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A Foreign KingdomMormons and Polygamy in American Political Culture, 1852-1890$
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Christine Talbot

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038082

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038082.001.0001

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date: 13 December 2017

“The Utter Destruction of the Home Circle”

“The Utter Destruction of the Home Circle”

Polygamy and the Perversion of the Private Sphere

Chapter:
(p.83) Chapter 4 “The Utter Destruction of the Home Circle”
Source:
A Foreign Kingdom
Author(s):

Christine Talbot

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252038082.003.0005

This chapter discusses anti-Mormon literature from its beginnings in domestic fiction. Anti-Mormons objected to polygamy not only because they believed it promoted licentiousness and degraded its participants but, perhaps of deeper social consequence, because it also undercut the distinctions between public and private that middle-class white Americans so highly prized. Plural marriage upset the private intimacy of romantic love and introduced outside influence into the home circle. Indeed, Anti-Mormons claimed that under polygamy, public and private merged together, such that neither the home nor the polity could exist in a viable form. Moreover, if monogamous private life created and maintained the good citizen, then the perversions of Mormon polygamy did the opposite; it turned privacy into religious despotism, private property into socialism, and citizens into blind followers incapable of independent thought.

Keywords:   anti-Mormon literature, domestic fiction, polygamy, plural marriage, home circle, privacy

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