands as the master.

By the 19th century, however, some women wanted more love and less abuse, and so, with few legal options, wives began to flee from these matches, including from Mormon polygamous unions and American monogamous coupling.

''Some people — and perhaps quite a few women — chose plural marriage over what they saw on the other side," historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich told a crowd of Mormon scholars recently. "Some women ran away from polygamy — one of my own great-grandmothers did — but it is interesting to contemplate that some women also ran away in order to join it."

A Harvard professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Ulrich knows that conclusion runs counter to the belief that LDS "plural marriage," as it was known, was a "patriarchal backwater against the backdrop of nuclear marriage that was emerging in [that] century."

But she does not "find that interpretation persuasive." ...




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