|Other short titles||Anti-Plural Marriage Act of 1887|
|Long title||An Act to amend an act entitled "An act to amend section fifty-three hundred and fifty-two of the Revised Statutes of the United States, in reference to bigamy, and for other purposes," approved March twenty-second, eighteen hundred and eighty-two.|
|Nicknames||Anti-Polygamy Act of 1887|
|Enacted by||the 49th United States Congress|
|Effective||March 3, 1887|
|Statutes at Large||24 Stat. 635|
|Titles amended||48 U.S.C.: Territories and Insular Possessions|
|U.S.C. sections created||48 U.S.C. ch. 10 § 1461|
|Mormonism and polygamy|
Portrait of Ira Eldredge with his three wives: Nancy Black Eldredge, Hannah Mariah Savage Eldredge, and Helvig Marie Andersen Eldredge.
The Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1887 was an Act of Congress that focused on restricting some practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It was passed in response to the dispute between the United States Congress and the LDS Church regarding polygamy. The act is found in US Code Title 48 & 1461, full text as 24 Stat. 635, with this annotation to be interpreted as Volume 24, page 635 of United States Statutes at Large. The act is named after its congressional sponsors, Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont and Congressman John Randolph Tucker of Virginia.
In President Grover Cleveland's annual address to Congress in December 1885, he emotionally discussed the issue of polygamy in Utah:
The strength, the perpetuity, and the destiny of the nation rest upon our homes, established by the law of God, guarded by parental care, regulated by parental authority, and sanctified by parental love.
These are not the homes of polygamy. . . .
There is no feature of this practice or the system which sanctions it which is not opposed to all that is of value in our institutions.
There should be no relaxation in the firm but just execution of the law now in operation, and I should be glad to approve such further discreet legislation as will rid the country of this blot upon its fair fame.
The Act was passed by the Senate in January 1886 by a vote of 38-7. It was passed by the House via a voice vote in January 1887. President Cleveland refused to sign the bill but did not veto it, which meant that the Act became law on March 3rd, 1887.
The act disincorporated both the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund on the grounds that they fostered polygamy. The act prohibited the practice of polygamy and punished it with a fine of from $500 to $800 and imprisonment of up to five years. It dissolved the corporation of the church and directed the confiscation by the federal government of all church properties valued over a limit of $50,000. The act was enforced by the U.S. Marshal and a host of deputies.
- Disincorporated the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, with assets to be used for public schools in the Territory.
- Required an anti-polygamy oath for prospective voters, jurors and public officials.
- Annulled territorial laws allowing illegitimate children to inherit.
- Required civil marriage licenses (to aid in the prosecution of polygamy).
- Abrogated the common law spousal privilege for polygamists, thus requiring wives to testify against their husbands.
- Disenfranchised women (who had been enfranchised by the Territorial legislature in 1870).
- Replaced local judges (including the previously powerful Probate Court judges) with federally appointed judges.
- Abolished the office of Territorial superintendent of district schools, granting the supreme court of the Territory of Utah the right to appoint a commissioner of schools. Also called for the prohibition of the use of sectarian books and for the collection of statistics of the number of so-called gentiles and Mormons attending and teaching in the schools.
(See text of the act scanned from the U.S. Statutes at large, linked elsewhere on this page.)
In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the seizure of Church property under the Edmunds–Tucker Act in Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States.
Edmunds–Tucker Act Sponsors
- "Repeal of Law Establishing Limits on Land which Certain Religious Corporations hold in any United States Territory - P.L. 95-584" (PDF). 92 Stat. 2483. U.S. Government Printing Office. November 2, 1978.
- "Repeal of Law Establishing Limits on Land which Certain Religious Corporations hold in any United States Territory - Senate Bill 3371". Congress.Gov. Library of Congress. August 2, 1978.
- Grover Cleveland. First Annual Message to Congress (first term), December 8, 1885. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29526
- M. Paul Holsinger, "Henry M. Teller and the Edmunds-Tucker Act". The Colorado Magazine, vol 48 no 1, Winter 1971, p. 3. http://www.historycolorado.org/sites/default/files/files/Researchers/ColoradoMagazine_v48n1_Winter1971.pdf
- M. Paul Holsinger, "Henry M. Teller and the Edmunds-Tucker Act". The Colorado Magazine, vol 48 no 1, Winter 1971, p. 12-13. http://www.historycolorado.org/sites/default/files/files/Researchers/ColoradoMagazine_v48n1_Winter1971.pdf
- L. Rex Sears, "Punishing the Saints for Their "Peculiar Institution": Congress on the Constitutional Dilemmas," 2001 Utah L. Rev. 581
- Embry, Jessie L. (1994), "Polygamy", in Powell, Allan Kent, Utah History Encyclopedia, Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0874804256, OCLC 30473917
- Women's Suffrage in Utah Jean Bickmore White, Utah History Encyclopedia
- Edmunds–Tucker Act: Section 25
- The practice of polygamy: legitimate free exercise of religion or legitimate public menace? Revisiting Reynolds in light of modern constitutional jurisprudence Richard A. Vazquez, Journal of Legislation & Public Policy (New York University School of Law), Volume 5, Number 1, Fall 2001
- Past and Present Proposed Amendments to the United States Constitution Regarding Marriage Edward Stein, Washington University Law Quarterly, Volume 82, Number 3, 2004
- "Gospel Topics: The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage", LDS.org, LDS Church, retrieved 2014-10-22
- Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Grover Cleveland: "First Annual Message (first term)," December 8, 1885". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara.
- Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Benjamin Harrison: "Proclamation 346 - Granting Amnesty and Pardon for the Offense of Engaging in Polygamous or Plural Marriage to Members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints," January 4, 1893". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara.
- Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Grover Cleveland: "Proclamation 369 - Granting Amnesty and Pardon for the Offenses of Polygamy, Bigamy, Adultery, or Unlawful Cohabitation to Members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints," September 25, 1894". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara.